Malaysia: Artist Sentenced to 12 Years for Supporting IS

Haireez Azeem Azizi and S. Adie Zul
Kuala Lumpur and Penang
160614-MY-is-supporter-620.jpg A soldier sets fire to an Islamic State (IS) flag after Syrian troops regained control of al-Qaryatain, a town Homs province, Syria, April 4, 2016. In Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, a Malaysian man was sentenced to 12 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to supporting IS.

A Kuala Lumpur court Tuesday sentenced a Malaysian artist, who set out to paint the chaos of the war in Syria, to 12 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to supporting the Islamic State (IS) extremist group there.

A court in Penang state, meanwhile, charged a local tour guide with funding a Malaysian who allegedly is fighting alongside Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militants in the southern Philippines, according to reports.

Artist Mohammad Fauzee Ahmad, a father of six, went to Syria to capture on canvas the struggle of Syrians under the regime of Bashar al-Assad. While there, he worked as a sentry and received military training at an unnamed IS camp, court records said.

Kuala Lumpur High Court Judicial Commissioner Nordin Hassan sentenced Mohammad Fauzee, 48, after accepting his guilty plea. Nordin ordered the sentence to run from the date of the defendant’s arrest, Oct. 27, 2014.

“I don’t want any youngsters to be influenced by your actions and follow suit,” Nordin told the defendant.

“Hence, I have to impose a deterrent sentence on you to send out a strong message to the public, especially to those who are planning to do the same. Islamic State is a worldwide threat and it is the court’s responsibility to ensure such terror activities do not happen in Malaysia.”

‘Lost soul’

Fauzee was charged with taking part in terrorist-related activities involving firearms and explosives in Syria between June 29 and Sept. 18, 2014, and could have faced up to 30 years in jail, or a fine and forfeiture of his assets.

Defense attorney Eric Paulsen told the judicial commissioner that his client had kept a space at a mosque in Putrajaya, where he painted for almost a decade before traveling to Syria.

“He was misguided to taking part in the fight there. Fauzee is a lost soul and can be rehabilitated. The court should understand that the offense was technically committed overseas and a sentence of five to nine years would be sufficient,” Paulsen told the court.

Since the arrest, Fauzee’s wife has become the sole breadwinner of the family, earning 1,000 ringgits (U.S. $243) per month as a factory worker for their three school-age children, Paulsen said.

The prosecutor focused on Fauzee’s actions in Syria.

“He was clearly lending support to terror activities. There are pictures of him holding an AK-47 and posing alongside bombs, tanks and sitting on top of a tank with an injured Mujahid fighter,” Deputy Public Prosecutor Mustaffa P. Kunyalam told the court.

“Thus, the court should also take into consideration the interest of the public and impose a deterrent sentence.”

According to Malaysia’s home ministry, more than 130 Malaysians have tried to join IS in Iraq or Syria. At least 19 Malaysians have been killed while fighting for IS in the Middle East, according to Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, the head of the Royal Malaysia Police’s (RMP) counterterrorist branch.

Since 2013, Malaysian police have arrested at least 193 suspects with alleged links to IS, among whom 58 have been charged in court, according to police statistics.

Managing terrorism fund

In Penang, tour guide Lisoffuan Abdullah, 37, was charged Tuesday over having managed a bank account to support alleged ASG member Muhammad Joraimee Awang Raimee for six months between Oct. 21, 2015 and April 29, 2016.

According to news reports, Muhammad Joraimee is part of a group planning to form an official faction of the IS in Southeast Asia by bringing together militant groups in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. A former municipal council employee in Penang, Muhammad Joraimee has been on the RMP’s wanted list since April 2014.

Lisoffuan could face up to 20 years in prison, if convicted. Balik Pulau Magistrate Court Magistrate Nur Azzuin Abd Moati denied bail and set July 14 for Lisoffuan’s first court hearing.

Lisoffuan Abdullah is led out of court after being charged with managing terrorism fund on behalf of a Malaysian militant fighting alongside Abu Sayyaf Group in Southern Philippines, June 14, 2016 [S. Adie Zul/BenarNews].


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.