Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) - There are the leading figures of the jihad in Malaysia and active members in the recruitment of fighters for the war in the Middle East, among those arrested earlier this week. This is according to authorities in Kuala Lumpur, pointing out that the list of those arrested include a close associate of a government minister, a former veteran of the Syrian conflict and an expert on Facebook and social networks where he targeted students. Added to these are a boy of only 14, a student in high school and an entire family of five.
The group of 14 people arrested earlier this week include personalities active
in the recruitment campaign for the militias of the
Islamic State (IS). Police
sources explain that they were organizing the movement in Syria and used the internet to attract new (and increasingly younger) supporters. In particular,
three of them played a very personal
and individual role
to promote, organize and finance trips to Syria.
Other members of the group include a close associate of the Malaysian Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, whose task was to finance the trips in Syria. He was linked to three Filipino fighters in the Islamic extremist group Abu Sayyaf, who are on the countries most wanted list. He is joined in prison by a 34 year old former jihad fighter in Syria and a 37 year-old Internet expert, in charge of propaganda.
As AsiaNews recently reported, fundamentalist movements and local Muslim leaders been inspired by the exploits of the Sunni fighters and intend to support the struggle for the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate, which has now been extended also to Asia. Extremist cells and members active in recruitment are present as much in Indonesia, as in neighboring Malaysia; its members are already operating in the area in preparation for attacks and targeted attacks against pubs, discos and bars "dreaming of the Islamic caliphate."
Since last April 37 suspects have been arrested, at least 30 citizens have left the country for Syria
and about 15 have lost their lives
in the ranks of the terrorist group.
Malaysia is a nation of over 28 million inhabitants, mostly Sunni Muslims (60%). In general a moderate view of Islam prevails and there have been no serious incidents of violence in recent years. However, there have been minor attacks on and violations of the religious freedom of the minorities, as seen recently following the controversy over the use of the word "Allah" by the Catholic weekly Malaysia Herald. Therefore concerns are growing about a possible escalation of tension in an area considered to be "fertile ground" for militant jihadist movement.