World

Former university lecturer now money man for ISIS

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian militant Mahmud Ahmad has been touted as a weapons expert and the "go-to guy" in the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) hierarchy. He can now add money man to his list of roles in the terror group.

Since 2014, the former Universiti Malaya lecturer has received more than RM500,000 (S$158,000) in donations from ISIS militants and sympathisers.

Intelligence sources said the funds were channelled to Dr Mahmud through couriers and dead drops since he fled to the southern Philippines three years ago.

"The couriers, mostly from Malaysia and Indonesia, would fly to Tawau before using illegal routes to Mindanao," a source told The Star.

"There, they would leave a bag of cash in a designated area to be picked up by another militant, who would deliver the cash to Dr Mahmud."

The instructions to transfer money would be sent through the messaging application Telegram, which Indonesia has now banned. This modus operandi is designed to prevent the capture of Dr Mahmud by security forces, the source added.

When contacted, Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division head Deputy Commissioner Ayob Khan confirmed that Dr Mahmud was using couriers to receive funds and had taken bags of cash to the southern Philippines from 2010.

"We also discovered that Dr Mahmud used international wire transfer services to get his funds," DCP Ayob told The Star yesterday.

DCP Ayob said his division had detained those responsible for channelling funds to ISIS militants in Syria and the Philippines.

"We have arrested 19 suspects for terrorism funding offences.

"Sixteen have been charged in court and three others held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act." - THE STAR

terrorismFinancePhilippines