World

Some Malaysians preparing 
to fight Myanmar army

KUALA LUMPUR A group of Malaysians are in Myanmar to take up arms against the country's army, whose offensive against insurgents has led more than 400,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee the crackdown in Rakhine state.

Malaysian police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun, who disclosed this yesterday, added that intelligence showed there were other Malaysians preparing to fight the Myanmar army.

"We are determining how many of them are there (Myanmar) and how many are planning to leave Malaysia (for Myanmar)," Mr Mohamad Fuzi, the Inspector-General of Police, told The Straits Times yesterday.

He said that Malaysians keen to fight in Myanmar were recruited by fighters in Malaysia and Rakhine.

As for those who have already gone to Myanmar, they are believed to have entered the country from Bangladesh and Thailand. It is not known whether those Malaysians have launched any attack.

On Sunday, Malaysian police confirmed that some Malaysians, backed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), are engaging in "jihad" against the Myanmar government.

In its report, Bernama news agency quoted anti-terror chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay as saying that the ISIS is using the Rohingya issue as a platform to recruit new members to carry out attacks.

Contacted by The Straits Times, Mr Ayob clarified that those who are in Myanmar do not belong to ISIS.

"They are not ISIS. We do not have intelligence that shows ISIS and Arsa have joined forces," he said, referring to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.

"But the issue in Rakhine is being exploited by ISIS (to recruit more fighters) in (South-east Asia)."

In the Bernama report, Mr Ayob said images of the oppressed Rohingya community are being shared on social media to entice new members to join ISIS.

"Myanmar is closer to Malaysia than Syria and the southern Philippines where the conflict is ongoing, and now Rakhine has become their latest destination for 'jihad'," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Ayob said that ISIS' recruitment of new members has not been affected by the death of its top recruiter in South-east Asia, Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi.

The 26-year-old, who was Malaysia's most wanted militant, was killed in a drone attack in Syria in April.

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