Growing trend? M'sians taking up to $7.5k loans to join terror group Isis
Some Malaysians have gone to the extent of taking personal loans from banks and moneylenders in order to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) in the Middle East.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) quoted Malaysian counter-terrorism officials as saying the loans were taken to fund passage and living expenses in Syria and Iraq.
The official said:
"At least two women have taken personal loans to pay for their passage to Syria to join Isis and also to fund their living expenses there.
"One woman took a RM20,000 (S$7,500) personal loan from RHB Bank while the other borrowed RM6,000 from a licensed moneylender."
SCMP reported that the emerging trend comes after an Isis cell leader in Malaysia urged followers to apply for the loans to help them join the fight in the Middle East.
Police have arrested numerous Isis supporters and sympathisers.
But it seems Malaysians have not been discouraged from attempting to join up with Isis.
To date, at least 59 Malaysians are officially known to have joined Isis.
More than 65 have been arrested by police either on their way to Syria and Iraq or on their way back since the start of last year.
A civil servant was among three suspects that Malaysian police arrested for suspected links with the Islamic State (ISIS) group. They have been funding Malaysians to head to Syria since the middle of 2014. Photo: The Star
The official told SCMP:
"There are no indications that these two women will return to Malaysia.
"The chances of that is very slim, hence the loan is not likely to be repaid."
Apart from seeking martyrdom, some Malaysians went to Syria because they wanted to live in an Islamic caliphate, which was declared in an area straddling Syria and Iraq last June.
Malaysia, according to Isis supporters, is an infidel state as it maintains a secular constitution.
At least six Malaysians have died in Syria and Iraq fighting for Isis, said the official, who also confirmed that a former Malaysian Armed Forces commando was among 135 Isis-linked militants detained by Saudi Arabian authorities in Riyadh in December.
Sources: Malaysian Insider, South China Morning Post