October 3, 2016: A female medical student who is the latest Malaysian to join Islamic State in Syria informed her mother in a letter that she went to the war-torn region to “wage jihad,” the chief of Malaysia’s counter-terrorist police branch told BenarNews.
The 25-year-old woman is among only three Malaysians who have traveled abroad this year to join IS’s ranks in the Middle East, although one of them was deported from Turkey last week, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said.
“I can confirm as of [September], only three have left for Syria. One has been detained and sent back here,” Ayob told Benar.
The woman, a student at a medical laboratory college in Kuala Lumpur, left for Syria on Aug. 29, and sent her mother a letter saying she hoped that her jihadist efforts would help her parents reach heaven, according to the head of the police’s counter-terrorist special branch.
“If the situation allows, I will contact you, be patient mother, there will be time where no more laws and regulations by the unbelievers. Islam will win and the Sharia law will be spread all over the world. Do not be sad mother, be patient, be patient for Allah,” she wrote, according to an excerpt from the letter that was printed in a police report seen by BenarNews.
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The student enclosed the title to her car as well as other personal documents, and told her mother not to tell anyone about her “migration” if she loved her, Ayob said.
The letter stated that she wanted to die a martyr and live under the “true Islamic ruler” in Syria. It surprised her mother because the daughter had never shown an inclination toward militancy, according to Ayob.
He said the woman’s family learned that she had left her studies, after a lecturer called to say she had failed to attend her internship at a general hospital in the state of Negeri Sembilan, beginning on Aug. 25.
“Even then, they were not aware that she had left the country until the mother received a letter from her daughter in early September,” Ayob said. “She is the first woman this year who left the country to join IS.”
Investigators determined the woman was affected by the deaths of her father in 2006 and her boyfriend in 2013. She became a loner who often listened to religious songs and used her savings to buy a one-way ticket to Syria, Ayob said.
‘Others brought their wives and little children along’
According to Ayob, 58 Malaysians are with IS in Syria or Iraq.
Since 2013, as many as 90 Malaysians have joined the extremist group, of which 24 are believed to have been killed in battle and eight were arrested and charged with terror-related offenses after returning home from the Middle East, Ayob said.
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Those who are still with IS in that region consist of 32 men, 10 women and 16 are children.
“Some went there alone while others brought their wives and little children along,” Ayob said.
Included among those who departed for Syria in 2016 is a 20-year-old engineering student from a university in the southern state of Johor. Turkish authorities sent him home on Sept. 22, after they caught him while he tried to cross into Syria to join IS, Ayob said. The student had left Malaysia on Sept. 7.
“We are detaining him under SOSMA [the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act of 2012],” Ayob said.
Another Malaysian, a 21-year-old business management and economics student from Pahang state, left his university in Perak for Syria on June 6, according to the counter-terror official.
Since 2013, the Malaysian government has pursued suspected IS members and sympathizers to stem the group’s influence in Malaysia and prevent it from radicalizing and recruiting youths.
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During that time, authorities have arrested at least 230 suspected IS members and have warned that Malaysians returning from combat stints in Syria or Iraq could launch terrorist attacks at home. At least 75 alleged IS members have been charged in court.
In late June, IS claimed its first terrorist attack in Malaysia when two motorcyclists threw a hand grenade that exploded outside a nightclub in Puchong, Selangor, injuring eight people.(BenarNews)