KUALA LUMPUR: “WHAT is the point of you being there if my tears fall every day yearning for your return?”
Rozini Talib, the ailing mother of a young Malaysian fighting against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, wants nothing more than for her son, who left everything behind to become a militant — including her — to return home.
Rozini, who has been in and out of hospital for a heart condition, recalled the day when her son, who has now assumed the name Salman Al Farisi, told her in late February that he was going to Syria for a “humanitarian mission”. He has not been back since.
“I told him not to go because I don’t know how long I will be around. I never thought that he was going to pick up arms and go to war.
“I kept reminding him that helping his family is also a form of jihad, but he was dead set on leaving us. All he wants is martyrdom.
“A part of my soul is gone but I hope it is not forever. I pray for him daily,” she said, adding that her eldest child left the country with Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki, 26, believed to be Malaysia’s first suicide bomber linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
With a forlorn look on her weary face, Rozini did not want to reveal her son’s real name. She referred to him as “Along” (a term used in Malay families to refer to the eldest child), and, occasionally, Syafiq.
Rozini, 49, who not too long ago was in a coma, told the New Straits Times that to keep her spirits up, she would tell herself that her son was still working in Sepang, where he was involved in the klia2 project.
The NST traced Rozini after several Malaysian jihadists in Syria posted her address on Facebook in an appeal to supporters and friends here in Malaysia to help their “comrade” (Salman) by checking on his mother and helping her financially.
“It is my first born that I want. He has always been a good son. He took care of me in hospital.
“I pray to God that we will be united again but there is one thing he said that keeps ringing in my ears: ‘If my life is short, we will meet in the afterlife’.
“As a mother, while I don’t approve (redha) of what he is doing there, I ask that the Almighty keep him safe,” Rozini said, adding that recently, a stranger who claimed to have served in Palestine, came to check on her and gave her RM100. He did not stay long, telling her that he was under police surveillance.
Rozini, a housewife, said Salman’s father, a 49-year-old security guard who was equally heartbroken by their son’s decision to leave them behind, earns RM1,300 a month.
“He is beyond angry with him for leaving like he did.”
She recalled how her 22-year-old son, who studied at the Cybernetics Institute of Technology (CIT), started chipping in for household expenses and contributing pocket money to his siblings as soon as he started working.
“They are all still in school. He told his brother and sisters in February that money from him would stop coming in.
“He sold his superbike and gave his brother his EX5. And then, he was gone.
“Salman didn’t allow us to send him off that day. He will be 23 in October. I hope to hold my son in my arms again on that day,” she said while holding back tears.
Rozini said no mother should share her anguish, urging the authorities to prevent more young Malaysians from going to Syria.
“I am appealing to the police to forgive my son and to give him a chance if he comes back. He is not a threat to this country and has never even joined street demonstrations.
“He also said to me: ‘What’s the point of returning when he could be put behind bars for years?’
“He does not fully understand jihad. He was eager and strongly influenced by these people,” she said in reference to warnings issued by the authorities that Malaysians involved in jihadist groups in Syria would be arrested the minute they set foot in the country.
She also revealed that Salman had been in contact with the family through the online communication platform “WeChat”, on Fathers Day.
“Syafiq told us that he was doing fine.
“He asked for my chicken porridge recipe and was disappointed to know that he was going to have to do without a lot of the ingredients.
“The fasting month is approaching. I am going to miss him more. I won’t be cooking his favourites.
“His interest in jihad was sudden and he never spoke about it until just before he left,” Rozini said, adding that she does not know which jihadist group her son was affliated with or who his contacts there were.
Rozini said her worries grew after reports about Ahmad Tarmimi, the last person to be seen with her son, drove a military sports utility vehicle filled with explosives into an Iraqi special forces headquarters on May 26, blowing up himself and 25 elite Iraqi soldiers in the process.