A number of Malaysians backed by the Islamic State (IS) militant group is engaging the Myanmar government in a “holy war” purportedly to defend the oppressed Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State. (Pix by RASUL AZLI SAMAD)

MELAKA: A number of Malaysians backed by the Islamic State (IS) militant group is engaging the Myanmar government in a “holy war” purportedly to defend the oppressed Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State.

Federal police Special Branch’s Counter-Terrorism Division assistant director Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said in reality, the IS is employing the Rohingya issue as a platform to recruit new members to carry out its terrorist acts.

Ayob said IS also shared images of oppressed Rohingya people online to evoke sympathy and lure people to be part of the terror group.

“At the same time, we have intelligence information on the possibility of Indonesians involved in militant activities in their country,” Ayob told reporters after the launch of the ‘IS Threat to Youths Awareness Seminar’ here yesterday.

The event was officiated by Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron.

Ayob said Myanmar’s proximity to Malaysia was an opportunity for IS to spread their influence in Rakhine.

“Myanmar is closer to Malaysia than Syria and the southern Philippines. And now Rakhine has become their latest destination to carry out their ‘jihad’.”

Ayob revealed on Sept 10, a cendol seller from here was arrested on suspicion of promoting IS militancy through the printing and distribution of IS flags. The 38-year old man was also planning to take part in IS activities in the Philippines and Rakhine.

In a related development, Ayob said the recruitment of new members was still ongoing despite the head of Southeast Asia IS, Muhamad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi, from Melaka, was killed in a drone attack in Raqaa, Syria in April.

He said as of now there were four Malaysians in Syria believed to be actively recruiting Malaysians - Bernama