Why Malaysians join IS: Cult, broken families, money problems, says home minister

The Malay Mail/March 31, 2015

By Ida Lim

Kuala Lampur -- The top three factors that lead Malaysians to join the terrorist group Islamic State (IS) include broken families and financial difficulties, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today.

Zahid said individuals who become militants also tend to be obsessed with the organisations that they join or with the leaders of such groups.

“I am of the view that from the findings of Interpol and our police, that it’s not because of ideology, but because of belief, cult,” the Bagan Datok MP told Parliament today.

Zahid also noted that the majority of the Malaysians identified as having died after joining militant groups in Syria and Iraq were below the age of 30.

He said six Malaysians were killed in Syria, while one was killed in Iraq and three others died in unidentified places, adding that Malaysian authorities were still trying to determine the actual identity of three who had used false names.

He also pointed out the danger of social media as a tool to recruit Malaysians in militant activities, citing as example a 14-year-old girl who was found to have married an alleged IS fighter through Skype.

According to Zahid, police have to date nabbed 75 individuals suspected of being involved in IS — including 13 foreigners that have since been ejected from Malaysia.

Of the 75 arrested, the minister said 24 have been charged in court, while 25 were released and seven were still under probe.

Zahid said Malaysia has extradition deals with the countries where the foreigners originated, but declined to name the countries to avoid hampering efforts in gathering intelligence.

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