PETALING JAYA - A number of Indonesians are posing as Malaysians while some Malaysians are transiting Indonesia in attempts to outwit the authorities and fight alongside Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and Iraq.
A study by the Institute For Policy Analysis and Conflict (Ipac) said that based on Facebook pages it monitored, it was clear that IS supporters in Indonesia and Malaysia were "friending" one another.
"It is also clear that some Indonesians were identifying themselves as Malaysians, perhaps as a security measure, just when Indonesians and Malaysians were going to Afghanistan in the early 1990s and many identified themselves as Filipinos.
"To further throw possible trackers off the scent, Indonesians headed for the Middle East are reportedly leaving from Malaysia while Malaysians are leaving from Indonesia.
"There is so much travel between the two countries that it would not raise any red flags with immigration authorities on either side," according to the study, which was released on Sept 24 last year.
In July last year, Ipac said the Indonesian-Malaysian connection in Syria took on a new facet, with the formation of a katibah nusantara, or special unit for Malay-speaking mujahidin in IS.
"Before the declaration of the caliphate, there were relatively few Malaysians with IS; more had joined the Ajnad Al-Sham Islamic Union based in and around Damascus.
"One of the few to join IS was Ahmad Tarmimi, who became the first Malaysian to die as a suicide bomber in Iraq in late May 2014."
By early August, at least 22 Indonesians and Malaysians had come together under the IS banner in the town of Al-Shadadi, Hasaka province.
Ipac said this group discussed the desirability of forming a katibah, a military unit roughly equivalent to a company, comprising 100 men.
"A Malay-speaking unit made sense militarily because communication was a perennial problem. Most Indonesians were not fluent in either English or Arabic.
"It also made sense given the IS agenda to expand the reach of the caliphate to other areas, including South-East Asia," the study said.