Some Malaysians have been taking personal loans from banks and moneylenders in order to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Middle East.
Malaysian counter-terrorism officials were quoted by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) as saying the loans were taken to fund passage and living expenses in Syria and Iraq.
"At least two women have taken personal loans to pay for their passage to Syria to join ISIS and also to fund their living expenses there," an official told SCMP.
"One woman took a RM20,000 (S$7,490) personal loan from RHB Bank while the other borrowed RM6,000 from a licensed moneylender."
Aside from seeking martyrdom, some Malaysians head to Syria as they wanted to live in an Islamic caliphate, which was declared in an area straddling Syria and Iraq in June last year, reported the Malaysian Insider.
SCMP reported that this emerging trend comes after an ISIS cell leader in Malaysia urged followers to apply for loans to help them fight in the Middle East.
Sources from the Bukit Aman police headquarters told the New Straits Times last month that investigation papers showed that at least five Malaysian fighters, who were stopped from going over, had not only disposed of most of their properties, but had also applied for loans, some up to more than RM100,000.
The Special Branch's Counter- Terrorism Division said it would alert banks to reject those they believe were ISIS members sourcing for funds.
Militants who had succeeded in making it to Syria with the money would use part of it to arm themselves, including with an AK47 assault rifle, which costs about RM2,000 each, reported NST.
This article was first published on January 12, 2015.
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