KUALA LUMPUR- The terror link that is being forged between Malaysian militants and the other fighters from Middle Eastern groups, including off-shoots of al-Qaeda, has become the primary concern of intelligence agencies in the region.
While veteran fighters have joined in the Syrian civil war, which has now turned into a battle between the Sunnis and Syiahs, new radical groups have also emerged.
It is this trend that is worrying Bukit Aman and their regional counterparts, especially those from Indonesia
The battle in Syria to set up the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has become pivotal in bringing together like-minded militants who are sending out messages via social media that they are fighting a holy cause in the name of Islam.
Almost all the Malaysian militants, including former PAS Dewan Ulama central committee member and Kedah Youth information chief Lotfi Ariffin, have declared themselves as jihad fighters.
They have also projected themselves as defenders of the Sunni branch of Islam, to which the majority of Muslims in Malaysia as well as in Indonesia belong.
Militants supporting ISIS have seized vast territories in western and northern Iraq and captured groups of people. Reports have emerged about how the fighters would release the Sunnis but single out the Syiahs for execution.
ISIS is also referred as ISIL, or the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant. The Levant, or al-Sham, is sometimes called Greater Syria and encompasses Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Israel.
Iraqi Syiah fighters are in the Syrian civil war supposedly to keep Syrian President Bashar Assad in power. Many of them were trained by Hezbollah, the Syiahs' Islamic militant group, and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
But while the civil war rages on, intelligence agencies and the Malaysian police are said to be more concerned with the links that are being forged between Malaysian militants and foreign fighters, mostly linked to al-Qaeda, as they fight alongside one another.