KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian police have flagged a worrying recent trend of entire young families leaving to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group because they believe their country is not Islamic enough.
Senior counter-terrorism official Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay told the Malaysian Insider news site that since the end of last year, 10 families - many of them parents in their late 20s - had left Malaysia for Syria.
They totalled 28 in number and included children from as young as a few months to a 16-year-old.
"To these families, it was a dream come true to have migrated from Malaysia, which they label as 'taghut', to a pure Islamic government under a caliph's rule," said the principal assistant director of the Malaysian police's counter-terrorism division. "Taghut" is an Arabic term referring to the worship of anything aside from Allah.
Mr Ayob said the phenomenon is new as ISIS sympathisers used to be predominantly made up of single men or women leaving to join the terrorists on their own.
"They want to migrate so they and their children can live under an Islamic nation led by a caliph," Mr Ayob said.
He added that they were even willing to sell their properties and businesses or empty their savings so as to build a new life in Syria.
Mr Ayob said intelligence reports showed that adult men would join ISIS as fighters, while the wife and children would stay at home. New recruits could receive a US$200 (S$267) allowance and were also given housing.
Police have so far stopped only one family from leaving Malaysia. Last November, police moved in on a Selangor husband and wife who had sold a kindergarten they owned to migrate to Syria.
According to the Malaysian Insider, more than 90 people have been detained for alleged links to terrorist organisations.
Separately, a grocery shop operator was sentenced to two years in jail last Friday for attempting to join ISIS.
Mohd Rosmadi Che Daud, a 43-year-old from Kelantan, was arrested while attempting to board a plane to Istanbul at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport last Sept 25, the New Straits Times reported.
This article was first published on May 24, 2015.
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