PETALING JAYA: The common belief is that all Malaysians who travel to Syria for militant activities join the so-called Islamic State (IS).
In reality, there are a few different rebel groups recruiting Malaysians to join the fight against President Bashar Al-Assad's Syrian Armed Forces.
The four most popular armed groups in the country are the IS, Ajnad al-Sham, the Al-Nusra Front (also known as Al-Qaeda in Syria) and the Free Syrian Army.
These groups may form alliances or have conflicts among themselves depending on the situation at the time. However, all of them do not support IS, and work in isolation.
"In the beginning of the Syrian conflict, between 2011 and 2013, many Malaysians joined either Ajnad al-Sham or the Al-Nusra Front.
"Later, some of them migrated to IS because they were forced to abandon their own groups," said terror expert and IIUM lecturer Ahmad El-Muhammady.