A family of four is believed to be among 30 Malaysians fighting in the Middle East alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) forces, which has carved out a reputation for brutal treatment of their enemies and hostages.
Sources said the four were believed to be the first Malaysian family fighting in the ongoing civil war in Syria, and were among the hundreds of foreigners who signed up with Isis which had been condemned by most Muslim countries including Malaysia.
The Malaysian Insider understands that the family comprises the parents, their 18-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son.
“The family has been influenced to fight alongside their fellow ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ in the holy crusade currently being waged in Iraq and Syria.
“Authorities received information about the family’s activities in November last year following a series of operations conducted by the police,” a source told The Malaysian Insider in Kuala Lumpur.
The source said the exact location of the family was currently unknown although it has been confirmed that they are all still alive.
“All four family members have been assisting Isis in their battle against Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad,” the source disclosed.
The husband and son are fighting with the extremists while the wife is believed to be a cook for the Isis fighters.
It has yet to be ascertained what is the role of the 18-year-old daughter.
“The daughter used to teach English at a school set up last year for children of Muslim extremists in Malaysia.
“The school was located in one of Malaysia’s northern states,” the source revealed.
The Malaysian Insider had earlier reported that Malaysian women were believed to have travelled to the Middle East to offer Jihad al-Nikah or sexual jihad.
Jihad al-Nikah refers to a controversial concept where Sunni women allegedly offer themselves in sexual comfort roles to fighters for the establishment of Islamic rule.
The concept originated from a Wahhabi edict around 2013 that called for Sunni women supporters to come forward for sex jihad and boost the morale of fighters battling against al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had also said that his ministry was working with intelligence agencies and Interpol to monitor Malaysians travelling via transit countries to Iraq and Syria.
He had told the New Straits Times that police were investigating the claims that Malaysian women were involved in sexual jihad in the Middle East.
“Putrajaya does not condone or endorse the actions of Isis and nor is Malaysia a hub for terrorism and militant activities,” Zahid was quoted by the New Straits Times.
Between January and June this year, police arrested a number of people who were believed to be involved in terrorism activities.
Those arrested included a Rela member and a Royal Malaysian Navy officer, both of whom were picked up by the Special Branch.
Police also seized a home-made rifle and 433 live bullets from the Rela man.
Authorities believe the Rela member aided the militant group which underwent combat training at Gunung Ara Para, Kampung Nyior Ketior, Perak, in December last year.
Isis declared itself a “caliphate” in late June and has since added a swath of northern Iraq to territory it already held in eastern Syria.
The move has prompted a US campaign of air raids backing regional Kurdish and Iraqi forces fighting Isis in the country’s north.
Isis militants were roundly condemned when one of them beheaded US journalist James Foley. The killer had said Foley’s death was in retaliation for US airstrikes on fighters in Iraq.
Isis had recently also released a video that showed the beheading of another US journalist, Steven Sotloff.