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ISIS’ continued broad appeal worrying for Southeast Asia

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24 Oct ISIS’ continued broad appeal worrying for Southeast Asia

News of ISIS successfully targeting Southeast Asian professionals and women have worrying implications for the region. Earlier this month, Malaysia announced the arrest of 14 individuals suspected of links to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), including a senior assistant director at Malaysia’s Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry.

According to Malaysian experts, the arrests prove that ISIS is recruiting more than just soldiers, but educated men and women who can help run an actual functioning Islamic state, both in the Middle East and potentially across Asia.

The arrests also included at least one man who had fought for ISIS in Syria and returned to Malaysia, as a ‘poster boy’ for ISIS recruitment. Asian governments have previously warned of the threat posed by such returnees. This is no longer hypothetical, but a concrete reality.

In addition, among the arrested were two women who had reportedly served as top recruiters for ISIS in Malaysia. This is also significant, as the popular perception is that militant groups recruit dissatisfied young men. ISIS, however, has proven to have broad appeal to both genders, and employ subtlety in their recruitment tactics.

Recent reports say that ISIS fighters in the Middle East have also formed a combat unit specifically for Malaysians, Indonesians, and other Bahasa speakers, some of whom have appeared in videos, Facebook posts, and other online media urging their fellow South-east Asians to support ISIS.

Sources

Malaysia charges 3 with supporting ISIS
 [Rappler (AFP), 23 Oct 2014]

ISIS eyes Malaysia’s pool of professional talent [Straits Times, 22 Oct 2014]

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons