29 July 2015
The announcement that a Singaporean has been detained for trying to join militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has revived questions over the reach of the group in South-east Asia, and why it continues to win followers.
A key concern, analysts say, is how much help Mustafa Sultan Ali, who was captured in Turkey and deported last month, received in his bid to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS.
Counter-terrorism analysts said accounts of how fighters from Malaysia and Indonesia made their way to Syria suggest that ISIS may have cultivated a South-east Asian network of online recruiters capable of communicating with, and arranging passage for, would-be fighters from the region to enter Turkey and then Syria. Related Story
… Mr Jasminder Singh of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) said Mustafa likely made contact with an ISIS fighter or recruiter through social media.
“For him to fly to Turkey, he would most likely have made contact with an agent – someone from the other side to take him across the land border to Syria,” he said.
… Fellow RSIS analyst Vikram Rajakumar said that for a middle-aged person with some religious grounding to embrace ISIS’ ideology could mean he has a strong anti-establishment streak, for instance.
“If you have a perceived way of how you want to live your life, and you are unable to do so, you might see this as an avenue out… where you leave your worldly belongings and have a fresh start in some utopia,” he said.
ICPVTR / Online / Print
Last updated on 16/11/2015