Malaysia’s police chief announced yesterday that a group of Malaysians is already in Myanmar with plans to fight the country’s military, whose ongoing crackdown in Rakhine State has forced over 410,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.
The group is believed to have entered the country via Bangladesh and Thailand. It is not clear yet whether they have launched any attacks.
“We are determining how many of them are there [in Myanmar] and how many are planning to leave Malaysia [for Myanmar],” Royal Malaysia Police inspector-general Mohamad Fuzi Harun told The Straits Times.
Since the current mass displacement of the Rohingya began in late August, militant groups, including ISIS, have been recruiting Malaysians to fight the Myanmar army. However, Malaysia’s anti-terror chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said the group that is suspected to already be in Myanmar is not affiliated with ISIS.
“They are not ISIS…We do not have intelligence that shows ISIS and ARSA have joined forces,” Ayob told The Straits Times. “But the issue in Rakhine is being exploited by ISIS [to recruit more fighters] in Southeast Asia.”
Furthermore, Ayob told Free Malaysia Today that while his forces have picked up two men in Malaysia believed to be planning to launch attacks in Myanmar, the current presence of Malaysian fighters in Myanmar still needs confirmation.
“We are still pursuing information on whether there are Malaysians already in Myanmar to help the Arakan Rohinya Salvation Army fight the Myanmar security forces,” he said.
Ayob previously told the Bernama news agency that photos depicting the suffering of the Rohingya community are being by ISIS to recruit Malaysian members.
“Myanmar’s proximity to Malaysia encouraged ISIS to act in Rakhine. Myanmar is closer to Malaysia than Syria and the southern Philippines, where the conflict is ongoing, and now Rakhine has become their latest destination for jihad,” he said.
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