- POSTED: 02 Jul 2014 20:30
- UPDATED: 02 Jul 2014 20:33
Malaysian police have released five photos of wanted Malaysian militants believed to be hiding in the southern Philippines. Among them -- a lecturer from the University of Malaya, Dr Mahmud Ahmad, also known as Abu Handzalah.
MALAYSIA: Malaysian police have released five photos of wanted Malaysian militants believed to be hiding in the southern Philippines.
Among the wanted Malaysian militants -- a lecturer from the University of Malaya, Dr Mahmud Ahmad, also known as Abu Handzalah; Mohd Najib Husen, a.k.a Abraham, who runs a stationery shop in the same university; and municipal council worker Muhd Joraimee, also known as Abu Nur.
The three are said to have been involved in recruiting for militant group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant -- now known simply as the Islamic State.
Another two suspects, Jeknal Adil and Mohd Amin Baco, were members of Darul Islam Sabah -- a homegrown militant group linked to the Abu Sayyaf, a Philippine off-shoot of the terror network Al Qaeda.
The police believe the men are hiding in the southern Philippines.
As Malaysia steps up its fight against terror, Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has warned of a rise in militancy, especially in the Sulu strait, that may threaten regional stability.
He said: "I look at it with even more urgency now because of the developments globally (such as) what is happening in Iraq.
"We have been preoccupied with kidnapping, we've been preoccupied with smuggling, but nobody has looked at it in the context of militancy -- and that is the role of the military. We in Southeast Asia, we in ASEAN cannot take it for granted.''
Iraqi militant group the Islamic State's recent call to set up a caliphate in the Middle East has revived calls by Southeast Asian militant groups of a caliphate in the region.
It is an idea that had been championed previously by regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah.
However, some terror experts said that is unlikely to gain traction with home-grown terror groupings, which are mostly small, inexperienced and disorganised.
Dr Zakaria Ahmad, associate professor at Help University, said: "Over 40 groups have been identified and the police have been keeping a close eye on them. It's important to remember that these groups are not integrated -- they're very sporadic... They're not linked."
But that may change, with more Malaysians reportedly being recruited, and are now training and fighting alongside militants in Iraq and Syria. The government fears that local groups may link up with regional terror networks, as they have done in the past, and pose a real threat to national security.