PROOF â€“ or the lack of it â€“ is holding back police from arresting the Malaysians who return after fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) militant group, a senior intelligence source said.
“These Malaysians have not been picked up immediately because the burden of proof lies with the police, not the suspects,” he told The Malaysian Insider in Kuala Lumpur.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said although some Malaysians had posted pictures of themselves on social media, these had to be proven as genuine.
“If the Malaysian militant had posted an image of himself wielding an automatic rifle in the Middle East on Instagram or Facebook, police have to verify the image.
“First, was the image really taken in the Middle East? Is the image authentic and genuine? Witnesses are also required to verify if the suspect was really in the Middle East.”
The official said that under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, there were a number of boxes which police needed to tick.
“Getting statements from sources in the Middle East to confirm that a Malaysian citizen was there fighting alongside Isis forces is insufficient,” the official said.
“Police must build a strong case before a Malaysian suspect who fought alongside Isis forces in the Middle East can be charged in court here.
“True, there may be numerous pictures and images posted on social media of Malaysians fighting in the Middle East but who is going to authenticate the images?”
It was recently reported that at least five Isis militants had returned and that police had arrested three of them. The official said of the three arrested, two had been charged in court
The arrests included a â€œtier one personalityâ€, Mohamad Fauzi, known among his comrades as Abu Dayyan.
“We are still monitoring other returning Malaysian fighters and gathering evidence against them. Police are not turning a blind eye to their activities.”
Earlier in Parliament, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said Malaysian Isis fighters were returning to spread militant ideology here.
He said police checks showed that those who returned were not driven by disillusionment or the desire to surrender to the Malaysian authorities, but to influence and recruit others.
â€œThe police are monitoring and they know, those who opted to return are doing so because they want to influence other Malaysians to join their cause, regardless if they are Muslims or not.”
To date, 39 Malaysians have been officially identified as being involved with Isis in Syria, whose aim is to set up an Islamic caliphate in the region.
The New Straits Times, however, recently reported that there were 45 Malaysians in Syria and 15 in Iraq.
It also reported that police may have difficulty in tracing exactly how many have returned as their leaving Malaysia to go to Syria was not properly tracked.
Between January and June this year, police arrested 23 people in various parts of Malaysia over alleged links to the terror group.
The Malaysians fighting alongside Isis forces in the Middle East were influenced to take up the struggle via social media, intelligence sources have said previously.
Some, like former Kedah PAS Youth information chief Lotfi Ariffin who was killed in Syria, had not only posted about his activities with the militants on Facebook, but had issued call-to-action messages, too.
To date, five Malaysians have been killed in action there. –The Malaysian Insider