KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — Lonely women who spend a lot of time on social media risk being seduced into joining the Islamic State (IS) militant movement, a minister said today.
Religious Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said that such women who are “trapped” or influenced by social media are at risk of becoming recruits, especially when they are “treated in a romantic manner” by militants like IS members who scout for new blood on the internet.
“These women who are trapped in social media sites and who are lonely are then treated in a romantic manner (by IS militants) and in the end, when they are invited or called to go there (Syria, Lebanon or Iraq), they adhere and [buy] their plane tickets willingly,” Jamil Khir told reporters during a press conference here after launching a seminar on on jihad, extremism and radical understanding and the threats they pose to the country.
“So, this also worries us especially if there are children or young girls, like the 14-year-old who willingly took the shortcut recently to fly (to Syria),” the minister added.
He said this is why government intervention is important in fighting and curbing such influence.
On February 20, a 14-year-old schoolgirl from Muar was arrested at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) whilst trying to travel to Syria to join IS.
Last month, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar also confirmed that the police detained a 28-year-old housewife as she was attempting to fly to a neighbouring country from KLIA, before making her way to Syria to join IS.
IS is a jihadist militant group that uses brutal tactics such as murder and beheadings in Syria and Iraq, and which states its goal as the establishment of an Islamic caliphate purportedly based on Shariah law.
The group is categorised as a terrorist organisation by Malaysia and many other countries.
Jamil said that from 2001 until April 7 this year, 173 Malaysians have been identified as having travelled abroad to be involved in militancy, mostly taken in by twisted interpretations of “jihad” and martyrdom.
He said to address this issue, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) will explain about the real meaning of jihad, or “struggle” in Arabic, in Friday sermons once a month.
“I had already informed the Cabinet that the sermons will be used at least once a month to spread awareness and explain about jihad, so that the real concept is understood,” Jamil added.
He said that the move is crucial, especially to curb the ideologies which those who might have survived the war in militant controlled regions and returned home, would spread to the rest.