WhatsApp video encourages Malaysian, Indonesian militants to head to Gaza to ‘wage jihad’ on Israel
- Video of Malaysian fighters celebrating Eid in Syria was taken in 2014, but is being used to fan sentiment against Israeli attacks in Gaza: security sources
- It follows a joint statement by Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei criticising Israeli attacks and calling for a ceasefire
The video surfaced as the Gaza Health Ministry announced 213 people, including almost 36 women and 61 children, had been killed in Gaza by Israeli attacks over the past week. Israel’s medical service has reported 10 deaths, including two children, since the beginning of the latest batch of fighting, which flared when Israeli police clashed with Palestinians near the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.
A senior Malaysian security source told This Week In Asia that the video had been produced in 2014 and almost all the men in it were now dead, except for the fighter who filmed the footage.
“The person who took the video eventually returned home in August 2014. We have arrested and charged him. He is still serving his prison sentence,” said the source. “The video has re-emerged maybe to create or fan jihadist sentiment among Malaysians against the Israeli attacks in Gaza.”
China offers to mediate Gaza conflict amid international protests against Israel
On Tuesday, hundreds of demonstrators in Jakarta waving Palestinian and Indonesian flags protested outside the United Nations building before marching to the US embassy.
Similar protests were held by union workers in the Indonesian cities of Surabaya, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Makassar and Riau.
Reuters reported that cross-border fighting between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian movement that runs the Gaza Strip, appeared to ease slightly on Tuesday, with no fatalities logged in Gaza for the first time since hostilities erupted on May 10, and fewer long-range Palestinian rocket attacks.
‘This may be the last time’
The video shows a group of Malaysian fighters outside a house in an unidentifiable location in Syria, waving their weapons during Eid celebrations. There is nothing to indicate the year.
“Today, praise be to God, the mujahedin from Malaysia have been called upon to participate in an operation for defence or attack. This may be the last video,” says the man recording the video.
“Do you have anything to say?,” he says as he pans the camera to the Malaysians who raise their weapons and their hands.
“The face is shining, maybe this is a sign,” the man adds.
He then points the camera at two young Malaysian men, whom he describes as “two brothers”.
One of the two men raises his dagger to his neck and makes the motion of slitting a throat.
“Selamat Hari Raya [Happy Eid] to all members of my family and all the people of Malaysia. This may be the last time,” says the man.
‘He’s all that’s left’: Gaza father grasps infant son after Israeli air strike wipes out family
Security sources in both Malaysia and Indonesia doubted that the video would succeed in encouraging jihadis in the region to head for Gaza.
“Among those [jihadists] aligned with Daesh, I don’t think so, because they could have gone to Gaza a long time ago if they wanted to, but they preferred going to Syria because of the attractiveness of the caliphate,” said the Malaysian source, referring to Islamic State, or Isis, by its Arabic acronym, and the territory it had controlled in Syria and Iraq between the years of 2014 and 2019.
“Gaza is not fighting for the caliphate … but fighting for the Palestinians.”
Meanwhile, a senior Indonesian security source said there had been no signs yet of local jihadis heading for Gaza.
In Yogyakarta, Central Java, fliers seeking recruits to fight for Palestine were circulated on Twitter and WhatsApp by a group named Islam Jihad Front. Among the criteria it listed for would-be recruits were a “readiness to die a martyr’s death” and never having “committed vice or smoked”.
FJI is an extremist group based in Yogyakarta, according to Pakar.
Pakar’s Taufiqurrohman said that should the fighting continue there was a chance jihadis from Indonesia might start travelling to Gaza. But he believed the groups had not made any plans for attacks in Indonesia in retaliation for Israel’s actions.
He also said Isis did not want to come to Gaza’s aid as this would be the same as defending Hamas, which Isis views as an “infidel” for cooperating with its fellow “infidel” Iran, a Shia country.
Isis killed many Shia Muslims in the swathes of land it controlled in Syria and Iraq before the fall of its self-declared caliphate.
Over the weekend, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander, Brigadier General Esmail Qaani, underlined Tehran’s support for Palestinians facing Israeli “crimes” in Jerusalem and Gaza.
The Soufan Centre think tank said in a report on Tuesday that there was widespread acceptance that Iran provided arms and financing to militants, particularly Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a smaller and more radical group.
Iranian support had contributed significantly to the increased effectiveness of Hamas attacks on Israel in the latest round of fighting, said the report.