Take Ahmad Salman Abdul Rahim who doesn't believe he's a terrorist but rather doing Allah's will. Quitting his construction job in Malaysia, he made the trek to Syria to join the fighting.
Muhammad, the founder of Islam, once advised a companion to fight in the area that makes up modern-day Syria and predicted that Allah would send an “army of mujahideen” to the region, Ahmad said. He said he’s there to avenge Muslims tortured and killed by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
“We are portrayed as terrorists but I don’t care as this affair is between me and God,” UK-educated Ahmad, 38, said via Facebook messages from near Kfar Zeta in Syria’s Hama region. “Many of the end-of-times battles will happen around Syria. That’s among the reasons why I am here.”
Southeast Asia, like other regions, fears the return of jihadists.
They could return and breathe new life into militant groups in a region with a history of extremism and occasional large-scale terror attacks, and they could radicalize friends and family at home via social media, aided by slick Islamic State promotional videos.
“It is not IS per se that might pose a danger to the region but rather its extreme militant ideology as well as the skills, battleground experience and international networks that Southeast Asian jihadists got from Syria and Iraq,” said Navhat Nuraniyah, an associate research fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies who looks at terrorism and radicalization.
“If even a small minority of them do return, they will be highly respected by existing local groups,” she said. “If they do intend to continue their mission they will have no problem finding recruits and support.”
Then there's Akel Zainal, another Malaysian fighting in Syria. He used to be the drummer with some 1990s pop group.
From Syria he solicits requests from Facebook followers to write their names on mortar shells, printing their names ― as many as five per shell ― next to the words “Malaysian Citizens Together with the Islamic Revolution.”
“US soldiers and other infidel armies usually write down names on bombs that they use on Muslims as a taunt,” Akel wrote on his Facebook page, which showed photos of him walking through the rubble of buildings destroyed by Syrian forces, a gun slung across his back. “Is it wrong then for me to want to taunt them back, these enemies of Allah? It’s my idea, it’s my way of sharing the fervour of the battlefields with my friends. Eat. Pray. Jihad.”There are estimated to be about 40 Malaysians over there, but that's not definitive.
Malaysia fears the return of jihadists could re-inspire local extremist groups like Jemaah Islamiyah.
More interesting information on The Malay Mail Online.