A SENIOR Islamic State militant who had been singled out to be the next Malaysian chief in Syria has been killed in an airstrike, according to intelligence.
Muhammad Fudhail Omar, 25, died last month in an airstrike by the Syrian military in besieged Raqqa, which served as the militant group’s de facto capital.
Known as Abu Qutaibah among his comrades, Fudhail was poised to step into the shoes left by Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, the former No. 1 for Malaysians fighting with IS in Syria. He was killed in a drone attack in April.
Besides Fudhail, three other senior Malaysians viewed as ripe candidates for the commanding post are Muhammad Rafi Udin, Wan Mohd Aquil Wan Zainal Abidin (or Akil Zainal) and Muhammad Zahar.
Authorities believe they are still in Raqqa.
Fudhail made his way to Syria on May 2, 2014 after being persuaded by former Pas Kedah member Ustaz Mohd Lotfi Ariffin, who was among the first Malaysians to go to Syria a few months earlier.
Lotfi and his comrades had used Facebook to lure Malay-
sians to the battlefield and spread IS ideology.
“He (Fudhail) made his way to Syria in 2014 to join the Ajnad Al Sham group. Lotfi was then head of the group’s Malaysian outfit in Syria.
“After Lotfi was killed, he (Fudhail) was appointed as the leader among Malaysians in the group because he could speak Arabic.
“Fudhail, with other Malay-
sians in the group, then joined IS in late 2014, where he was given the task of teaching children of IS members Al-Quran recitation and guarding security posts,” sources told the New Straits Times.
Fudhail had also been actively disseminating IS ideology and recruiting new militants via social media.
Among those influenced by him was a 17-year-old Sabahan who was told to carry out a lone wolf attack and slaughter foreign tourists in Sandakan last year.
The teenager, who also threaten to kill Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar on Facebook, was, however, arrested before he could carry out the instructions.
Rafi Udin, who was among the first to reach Syria (with Lotfi in Feb 2014), is the most senior Malaysian militant in Syria.
Sources said the recruitment drive would likely be handled by Akil Zainal and Zahar.
A source said intelligence also revealed that, like Wanndy, Fudhail had swindled funds channelled by sympathisers to the terror group for his personal gain.
“Besides actively recruiting Malaysians to join IS in Syria, he also demanded funds from them, telling them that the money would be used to help fighters.
“He, however, used all the money ‘donated’ by sympathisers, totalling some RM20,000, for his personal use,” the source added.
Fudhail had supposedly married an Indonesian single mother, whose husband was killed in battle. He had a son with her.
To date, 34 Malaysians have been killed in Iraq and Syria since 2013.
Currently, there are 53 Malay-
sian IS members left in Syria, and none of them have shown any sign of wanting to return to the country.
At the same time, authorities have not detected new arrivals in Syria of Malaysians who want to join IS.