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Rohingya refugees prime target for Islamic State recruiters

Tenaganita executive director Glorene Das believes that the Rohingya can be exploited and radicalised by IS if they continue to be left in the fringes of society.

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PETALING JAYA: The marginalisation of Rohingya refugees who had fled Myanmar to come to Malaysia could be a factor in them being a prime target for Islamic State (IS) recruiters, Channel News Asia (CNA) reported.

Sharing the same view as Malaysian authorities, a migrant rights experts said the likely scenario would be that the IS could offer the refugees a sense of belonging and identity.

“If IS is willing to give them a sense of belonging, an identity and probably remuneration, which is far more than being paid by an employer or having their own business, won’t they be tempted to join this group?

“Because they know they will have a sense of belonging and sense of security if they join,” Tenaganita executive director Glorene Das told the Singapore-based news broadcaster.

She added that the Rohingya, who have been described as the most persecuted minority on earth, can be exploited and radicalised by IS if they continue to be left in the fringes of society.

Following the arrest earlier this month of an Indonesian, who was a suspected IS follower, trying to leave Malaysia to carry out attacks in Myanmar, there have been fears of a recruitment by IS from the Rohingya refugees in the country.

According to a Reuters report, more than 55,000 Rohingya refugees are registered with the United Nations in Malaysia. Non-profit groups estimate as many as 200,000 Rohingya are living in Malaysia, many working in restaurants and constructions sites.

Analysts warn the large number of Rohingya migrants are a potential pool of recruits for militants.

“The network between Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Rohingya is there,” a programme executive director of the Malaysian counter-militancy group, Iman Research told Reuters.

Badrul Hisham Ismail said his group had discovered Malaysian militants involved in recruiting Rohingya and sending them to Poso, Philippines, for training.

However, the founder of a school at a Rohingya refugee centre in Kuala Lumpur says education is key to ensuring the children stay clear of extremism and becoming possible targets for militant groups.

“This Rohingya issue is not new, it’s been there for many years. Even during the time of Al-Qaeda, the Rohingya didn’t go and join them, so why would they now?

“We are very strong in our heart and we are looking for our rights back in Myanmar, the right way, which is through diplomatic channels with the Myanmar government,” Uztaz Rafik was quoted as saying by CNA.

He added that apart from being taught how to read and write, the children also learn about other ethnic cultures and religious tolerance.

More than 100 children aged between five and 13 are being schooled by teachers and volunteers from mosques, churches and temples, CNA reported.

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