KUALA LUMPUR: Senior Islamic State (IS) militants Mohd Rafi Udin, Akel Zainal, Zahar Abdullah and Muhammad Fudhail Omar are possible candidates to take over as the top Malaysian militant.
The death of Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi on April 29 has left a vacuum in the leadership among Malaysian militants with many gunning for the spot.
Intelligence sources revealed that there were many eyeing the position, but the four were believed to be the serious runners due to their seniority and notoriety.
“Wanndy has been the face of Malaysian IS cells for the past three years. While he did not do any actual fighting in Syria, he managed to recruit and arrange attacks in Malaysia,” a source told The Star yesterday.
It is learnt that 38-year-old Akel Zainal, whose real name is Wan Mohd Aquil Wan Zainal Abidin, has been actively recruiting young Malaysians to fight with him in Syria.
“He is a former musician, and has at least 15,000 followers on Facebook.
“He has a certain degree of influence among the IS cells in Malaysia,” another source said.
The second militant – Mohd Rafi, 51, also known as Abu Awn Al-Malizi – was featured in an IS video last year, calling for attacks against secular governments and its leaders.
“In the video, he was seen beheading a Middle Eastern-looking prisoner.
“He has been a militant since his Kumpulan Mujahideen Malaysia (KMM) days in 2001, and even joined Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) before heading to Syria to join IS.
The remaining two militants – 25-year-old Muhammad Fudhail and Zahar, 36, have been known to issue orders to IS terror cells in Malaysia.
“The authorities discovered that a certain number of Malaysian militants have been in contact with the duo and received orders from them.
“They are also actively fighting in Syria for the IS,” the same source said.
Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division head Deputy Comm Datuk Ayob Khan said there was a high possibility that either one of the four militants could take over from Wanndy.
“They have been with the IS since early 2014, and went to Syria the same year.
“We will monitor the development closely,” he said.
He ruled out the possibility of any backlash from Wanndy’s death.
“But the possibility of an attack is always there. Terrorism remains a clear and present danger,” DCP Ayob said.