Think of IS as a biz group, says expert

SUBANG JAYA: A political scientist who is a member of the police anti-terrorism task force has called for a paradigm shift in dealing with the threat posed by the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

“Think of it as a business organisation,” said Ahmad El-Muhammady, who teaches political science and Islamic studies at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).

He said IS was more than just a terrorist organisation, noting that it operated like a well-structured business corporation, with its corporate vision and mission expressed in several texts, such as one with the title “The Management of Savagery”.

He said the group had “products” that it would “sell” to “consumers” all over the word and it had branches in various countries and was engaged in various “joint venture projects”.

Its main asset, he added, were the oil rigs in the large area under its control in the Middle East.

Ahmad also noted that unlike Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah, which would gain followers through direct recruitment, IS used the Internet to attract its following.

Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi said recently that 75% of Malaysians recruited into IS did so through online social media.

Zahid said the recruitment strategy used by IS was characterised by slick advertising and attractive packaging of ideas.

“It has magazines and its own TV channels,” he noted.

He said many Malaysians joining IS were likely to do so for one or more of three reasons – religious, political and personal. Under the religious justification, they join the group because they feel obliged to help Muslim brothers under attack. Others join up because they are against secular governments. And then there are those who join the group because of marriage or other personal reasons.

He said Malaysians should not depend solely on legal enforcement to combat IS’ increasing influence in the country. He called on civic organisations and educational institutions to play a role by educating the public against being taken in by the group’s propaganda.

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