PETALING JAYA: A senior Islamic State (IS) militant who was reportedly next in line to be the group’s Malaysian leader in Syria was killed in an airstrike in Raqqa last month, according to sources.
The sources told the New Straits Times that Muhammad Fudhail Omar, who was known as Abu Qutaibah among his comrades, had been expected to fill the shoes of Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, who was killed in a drone attack in April.
Fudhail, 25, was among three other senior Malaysian militants viewed as potential candidates for the position. The others were Muhammad Rafi Udin, Wan Mohd Aquil Wan Zainal Abidin or Akil Zainal, and Muhammad Zahar.
Sources told the newspaper that Fudhail was persuaded to go to Syria by former PAS member Mohd Lotfi Ariffin. He made his way to the country in 2014 and joined the Ajnad Al Sham group.
At the time, Lotfi was head of the group’s Malaysian outfit in Syria. After Lotfi was killed, Fudhail was appointed as the group’s leader because he could speak Arabic, the sources said.
When Fudhail joined IS later that year, he was tasked with teaching the children of IS members Al-Quran recitation and guarding security posts, they added.
He had also demanded funds from IS sympathisers, telling them that they would be used to help fighters. However, a source said Fudhail had actually used all the money – about RM20,000 in total – for his personal use.
On May 8, Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed the death of Wanndy, who had been IS’ principal coordinator for Malaysia.
The 27-year-old had been on the United States’ most wanted list for involvement in funding and providing operational support for IS.
Wanndy first left for Syria in 2014. He was reportedly linked to the grenade attack on the Movida club in Puchong on June 28 last year, said to be the first attack by IS in Malaysia.