Everything anyone might want to know about the Islamic State (Isis) is a few keyboard strokes away on the Internet. From its fighters’ daily activities, recipes cooked by the militants’ wives, to the terror network’s bigger agenda in forming a new caliphate across the Middle East.
Isis has savvy strategists who look after their online propaganda, and this includes producing content to convince others to take up their cause.
One of their recent productions is a pamphlet with Quranic verses on female slaves that they have manipulated and used to their benefit.
“Isis is well structured but the two main departments that they focus on are the online team and their (physical) armies. They are strong because they know how to get through to the masses using the social media and online media. They know where to find people who would submit to their beliefs,” said a source working in counter-terrorism.
Intelligence officials said Isis recently published a pamphlet which was shared through one of its Twitter accounts in November.
The hardcopy version is printed by its publishing house, the Al-Himma Library, and is titled Su’al wa-Jawab fi al-Sabi wa-Riqab, or Questions and Answers on Taking Captives and Slaves.
In the pamphlet, certain Quranic verses are used to justify the acts of taking slaves for sex and having sex with underage girls.
Using the question-and-answer format, one of the questions in the pamphlet asks: “Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive?”
In the answer, it says this is permissible and cites: “Allah the almighty said: ‘(Successful are the believers) who guard their chastity, except from their wives (or the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are free from blame (Quran 23:5-6)’…”
“Quranic verses are being manipulated over and over again to show that their actions are permissible, (it is) the same with killing non-Muslims and that it was not a sin to kill them,” said the source.
The verses, read in isolation, lead many to believe in Isis cruelty when the Quran should be read as a whole to understand its context, the source added.
“They came up with their own holy book using Quranic verses to convince people. Those who lack knowledge and are seeking guidance can be easily influenced.
“One verse is linked to another so one should read as a whole. This is the problem with those seeking guidance but are not reading correctly,” he said.
Another problem, however, is that propaganda material, like the pamphlet, is easily available online.
So far, Malaysian police have yet to confiscate any such material in printed form from Malaysians arrested for their links with Isis. It is learnt that the items seized have mainly been flags and small items.
To date, 67 Malaysians are known to have gone to Syria and Iraq, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was reported as saying recently.
Another 120 people are in police custody for suspected Isis links or for being sympathisers, he had also said.
The Malaysians fighting alongside Isis forces in the Middle East were influenced to take up the struggle via social media, intelligence sources had said previously.
Five, so far, have been killed in fighting there.
Some, like former Kedah PAS Youth information chief Lotfi Ariffin who was killed in Syria, had not only posted about their activities with the militants on Facebook, but had issued call-to-action messages, too.
On November 26, Parliament approved the White Paper on combating the threat posed by Isis, with a promise to enact a new law to help prevent such threats in future, Bernama had reported.
Zahid had said that the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act would stress on prevention.