Who Is Dr Mahmud Ahmad, Former Universiti Malaya Lecturer Turned IS Financier?

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Malaysian militant Dr Mahmud Ahmad has played an instrumental role in spreading terror in the Southeast Asian region.

He is suspected to be tasked with handling the financial aspects of Islamic State in this regions, receiving more than RM500,000 in donations from Islamic State militants and sympathisers since 2014.

According to a report by the Institute For Policy Of Analysis Of Conflict, he facilitated the transfer of funds from Syria through Indonesia to the Philippines via Western Union several times between January and May this year.

However, he did not limit the transfer of money through electronic transfer alone, as other intelligence sources have revealed he utilised couriers and dead drops since three years ago.

“The couriers, mostly from Malaysia and Indonesia, would fly to Tawau before using illegal routes to Mindanao,” a source told The Star. They would drop a bag of cash in a designated area to be retrieved by another militant to deliver it to Dr Mahmud.

One example was back in January, when Ahmad contacted Achmad Supriyanto also known as Damar, who is a member of the militant group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), in Banten, Indonesia to solicit his help in getting funds from Syria to the Philippines.

Both men used the smartphone messaging application Telegram, which is currently banned in Indonesia for security reasons.

In March, Dr Mahmud contacted Damar again to retrieve a stash of US$20,000 which had arrived in Indonesia and ordered him to contact another JAD operative in Syria named Munawar, who in turn instructed Damar to retrieve the money at Bekasi and sent it to the Philippines.

This method of money delivery makes it hard for the security forces to track Dr Mahmud down.

Dr. Mahmud helped fund the IS month-long siege of Marawi by ensuring funds to acquire firearms, food and other supplies for the attack including money believed to be from illegal drugs also funded the uprising, AP reports.

Earlier last month, media reports circulated that Mahmud had been killed following the Philippine troops intensifying their crackdown on the Marawi militants although Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar had issued a statement denying this.

"Mahmud is still alive and fighting in Marawi (on Mindanao island)," IGP Khalid was quoted saying by The New Straits Times.

Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division chief Deputy Comm Datuk Ayob Khan also confirmed of Dr Mahmud’s money delivery tactics, and have taken precautionary steps by arresting those responsible for channeling IS funds.

“We have arrested 19 suspects for terrorism funding offences. Sixteen have been charged in court and three others held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota).

“Three of them channelled more than RM200,000 to Dr Mahmud,” he said.

DCP Ayob also commented on a statement by the report, saying threats would increase in Indonesia and Malaysia after Marawi, as the incident there inspire militants in Southeast Asia to carry out new attacks.

“Marawi marks the first time IS in the region was able to take control of an area that has since evolved into a command centre for their false caliphate.

“In fact, our operations led to Dr Mahmud and others fleeing to the Philippines for refuge in 2014. (He ran) because those arrested had links with the IS-affiliated Arakan Daulah Islamiah cell led by him,” DCP Ayob said.

This year, the counter terrorism division has conducted three operations in combating militant recruitment cells in Kuala Lumpur and Sabah, which were recruiting people from Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

“Their apprehension is proof that the police will not let these terror cells spread,” DCP Ayob concluded.

-- Malaysiand Digest