At least 50 Malaysians fighting in the Islamic State ranks in the Middle East want to return to their country but do not dare to, fearing a backlash from their fellow fighters, the country's police chief said Thursday.
"They have pledged to serve the IS and face death in the hands of fellow militants if they leave the group. They are trapped," Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters in Gombak, Selangor state, according to local dailies, including The Malay Mail.
The police chief added that if there is a way, help will be provided because they are Malaysian citizens.
However, he said, if any of these citizens - some of whom had burnt their passports - managed to return to Malaysia, they will have to face its legal system.
A total of 132 Malaysians are fighting with IS in Iraqi and Syrian territory, according to Interior Ministry figures.
Khalid said of these, 14 were suicide bombers who died in Syria.
Malaysian authorities have already arrested and convicted around 260 people linked to IS.
Malaysia has a population of nearly 30 million people, 61 percent of whom are Muslim.