PETALING JAYA: Police have arrested 19 men suspected of having active links with the Islamic State (IS) militant group, some of whom were planning to launch attacks during the closing ceremony of the 2017 SEA Games on Aug 30 and the 60th Merdeka Day celebrations the following day.
The suspects included 11 foreigners from Bangladesh, Maldives, Iraq, Palestine, Indonesia and the Philippines. A few of them had directly participated in terrorist planning and killings, as well as other combat activities with the IS or its affiliates.
In his first statement since being appointed as the new inspector-general of police (IGP) yesterday, Mohamad Fuzi Harun today said the individuals were intercepted during a special operation by the Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division from July 4 till Aug 30 in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Kelantan and Johor.
The operation culminated on Aug 30 in a special raid with Bukit Aman’s Special Action Unit (UTK) in Cheras where eight men believed to be with the extremist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the Philippines, which is supportive of IS, were caught.
“The arrests involved two Philippine nationals and six Malaysians aged between 20 and 52,” Fuzi said.
“The main suspect aged 25 is a member of the ASG who had smuggled his way into Sandakan, Sabah, before coming to Kuala Lumpur in December 2015,” he added.
“The suspect was involved in the conflict with the Philippine army, had kidnapped six Filipino hostages and beheaded a Christian hostage in southern Philippines in 2010.”
Fuzi added that he had also met with Mahmud Ahmad, Mohd Najib Hussein and Muhammad Juraimee Awang Ramlee, the Malaysians who have been active with ASG since 2014, at Tipo-Tipo village in Basilan in September 2015.
“The information that has been revealed to us is that this suspect was planning to launch attacks during the closing ceremony of the 29th SEA Games at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium and 60th Merdeka Day parade at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.
Fuzi said the first arrest on July 4 had involved a Bangladeshi religious teacher, who is believed to be a member of the Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh, an IS-linked terrorist outfit, in Shah Alam
The 25-year old was working as a temporary teacher at a tahfiz school (for teaching of Quran recitation) in Gombak.
“The suspect, who is wanted by Bangladeshi police, had entered Malaysia on Sept 4, 2016 to pursue studies at an institution of higher learning,” Fuzi said.
This was followed by arrests on Aug 7 and 9 in Johor Bahru involving a 40-year old Malaysian businessman and two suspects from the Maldives.
The Malaysian allegedly had in his possession six copies of Dabiq, an IS magazine used for the network’s propaganda, together with several articles related to IS in his mobile phone, Fuzi said.
The two Maldivians aged 29 and 33, who worked as air-conditioning technicians, were suspected of using Malaysia and Singapore as transit points before travelling to Syria to join the IS campaign there.
The third set of arrests on Aug 11 included a 63-year old retired Malaysian teacher in Bachok, Kelantan, who was allegedly found promoting IS through two Facebook accounts.
It also saw two Iraqi brothers aged 41 and 63, who were also technicians, being caught in Gombak, based on their alleged activities as IS commanders in southern Iraq.
Subsequently, another Iraqi and a Palestinian were apprehended on Aug 15 and 16 in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur
“The Palestinian is suspected of planning to join Daesh terrorists in southern Philippines, and the Iraqi national is believed to have been involved in an Albanian terrorist organisation connected to Daesh,” Fuzi said, citing IS’s other name.
On Aug 24, two Indonesians aged 29 and 47 were caught in Petaling Jaya where they were operating as traders in Damansara.
“Both of them were arrested because they are suspected of actively recruiting new members for the Daesh terrorist group and were planning to leave for Syria to participate with Daesh there,” Fuzi said.
All the 19 individuals are being detained and investigated under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), he added.