PETALING JAYA: Malaysian police have arrested eight individuals, including three Filipinos and an Albanian, for suspected involvement with terrorist groups in an operation launched by the Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division in three states.
Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said the operation conducted between Sept 27 and Oct 6 also saw four Malaysian citizens being nabbed, while one of the Filipinos arrested had permanent resident status.
He said one of the Malaysians was a convict arrested in Tapah for allegedly recruiting people in prison to launch attacks on places of worship in the country.
The first wave of arrests was made on September 27, with two Malaysians and three Philippine nationals arrested under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) in Sandakan, Sabah.
Aged between 30 and 53, they were all suspected of being connected to activities to help elements from the militant Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) from southern Philippines to infiltrate into Malaysia via Sabah, he said.
“This operation was conducted subsequent to the arrests of seven members of the ASG cell in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 14,” he said in a statement today.
This was followed by the arrest of the 35-year old Albanian on Oct 1, also under Sosma, he added.
“The suspect, a law lecturer at a public higher education institute, was arrested in Selangor because he had connections with members of the Islamic State terrorist group overseas,” Fuzi said.
“The third set of arrests was made on Oct 6, involving two suspects who were former Sosma detainees in Tapah, Perak,” he added.
He said they had been arrested before on Feb 7, 2013, for involvement in terrorist activities and sentenced to seven years in prison on January 27 last year.
The first suspect, aged 52, was arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (Pota). He had also been previously detained under the now repealed Internal Security Act 1960 for seven years.
“He is suspected of recruiting prison convicts to become members of a terrorist group and planning to launch attacks on Muslim, Christian and Hindu houses of worship to trigger conflict among followers of the religions in Malaysia,” he said.
“Besides that, he is also suspected of hiding information on one of the Tandzim Al-Qaeda Malaysia (TAQM) members who is wanted by the police.
He said the suspect and his accomplice aged 37 also arrested in Tapah were also suspected of recruiting two other Malaysians to join the TAQM.
On Sept 5, Fuzi had announced the arrests of 19 men suspected of having active links with the Islamic State, 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.
On Sept 15, he announced the arrest of a man who was suspected of having received orders from IS to launch attacks on non-Muslims and their places of worship in Malaysia.
The 21-year old was one of three people arrested in operations conducted in Perak, Selangor and Melaka from Sept 8 to Sept 10. He had allegedly been told how to assemble explosive devices and had tried to produce a bomb.
On Sept 21, seven Philippine men suspected of involvement in activities of the ASG were arrested in the Klang valley. The men reportedly worked as security guards for private companies in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.