PETALING JAYA: Police have identified and taken action on a number of inmates in Tapah Prison who have allegedly been radicalised by a fellow prisoner with links to an Islamic terrorist network.
Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun was cited by The Sunday Times (ST) of Singapore as saying that the 53-year-old suspect had been found recruiting convicts to join a militant group to help carry out attacks on religious buildings in the country.
“We’ve known for quite some time that he had been recruiting inmates (there), but we can’t disclose when it started. Those who have been radicalised have also been identified,” he was quoted as saying.
He added that the suspect, who had just been released from prison, was arrested with a 37-year-old acquaintance in Tapah on Friday.
According to the ST report, the home ministry had begun isolating detainees held for militant activities from other prisoners to curb the spread of terror ideology in Malaysian jails.
Seven prison wardens had fallen under the influence of detainees involved in militant groups last year, it added.
Since 2013, at least 332 Malaysians and foreigners with links to terrorist outfits had been put in prison in Malaysia, the report said.
They include army personnel and policemen, as well as women who wanted to join the Islamic State (Daesh) in Syria, it said.
In a statement yesterday, Fuzi had said that the 53-year-old, arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2002 (Pota), and his acquaintance, were also former detainees under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).
He said they had been arrested before on Feb 7, 2013, for involvement in terror activities.
The suspect also had a record of being detained for seven years under the now repealed Internal Security Act 1960, Fuzi said.
“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,” Fuzi 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 added that the 37-year-old accomplice was also suspected of recruiting two other Malaysians to join the TAQM.
They were arrested in an operation carried out by the Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division in Sabah, Selangor and Perak between Sept 27 and Oct 6.
Besides the duo, six other individuals, including three Filipinos and an Albanian, were nabbed for suspected involvement with terrorist groups.
The first wave of arrests was made on Sept 27 , with two Malaysians and the three Philippine nationals arrested under 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 the southern Philippines to infiltrate into Malaysia via Sabah, he said.
This was followed by the arrest of the 35-year-old Albanian, who was in the country as a lecturer at a public higher education institute, in Selangor on Oct 1, also under Sosma.
Fuzi said the Albanian had alleged connections with members of the IS terrorist group overseas.