Cops foil bid by terror cell to attack non-Muslim places of worship during Ramadan

IGP Abdul Hamid Bador says the terror suspects were planning the attacks during Ramadan

PETALING JAYA: Bukit Aman’s counter-terrorist division has thwarted a move by a terror cell to kill several high-profile personalities as well as attack several non-Muslim places of worship and entertainment outlets.

Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador said four men, comprising one Malaysian, two Rohingya nationals and an Indonesian, were arrested in swoops carried out in Terengganu and the Klang Valley between May 5 and 7.

Hamid said the operations were carried out after the division detected an Islamic State wolf pack planning to kill the personalities as well as launch the attacks.

“The four suspects admitted to being members of the wolf pack and were ready to launch attacks in Malaysia in the first week of Ramadan to avenge the death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, who died during the Seafield temple riots last year.

“At the same time, they were planning the murders on the personalities they claim to not have defended Islam but have instead insulted Islam,” he told a press conference here today.

He said the arrests led to the seizure of a Czech-made 9mm pistol and 15 bullets, as well as six improvised explosive devices (IEDs) each measuring 18cm.

“These weapons were acquired from a neighbouring country,” he said.

Hamid said the 34-year-old Malaysian arrested in Kuala Berang, Terengganu, on May 5 is the mastermind behind the planned attacks and the leader of the cell.

He said the second man arrested is a UNHCR card holder, aged 20, and supports the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. He was also planning an attack on the Myanmar embassy in Kuala Lumpur and jihad in Rakhine state.

The 49-year-old Indonesian was also planning a jihad in Syria.

Hamid said police were tracking down three other members of the cell – Syazani Mahzan and Muhamad Nuurul Amin Azizan, both 27, from Bedong, Kedah, and Fatir Tir, an Indonesian whose last known address is in Banting, Selangor.

He declined to reveal who the targeted personalities were.

“They (the cell members) had been communicating through a Whatsapp group. The cell had been active since January,” he said.

Asked whether the four had any military training, Hamid said with the mastermind having successfully secured the weapons and IEDs from a neighbouring country, “the process of carrying out the planned attacks becomes very easy”.

He said the pistol and bullets were meant to shoot and kill the personalities while the bombs were meant for churches and temples.

“You can just take the weapons to wherever you need to go and use them. To make a bomb go off, you don’t need any fancy or high tech devices.

“These IEDs are high powered, designed to kill and to cause severe injuries. Similarly with the Czech-made pistol and the 15 bullets. The aim is to kill,” he said.

On how the weapons had been brought into the country, Hamid said this could have been either by sea or by land. He cited Malaysia’s geographical location of having long and wide borders, which are porous.

“You see how easy it is for illegal immigrants to come in, smuggling in weapons is just as easy. The weapons can be hidden in cars, lorries, trucks or boats. You name it. It is that easy,” he said.