KUALA LUMPUR: Police have detained 19 suspected terrorists, including eight Abu Sayyaf militants, in major raids across four states.
The suspects – 11 foreigners and eight Malaysians – were arrested by the Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division following raids in Kelantan, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Johor between July 4 and Aug 30.
In the first raid, a 25-year-old Bangladeshi who worked as a temporary teacher at a religious school in Gombak, was arrested in Shah Alam on July 4.
“He is suspected of being a member of Jamatul Muhahideen Bangladesh, which is an Islamic State (IS) affiliate.
“The suspect entered Malaysia on Sept 4 last year under the pretext of furthering his studies,” newly appointed Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said in a statement Tuesday.
The second raid involved the arrests of a Malaysian and two Maldives nationals, who were arrested in Johor Baru on Aug 7 and Aug 9.
“The 40-year-old Malaysian trader was arrested for being in possession of six issues of Dabiq, the official IS newsletter, and a few IS-related articles on his mobile phone.
“The two Maldives men, who worked as air-conditioner technicians, were arrested for using Malaysia and Singapore as a transit point before heading to Syria to join IS,” he said.
The next series of raids on Aug 11 saw a 63-year-old Malaysian retired teacher and two Iraqi nationals arrested in Kelantan and Selangor.
“The retired teacher was arrested in Bachok, Kelantan for actively promoting IS propaganda via his two Facebook accounts, while the two Iraqi nationals – who are siblings – were arrested in Gombak as we suspect they are commanders of an IS cell in southern Iraq,” he said.
The country’s new top cop said the next batch of arrests on Aug 15 and Aug 16 in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor involved a Palestinian man who planned to head to southern Philippines to the IS faction there, and an Iraqi man believed to be linked to an IS-friendly Albanian terror cell.
“We also arrested two Indonesian men, aged 29 and 47, in Petaling Jaya on Aug 25 for actively recruiting militants for IS and who were planning to head to Syria,” he said.
Mohamad Fuzi said the last raid on Aug 30 saw eight members of the Abu Sayyaf group – two Philippines nationals and six Malaysians – arrested in Cheras with the cooperation of the Special Action Unit (UTK).
“The mastermind of this group is a 25-year-old man who sneaked into Sandakan, Sabah and headed to Kuala Lumpur in December, 2015.
“He was involved in six kidnappings of Philippines nationals as well clashes with the Philippines military,” he said, adding that the suspect was also responsible for murdering a Christian hostage in southern Philippines in 2010.
The suspect is believed to have held meetings with Malaysian militants Dr Mahmud Ahmad, Mohd Najib Hussein and Muhammad Juraimee Awang Ramlee at Kampung Tipo-Tipo in Basilan, in September, 2015.
“We received intelligence that the same suspect planned to launch attacks during the closing of the SEA Games in Bukit Jalil and during the National Day celebration in Dataran Merdeka,” he said.
All suspects were detained under the Security Offences Act (Special Measures) 2012 (Sosma).