KUALA LUMPUR: Seven suspected terrorists allegedly planning multiple attacks in the country have been detained in Sabah and Johor.
The suspects were arrested by the Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division in multiple operations held between Feb 27 and March 15.
Six of the suspects arrested in Johor were members of an Islamic State (IS) cell and had planned attacks on non-Muslim houses of worship as well as the kidnapping and killing of police personnel.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said the first series of arrests involved three suspects on Feb 27.
"The mastermind is a 37-year-old technician who spearheaded plans to attack houses of worship in Johor Baru. He was also actively recruiting new militants.
"The second suspect is a 49-year-old security guard and adviser to the terror cell," he said adding that the suspect was in charge of keeping the cell and its plans secret.
"He also threatened to kill any cell members who leaked the secrets.
"The third suspect, a 30-year-old security guard, was tasked with acquiring firearms from a neighbouring country.
"He also scouted several houses of worship targeted by the terror cell," he said in a statement on Saturday.
Mohd Fuzi added that the suspects planned to escape to a neighbouring country and seek refuge from a terror group there after carrying out their plans.
He said three other members of the same cell were detained in follow-up operations.
"One of them – a 25-year-old waiter – was arrested on Feb 28 and we learnt that the mastermind had ordered him to kidnap and kill police personnel.
"Two others, aged 23 and 22, were arrested on March 1 and were working as janitors in Singapore. One of them acted as the intermediary in the purchase of firearms for the cell," he said.
The final arrest was of a 31-year-old Abu Sayyaf member in Sabah on March 15, added Mohamad Fuzi.
"The Filipino man is a trusted lieutenant to Furuji Indama, the group's leader based in Basilan.
"We believe the suspect has connections to Malaysian militant Dr Mahmud Ahmad and is also wanted by Philippines' authorities for involvement in a kidnap-for-ransom syndicate," he said.
He added that the suspect was an expert at making improvised explosive devices.
"He also planned to attack several locations in Sabah and was entrusted to make the state a safe haven for terror groups from the Philippines," he said.