KUALA LUMPUR: Six suspected Islamic State (IS) militants who were planning attacks on several houses of worship in Johor Baru, besides targeting officers from the Johor police headquarters, have been arrested.
The suspects were picked up by the Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division.
“They were caught mere days before they could launch simultaneous attacks on non-Muslim houses of worship as well as kidnapping and killing police personnel.
“The terror cell also had Counter Terrorism officers on their ‘hit list’,” a source told The Star.
It is learnt that the terror cell had acquired weapons from Thailand.
“They have been active since early last year and were taking orders from another terror cell in a neighbouring country.
“We believe remnants of the terror cell are still at large and hiding in the northern part of the country,” another source said.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said three men, including a 37-year-old technician, were initially arrested on Feb 27.
“We believe the technician spearheaded plans to attack the houses of worship and was also active in recruiting new militants,” he said.
The other two suspects were security guards aged 30 and 49.
The older suspect provided advice and taught other cell members how to hide their plans.
The third suspect was tasked with getting firearms and scouting several houses of worship they were targeting, he said.
Three other members of the terror cell were detained on Feb 28 and March 1, added the IGP.
“One of them – a 25-year-old waiter – was tasked with kidnapping and murdering police personnel while two others were intermediaries in purchasing firearms,” he said.
Aside from the Johor terror cell, Mohamad Fuzi said police also arrested a 31-year-old Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member in Sabah on March 15.
“The Filipino man is a trusted lieutenant to Furuji Indama, the ASG leader based in Basilan.
“We believe the suspect has connections to Malaysian militant Dr Mahmud Ahmad (who was killed in Marawi) and was also wanted by the Philippines for his involvement in a kidnap-for-ransom syndicate,” he said.
He added the suspect is an expert in 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.
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