KUALA LUMPUR: Eight men suspected of terrorist links with groups in Yemen had been planning to spread Salafi Jihadi extremist teachings in the region by making Malaysia its central hub.
Under the guise of an Islamic Learning Centre in Perlis, the cult aims to recruit new members and promote their teachings, which permit the killing of non-Muslims and even Muslims who do not follow their ways.
Sources said the students were required not to shave their beards while wearing trousers was a strict violation.
“One of the students was forced to study by himself because he insisted on wearing jeans.
“The rest of the group would not even acknowledge the student or even wish him ‘salam’,” a source told The Star.
“They are required to wake up early in the morning and surrender themselves fully to the cult’s doctrine.
“To them, life outside the cult is deemed secular which goes against their twisted version of Islam,” said the source, adding that regular work was not permitted as it would involve mingling between men and women.
Bukit Aman’s Counter Terrorism Division arrested the suspects in Perlis, Kuala Lumpur and Johor on Sept 24.
“We believe they are involved with the Islamic Learning centre in Perlis. Some of them are students while others are ex-students and former teachers,” said Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun.
The arrests, he said, were made following shared intelligence between Bukit Aman and foreign intelligence agencies that a Yemen-based terrorist group had been planning to set up a learning centre in South-East Asia.
“Initial investigations showed that the suspects arrested have connections with a madrasah in Dammaj, Yemen, set up by Sheikh Muqbil Hadi Al Wadi’i, a Salafi Jihadi scholar.
“The madrasah follows the Salafi Jihadi teachings that permit the killing of non-Muslims and even Muslims who don’t follow their ways,” he said in a statement here yesterday.
The teachings, which also labelled the democratic system as “toghut” (un-Islamic), formed the basis of most terrorist groups, including the Islamic State (IS), al-Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Boko Haram and the Abu Sayyaf Group, said Mohamad Fuzi.
“This is not the first time that terror elements have tried to spread Salafi Jihadi teachings in the country. JI leaders Abdullah Sungkar and Abu Bakar Basyir set up schools in Negri Sembilan and Johor in 1985 but we managed to put a stop to it,” he said.
Mohamad Fuzi said the first series of arrests in Perlis involved five Europeans and another from the American continent, aged between 24 and 38.
“We believe all six have connections with IS as well as other terror cells in the region. They are all students of the centre in Perlis,” he said.
One of those arrested was the brother-in-law of a militant from a neighbouring country, who had undergone weapons training, he added.
The seventh suspect arrested was a 33-year-old Middle Eastern man in Kuala Lumpur, who was a teacher at the centre, said Mohamad Fuzi.
“We believe he has been spreading Salafi Jihadi teachings in the Klang Valley under the guise of conducting Islamic classes,” he said.
The last arrest was that of a 32-year-old Malaysian man in Muar, Johor, who was a student at the centre in 2014.
The suspects were arrested under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma). A total of 433 militants have been detained since February 2013.