Lebanon Hands Over Two Suspected Al-Qaeda Operatives to Malaysia

BenarNews Staff
2015.11.02
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151102-MY-suspects-620 In this undated photo, Malaysian policemen escort two of eight men arrested in Selangor, Perak and Johor on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities.
Courtesy of Royal Malaysia Police

Two Malaysian men arrested on terrorism charges in Lebanon three years ago have been brought home and taken into custody, Malaysian police announced Monday.

“Two suspects aged 24 and 33, suspected as members of the Tandzim Al Qaeda Malaysia, were detained in Lebanon on 18 October 2012 because they tried to enter Syria to join a terrorist group,” Malaysian Police Inspector-General Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement.

“They were escorted home by special counterterrorism forces on October 30 and arrested upon arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Selangor,” he said.

The 24-year-old is a native of Selangor and former civil servant, while the older man is an electrician from Kuala Lumpur, the statement said.

Four other people arrested in Selangor and Johor on Friday were members of the same group who were “still in hiding after the operation to arrest senior leaders of that group in February 2013,” according to the police statement.

It further announced the arrests, also on Friday, of two 28-year-old civil servants accused of spreading Islamic State (IS) propaganda among their co-workers.

All eight were detained under Act 574 of the Malaysian Penal Code and will be investigated under the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act 2012, the statement said.

First arrested in Beirut

On Oct. 28, 2012, Malaysian media reported that Lebanese authorities had arrested two Malaysians on suspicion that they were suicide bombers linked to al-Qaeda.

The two were nabbed at Beirut International Airport 10 days earlier, according to reports.

Investigations revealed that they were recruited into al-Qaeda in Malaysia in 2007, according to a local Lebanese newspaper, the Al-Joumhouria.

It said the two Malaysians had tried to enter Syria via Turkey on a jihadist mission to carry out suicide attacks.

When the two Malaysians failed to enter Syria, they decided to head to Lebanon to carry out terrorist attacks but their activities caught the eye of army intelligence, the paper said.

At the time, then-Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein identified the men as Rafik Mohammed Aaref and Mohammed Razin Shaaban. He said they had no direct link with militant groups in Southeast Asia such as Jemaah Islamiyah and Darul Islam.

The two suspects were brought to a Military Court in Beirut on Oct. 25, 2012, where the charges were read to them, then Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said.

"The Malaysian Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon is taking action to meet the two Malaysian nationals and provide consular advice. The families of the two suspects have also been informed of their arrest,” he said in a statement at that time.

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