Malaysia Arrests 7 Allegedly Linked to Islamic State

BenarNews Staff
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160124-MY-terror-620 One of seven suspects allegedly linked to the Islamic State arrested since Friday is taken into custody by Malaysian police.
Courtesy Royal Malaysia Police

One day before counterterror officials from 19 states meet in Kuala Lumpur to devise a strategy to counter the Islamic State (IS), Royal Malaysia Police said they arrested seven militants who were plotting attacks.

Police did not release the names of the suspects but said they were linked Bahrun Naim, the man identified as the mastermind behind the attack that left four civilians and four attackers dead in the Jan. 14 attack in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Police Inspector General Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the suspects, between the ages of 26 and 50, apparently planned attacks throughout the country, according to the state-run news agency Bernama. Suspects were arrested Kedah, Johor, Pahang, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor beginning Friday.

Khalid said police seized 30 rounds of ammunition, jihad books and videos and an IS flag.

One of those arrested had been in communication with Indonesian extremist Bahrun Naim, Khalid said in the statement. Jakarta police chief Tito Karnavian named Naim as the force behind the attack.

One day later, Malaysian police arrested a man they said confessed to planning an IS-ordered suicide attack. The 28-year-old Malaysian was arrested at a train station in Kuala Lumpur on Jan. 15, Khalid said in a statement.

P. Sundramoorthy, a criminologist and associate professor at the University of Science Malaysia in Penang, said because the country is smaller, police intelligence has the upper hand in detecting the movement of suspected IS militants and supporters compared to neighbors Indonesia and Thailand.

“It does not mean that the police have detected every single IS supporter, but so far they are doing a good job and hope they will maintain high level of efficiency in dealing with the threats,” Sundramoorthy said. He said the focus should be on taking down terror groups rather than politicizing the effort.

Details of latest arrests

Two of the seven Malaysian suspects were arrested in Johor, including an assistant manager in the housekeeping division of a hotel in Nusajaya who is from Sabah. Khalid identified one suspect, a 31-year-old, as the chief of the cell, and the other as a 33-year-old factory supervisor, according to Bernama.

In Kedah, police arrested a 50-year-old cendol seller and his 26-year-old assistant. The older suspect allegedly raised funds for Malaysians wishing to join IS in Syria, including the assistant.

Khalid said three arrested in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Pahang, were between the ages of 30 and 33.

“All three were involved in planning to launch terrorist attacks in Malaysia,” Khalid said, according to Bernama.

‘Deradicalization and Countering Violent Extremism’

The two-day conference starting Monday in Kuala Lumpur will be held under tight security following the Jakarta attack and Malaysia arrests over the last couple of weeks. The Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs said the main objective is to increase cooperation among security agencies throughout the world.

Expected attendees include Association of Southeast Asian Nations ministers in charge of fighting extremist militant threats and strategic partners the United States, France, Australia, Britain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Japan, China and Italy.

Two main sessions, one to devise a joint ministerial statement on deradicalization, and one where the ministers will explain the deradicalization programs of their respective countries are planned.

S. Adie Zul contributed to this report.


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