Malaysia Charges Suspected SEA Games Terror-Plot Mastermind, 3 Others

Ray Sherman
Kuala Lumpur
170925-malaysia-620.jpg Members of Malaysia's counter-terrorism tactical unit take part in the 60th National Day celebrations at Independence Square in Kuala Lumpur, Aug. 31, 2017.

A Malaysian court Monday charged an alleged mastermind and three fellow suspected members of the Philippine-based Abu Sayyaf (ASG) militant group in connection with a foiled terror plot against the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur last month.

Hajar Abdul Mubin, 25, (alias Abu Asrie), the alleged mastermind who has been identified by the Philippine military as the right-hand man of a senior leader of ASG, was charged on suspicion of being a member of a terrorist group, according to court documents. Under Malaysia’s Penal Code, membership with a terrorist group carries life imprisonment and a fine upon conviction.

The court also charged three other ASG suspects – Malaysians Ahmad Omar, 52, and Jaffar Ahmad, 26, and 25-year-old Filipino Abdul Syamir Dabili – after they intentionally omitted information about their terrorist activities, documents show. The charge is punishable with seven years in prison or a fine, or both.

The four men worked in the construction sector and were among 19 terror suspects arrested by Malaysian police between early July and Aug. 31.

Hajar, who was involved in kidnappings and clashes with soldiers in the southern Philippines, had slipped into Malaysia through Sandakan in the state of Sabah, before making his way to Kuala Lumpur in December 2015, Malaysian Police Chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun said in a statement early this month.

He also had reportedly met with several suspected Malaysian Islamic State (IS) militants, including Mahmud Ahmad, who allegedly served as a conduit for IS funds coming from the Middle East. Mahmud was actively involved in the siege of the southern Philippine city of Marawi together with ASG leader Isnilon Hapilon, the acknowledged regional IS leader.

In Monday’s proceedings, all four suspects nodded when asked if they understood the charges, after these were read out in Malay at the Kajang’s Sessions Court in the state of Selangor. They were not represented by lawyers.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Siti Noorhafizan Zakaria did not offer bail since the suspects were arrested under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (SOSMA) 2012.

Police arrested eight of the 19 suspects between July and August when they raided the hideouts of terror suspects in the states of Selangor, Johor, Kelantan and in the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Police said the raids were launched to thwart a terror plot during the closing ceremony of the Southeast Asian games, and the country's Independence Day on Aug. 31, in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. Police did not provide details on the terror plot and did not mention if any weapons or explosives were recovered during the series of raids.

“Intelligence shows the suspect planned to launch attacks during the SEA Games closing ceremony in National Stadium (Bukit Jalil) and during the National Day celebration,” Fuzi said in a statement earlier this month, describing Hajar as the plot’s mastermind.

Eleven nations and thousands of athletes participated in the 29th edition of the SEA Games, from Aug. 19 to 30.

ASG is notorious for abducting civilians from different countries and executing foreign hostages when ransoms are not met. Some of the group’s fighters are linked with IS and have also been involved in occupying Marawi since May 23.

Since the beginning of the year, 41 foreigners classified as “foreign terrorist fighters” have been captured in Malaysia, Fuzi told reporters on Thursday.

During the past four years, Malaysian authorities have arrested 339 people suspected of having links to terrorism organizations, including IS. Sixty-six of those suspects have been freed, according to government figures compiled by BenarNews.


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