Malaysia Arrests 15 Alleged IS Supporters

Hata Wahari
Kuala Lumpur
160324-MY-suspect-1000.jpg Malaysian police lead one of 15 suspects with alleged links to Islamic State who were arrested in special operations carried out in seven states since Tuesday.
Courtesy of Royal Malaysia Police

Fifteen people suspected of ties to the Islamic State extremist group and plotting a terror attack in Malaysia were arrested in nationwide raids conducted over three days, police said Thursday.

Four women are among the suspects who range in age from 22 to 49 years old, and they include a police officer and an airplane mechanic, Malaysian Police Inspector-General Khalid Abu Bakar told BenarNews.

The 15 were involved in terror-related activities including trying to acquire chemicals for making bombs, raising funds that were to be sent to an unnamed militant group in the southern Philippines, and trying to help two foreign militants enter another Southeast Asian country via Malaysia, Khalid said.

“Those arrested are government employees, private workers, a preacher, housewives and students,” Khalid told Benar.

The 15 were picked up in raids mounted in seven states since Tuesday night by Bukit Aman, the Royal Malaysia Police’s counter-terrorist special branch, Khalid said. Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Kedah and Penang were among the states where the raids took place.

The special police operations began amid a heightened state of alert in Malaysia and on the day that IS claimed responsibility for coordinated terrorist attacks on Tuesday, which killed at least 30 people and injured at least 270 others in Brussels, Belgium.

The latest arrests in Malaysia brings to 177 the total number of people taken into custody on suspicion of links to IS.

On Wanndy’s instructions

Later on Thursday, Malaysia’s police chief issued a statement alleging that the suspects were “raising funds among IS supporters in Malaysia to be passed to Malaysians who have joined the group in Syria.”

“They were also involved in hacking a number of websites owned by the government and also establishing working relationships with other terrorist groups in Southeast Asia,” Khalid’s statement went on to say.

The suspects were receiving instructions from Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, a young Malaysian suspected of having joined IS in Syria, Khalid said.

In February 2015, Wanndy and fellow Malaysian Mohd Faris Anuar made headlines back home when they reportedly took part in the videotaped beheading of a Syrian prisoner, which was posted online.

In November, Faris was killed while allegedly fighting along IS forces in Anbar province, Iraq.

Meanwhile, authorities in Malaysia accuse Wanndy of actively recruiting Malaysians via social media to join IS in the Middle East .

According to Khalid’s statement, the 15 suspects apprehended this week were also involved in recruiting and sending Malaysians to Syria. The four female suspects were planning to sneak out of the country to join IS, Khalid said.

All of the suspects were arrested for terrorism-related offenses and will be investigated under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, he said.

‘Not political spin’

Malaysia has been on a heightened state of alert since IS claimed it carried out a terror attack in Jakarta that killed eight people, including four suspects, on Jan. 14 – the first strike carried out by the extremist group in Southeast Asia.

In a written reply to questions from lawmakers, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told parliament on Thursday that Malaysians should take the threat of terrorism seriously. Earlier in the month, Zahid announced that IS last year had plotted to kidnap Prime Minister Najib Razak and other top officials.

As of March 14, 162 people had been arrested in the country up until then over suspected links to IS, Zahid wrote on Thursday.

“I have several times made a statement about the dangers of terrorism and national security. It is not political spin but it is the result of intelligence,” Zahid said in his reply.

Last month, the home minister said that more than 130 Malaysians might have travelled to Iraq or Syria to join IS.

But on March 5, the state-run Bernama news agency quoted Bukit Aman Director Mohamad Fuzi Harun as saying that a total of 47 Malaysians were currently in either of those two countries and that 18 others had been killed while fighting for IS.


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