Malaysian police said Tuesday they had picked up three men with suspected links to Islamic State (IS), while authorities in neighboring Indonesia announced the arrests of three suspects in connection with an accidental bomb blast last month in Central Java.
The three nabbed in separate raids in Kuala Lumpur and Pahang states between Jan. 27 and Jan. 29 were an unemployed man who allegedly planned a bomb attack and two security officers, including an Indonesian who worked for Malaysia Airlines, the nation’s police chief said.
“Two of them are Malaysian citizens and another individual is an Indonesian with a Malaysian permanent resident status,” Police Inspector-General Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement that did not name the suspects.
The arrests followed last week’s announcement by Khalid that police had smashed a new cell which planned to use the eastern state of Sabah as a transit point for militants passing through on their way to joining an IS-linked group in the southern Philippines.
Four people – a Malaysian, two Bangladeshis and a Filipino – were arrested in the dismantling of the cell, but Khalid’s statement on Tuesday did not say whether they were linked to the three new arrests.
Khalid described the first of the newest suspects in custody as a 38-year-old unemployed IS supporter.
“Upon arrest, the suspect admitted being a supporter of Daesh and confessed to plans to launch a bomb attack on the Mufti Islamic Department of Negeri Sembilan for failing to follow Islamic law,” Khalid said, using a different term for IS.
The man was arrested Sunday in Kuala Lumpur and admitted to posting threats to kill and launch a bomb attack through his Facebook page, according to Khalid.
The other two suspects were arrested in separate operations in the capital of Pahang, Kuantan, on Friday.
One of them was a 37-year-old Indonesian who worked for Malaysia’s flag carrier, but the police chief did not say if the suspect had planned any attack involving the airline.
“The man who has links with other IS Malaysian members in Syria was planning to take his wife there to join IS,” Khalid said.
An investigation revealed that the Indonesian had been to Turkey in 2013, Khalid said, but without noting whether the suspect had crossed over to Syria at the time.
Officers, Khalid said, seized an airsoft pellet gun and three copies of “Tarbiyah Jihadiyah,” a book by the late Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, considered a father of the global Islamic extremist movement.
Members of the police special forces also arrested a 32-year-old security guard for a private firm at an undisclosed location in Kuantan, Pahang. Khalid said he was planning to join IS in Syria.
“The police also seized a Trusty PM4 shotgun,” he said.
The three have been remanded under the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act 2012.
Including the latest arrests, Malaysian authorities have arrested 271 IS suspects since 2013, of whom 66 have since been freed, according to updated government figures.
In Indonesia, national counterterrorist police squad Densus 88 arrested the three men in Central Java province over the last two days for their alleged involvement in bomb making and concealing information about an explosion, a police official announced Tuesday.
Indonesian police arrested a 31-year-old man, identified by the initial J, in Gemolong, a town in Sragen district on Tuesday morning. At almost the same time, another man, identified as SG, 38, was arrested at his home in Gondangrejo, Karanganyar district.
On Monday evening, officers arrested a 36-year-old man identified as S, in Grobogan district, who allegedly possessed a bomb that exploded in his rented house on Dec. 11, 2016.
In Jakarta, National Police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said all three were involved in the December explosion.
“Suspected of making the bomb that exploded in the rented house,” detik.com quoted Boy as saying in referring to S. He added that the other men helped him cover up the incident from neighbors and police.
No one was injured in the explosion.
Hata Wahari in Kuala Lumpur and Kusumasari Ayuningtyas in Solo, Indonesia, contributed to this report.