Busted: ISIS cell smuggling arms into Malaysia

Weapons being stored for at least a year to prepare for attacks in country and abroad

Malaysian police have busted an ISIS terrorist cell that smuggled weapons into Malaysia with the surrender of a cow farmer at the Thai border last week.

National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement yesterday that Muhammad Muzaffa Arieff Junaidi surrendered himself last Tuesday at Rantau Panjang, a town in northern Kelantan.

The 27-year-old farmer had fled to Thailand two months ago to avoid an ongoing police operation against his cell which is linked to terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

"The suspect was ordered to infiltrate into South Thailand via the Golok river on March 22 with an M4 carbine and a pistol to hide the weapons and avoid charges of possession of firearms," said Inspector General of Police Khalid.

Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox

Police counter-terrorism chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay told The Sunday Times that along with two arrests from the March crackdown, the ISIS arms smuggling ring had been dismantled.

Datuk Ayob said that after the police put Muzaffa on the wanted list and called for the public to step forward with information on him, the suspect decided to give himself up after hiding for two months.

The cell had reportedly been smuggling weapons into Malaysia from Thailand and building up a stockpile for at least a year to prepare for attacks in the country and abroad. The March arrests were believed to be the first time the Malaysian authorities uncovered weapon-smuggling by militants linked to ISIS.

Security forces believe the cell had at least five semi-automatic pistols, a pump gun and an M4 carbine assault rifle.

Mr Khalid said another five ISIS operatives were arrested last week. One was a retired military man who channelled about RM20,000 (S$6,475) to ISIS in Syria, where his son has joined the terror group.

The arrests come on the back of several terror attacks in neighbouring countries last week, which saw militants loyal to ISIS taking over Marawi city in the Philippines and two suicide bombers killing three policemen in Jakarta.

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also in charge of internal security as Home Minister, said Malaysia should be on alert over these attacks. He claimed that the attacks were linked to the death of Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi - a Malaysian militant said to be a coordinator for ISIS activities in the region - in Syria last March.

SEE INSIGHT

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 28, 2017, with the headline 'Busted: ISIS cell smuggling arms into Malaysia'. Print Edition | Subscribe