16 held in anti-terror raids across six Malaysian states

The suspects were nabbed from six states including Kelantan (far left) and Selangor (left). The latest arrests bring to more than 250 the number of people detained by Malaysian police since late 2013 for suspected ties to ISIS.
The suspects were nabbed from six states including Kelantan (above) and Selangor. The latest arrests bring to more than 250 the number of people detained by Malaysian police since late 2013 for suspected ties to ISIS.PHOTO: MALAYSIAN POLICE
The suspects were nabbed from six states including Kelantan (far left) and Selangor (left). The latest arrests bring to more than 250 the number of people detained by Malaysian police since late 2013 for suspected ties to ISIS.
The suspects were nabbed from six states including Kelantan and Selangor (above). The latest arrests bring to more than 250 the number of people detained by Malaysian police since late 2013 for suspected ties to ISIS.PHOTO: MALAYSIAN POLICE

14 of them are allegedly from a local ISIS cell led by man believed to be KL bombing mastermind

Malaysian police have arrested 16 terror suspects in a two-week operation spanning six states.

Fourteen of them are suspected to be members of a local cell led by Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, a Malaysian belonging to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group.

Wanndy is believed to have masterminded the bombing of a bar in Kuala Lumpur's suburb on June 28.

"All of them are suspected to have sworn their allegiance online," Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement announcing the arrests yesterday.

They allegedly channelled funds to Wanndy, who is in Syria. The 26-year-old has allegedly been cultivating local terrorist cells and encouraging attacks within Malaysia.

Police said they have thwarted many terrorist plots, including a plan to attack multiple sites in Kuala Lumpur during independence day celebrations in August.

The bar bombing, which injured eight people, marked the first ISIS attack on Malaysian soil.

The local ISIS cell led by Wanndy is called "Black Crow". The alleged members - including businessmen, technicians, unemployed men and even an antiques hunter - were arrested in Selangor, Kelantan, Kedah, Perak, Penang and Sabah.

Apart from the 14 suspects, also arrested was a foreigner from North Africa, who the police suspect has links to Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda's former affiliate in Syria.

"While in Malaysia, the suspect is believed to have been involved in a syndicate forging travel documents for the use of the (Al-Nusra Front)," Tan Sri Khalid said.

The 16th suspect, a public university student, was detained at Kuala Lumpur International Airport following his deportation from the Turkish city of Istanbul.

He was arrested by the Turkish authorities, which had received information from the Malaysian police Special Branch, Mr Khalid said.

The latest arrests bring to more than 250 the number of people detained by Malaysian police since late 2013 for suspected ties to ISIS.

Malaysian police have been on high alert and ramping up counter- terrorism measures to counter threats, including plots targeting Prime Minister Najib Razak and several high-ranking officials. Last month, Mr Khalid said three foreigners - a Bangladeshi, a Nepalese businessman and a Moroccan - were deported on suspicion of links to ISIS.

Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia recently agreed to the systematic exchange of biometric information - such as fingerprints - on known militants and terror convicts to fight terrorism.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2016, with the headline '16 held in anti-terror raids across six Malaysian states'. Print Edition | Subscribe