Former ISIS commander on most wanted list nabbed while on transit stop in Malaysia: Reports

A 45-year-old foreign militant was detained while on a transit stop in Malaysia. Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar (pictured) said the suspect has been with a Syrian militant group since May 2012. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK&nbsp
A 45-year-old foreign militant was detained while on a transit stop in Malaysia. Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar (pictured) said the suspect has been with a Syrian militant group since May 2012. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK 

A FORMER commander of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was detained by Malaysia counter-terrorism police while on transit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian media reports said on Saturday, citing the country's police chief and intelligence sources.

The 45-year-old suspect was arrested by Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division at a four-star hotel in Bukit Bintang at about 4.40pm on Jan 31, The Star reported. Police also seized a large amount of money from the suspect along with his fake passport, the Malaysian Insider said.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement on Saturday the suspect has been with a militant group based in Iraq and Syria since May 2012, the Star said. "We believe he had been to the Middle East, Northern Africa and a Southeast Asian country before entering Malaysia last month," Khalid was quoted as saying in the statement.

He added that the suspect was on the most wanted list of a Middle Eastern country. The man was detained under Malaysia's Immigration Act for using a forged passport and deported to his home country on Friday, Khalid said.

While he did not name the suspect nor disclose which country he is from and which militant group he belongs to, the Malaysian Insider said it is ISIS, citing intelligence sources.

Aabout 59 Malaysians are known to have joined ISIS. Since last year, more than 65 militants have been arrested by Malaysian police either on their way to Syria and Iraq or back, the Malaysian Insider said.

Last month, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said more than 300 Chinese nationals had used Malaysia as a transit point on their way to join ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

seokhwai@sph.com.sg