KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian authorities nabbed 290 foreigners in the second large-scale sweep for terror suspects on Wednesday night (Aug 9), as they stepped up security ahead of the SEA Games next week.
The foreigners from countries including Syria and Iraq are currently undergoing a screening process at Sepang district police headquarters. So far, none has terrorism links, police told reporters on Thursday.
The raids were targeted at Cyberjaya township, a 25-min drive from Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
An earlier operation was conducted on Sunday in Kuala Lumpur’s city centre where 409 foreigners were rounded up.
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Authorities believed that foreign terrorist fighters deported from Turkey in recent months could be hiding in Malaysia. Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said last week that authorities were searching for at least 16 militants deported from Turkey.
The 16 suspects were detained by Turkey allegedly just before they crossed the border to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group. Kuala Lumpur has protested against Turkey’s procedure of allowing suspected militants to choose their destination without informing the receiving country.
Malaysia has arrested nearly 300 terror suspects since 2013, largely Malaysians. More than 90 have been charged, with at least 48 convicted and jailed.
With the SEA Games starting on Aug 19, the police have deployed about 7000 personnel in the vicinity of the games village and venues till Aug 31.
KL police chief Datuk Amar Singh said athletes would be escorted by police to and from the competition venues.
“We will also deploy members of the Special Action Unit and Komander 69 (VAT 69) at every location, including at hotels, to curb violence and extremist elements,” he said.
A source said the public will also be barred from parking their vehicles by the roadside leading up to the venues.
“We are also taking measures to avoid the possibilities of any untoward incidents that could jeopardise public order. We wouldn’t know what’s in their car unless a radioactive detecting device is used,” the source said.
Police will use a total of 95 Personal Radiation Devices, 8 radiation backpacks and 8 hand-held identifiers.