KUALA LUMPUR (The Star/Asia News Network, REUTERS) - Malaysia police said on Saturday (Aug 13) they have detained nine suspected Islamic State (ISIS) militants, including two suspects linked to the Puchong nightclub bombing, in a four-state swoop.
The Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division arrested the suspects in Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Sabah and Kelantan between July 20 and Aug 9, said Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar in a press release.
Three of the suspects - aged between 17 and 56 - are foreigners, the statement said.
Khalid added that the suspects linked to the Movida bombing in Puchong, Jasanizam Rosni and Md Saifuddin Muji, were nabbed in a hilly area in Kuala Krai, Kelantan on Tuesday.
"These two were on the wanted list for conspiring in the Movida bombing. They were detained with the help of the General Operations Force's Tiger Platoon Batallion 8," he said.
The two men had been hiding in Kuala Krai since July, Khalid added.
"They were also waiting for further orders from Muhammad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi to launch an attack on an entertainment outlet in Johor Baru," said Khalid.
A known Malaysian ISIS fighter in Syria, Muhammad Wanndy had said in a posting on his Facebook page that the group had carried out the June 28 attack on a bar in the Puchong neighborhood that wounded eight people.
If the claim was genuine it would have been the first attack by ISIS on Malaysian soil.
He added that a M67 grenade was seized, saying that the two had planned to use it in the attack. "We also seized an M67 grenade, which they planned to use in the attack," he said.
Two other suspects detained in Batu Pahat and Kuala Krai were detained for harbouring the duo," said Khalid.
Police had also tracked down a suspected ISIS member, whose cell had received orders from Wanndy, and had threatened attacks on the police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur and on government buildings in the country’s administrative capital of Putrajaya, Khalid said.
Others arrested included a 17-year-old in the eastern state of Sabah, on the island of Borneo, who was believed to have been planning a ‘lone wolf’ attack on non-Muslims in Sadakan after communicating with another Malaysian ISIS member in Syria.
Meanwhile, three foreigners, who were ex-military, were arrested in Kuala Lumpur for allegedly using the country as a transit point to secure fake travel documents and plan an attack on a Middle East nation, Khalid said.
On the last suspect arrested, Khalid said the 26-year-old man nabbed in Johor was involved in a plan to attack Bukit Aman and government complexes in Putrajaya.
"We believe he was receiving orders from Muhammad Wanndy," he said.
Authorities in Malaysia have been on high alert since IS-linked militants carried out an armed attack in the capital of neighbouring Indonesia in January. Police said last week 230 people, including 200 Malaysians, have been arrested since 2013 for involvement in militant activities.
In June, ISIS released a video of its fighters from Southeast Asia calling on its supporters to unify under one umbrella group and launch attacks in the region.