PUTRAJAYA - Malaysian militants arrested earlier this year were planning to attack several pubs, discotheques and even the Carlsberg brewery in Shah Alam.
"The suspects admitted that they wanted to overthrow what they perceived to be an un-Islamic government in Putrajaya," Federal Special Branch principal assistant director Datuk Ayob Khan Pitchay Mydin Ayob told The Malaysian Insider on Friday.
He said the 19 extremists, arrested between January and June, were supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State (IS), the news portal reported.
"Besides planning attacks on pubs and discotheques, the suspects were also targeting the Carlsberg brewery,'' said Ayob.
"One of their main objectives was to target Putrajaya," he said, adding that the suspects had raised "tens of thousands of ringgit from their fundraising activities".
Between 20 and 30 Malaysians have gone to Syria to fight with ISIS, although the figure could be higher, he told The Malaysian Insider.
Malaysian factory worker, Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki, died as a suicide bomber in May, and Ayob revealed that another Malaysian is believed to have died as well.
"I cannot reveal the details yet as we are trying to confirm the identity of a second Malaysian who is believed to have perished in the ongoing conflict in the Middle East."
The report also quoted Ayob as saying the activities of the Malaysian militants arrested so far were merely in the planning stage.
"We are constantly monitoring the activities of suspected militants and their accomplices," he said, declining to elaborate.
Police in June arrested three men in Sandakan, Sabah. One of them had received training by the Abu Sayyaf group in the southern Philippines, while another was a Royal Malaysian Navy personnel.
The three suspects had links with 11 people who had been arrested in April for involvement in militant activities.
Their main purpose was to send fighters to Syria after they had been given training, police revealed.
The conflict in the Middle East is attracting a growing number of militants from South-east Asia to fight in Iraq and Syria, raising the risk that they will return to carry out attacks in their home countries, according to Washington Post, quoting a New York-based security consultancy.
As many as 200 Indonesians and at least 30 Malaysians have travelled to Syria to fight with the ISIS and other rebel groups via third-party countries such as Egypt and Turkey, the newspaper said, citing a report by Soufan Group, which provides strategic analysis to governments.
Participation by South-east Asian nationals in the conflicts poses a risk for those countries because just as the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group, which carried out the deadly 2002 Bali bombings, sent Indonesians, Malaysians and Singaporeans to Afghanistan for military training, these militants may return to use their training to mount terrorist campaigns, the report said.
"South-east Asian extremists will continue to take advantage of the perceived success and strength of the Islamic State to issue more calls for the creation of a caliphate in South-east Asia," it said.