Malaysian police arrest nine ISIS suspects in diverse occupations

Among the nine arrested was this 24-year-old resort worker in Kota Tinggi, Johor. The diverse occupational background of the suspects, which included a primary school teacher, security guard, owner of a veterinary clinic and a restaurant worker, worr
Among the nine arrested was this 24-year-old resort worker in Kota Tinggi, Johor. The diverse occupational background of the suspects, which included a primary school teacher, security guard, owner of a veterinary clinic and a restaurant worker, worryingly reflects the deadly attraction of ISIS.PHOTO: MALAYSIAN POLICE

Malaysian police arrested nine male ISIS suspects in a recent sting lasting a week, including a man who was a member of a cell that carried out a grenade attack near Kuala Lumpur, police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said yesterday.

The operations to nab these individuals from Wednesday last week to Tuesday this week were carried out in five states, with the suspects coming from diverse occupational backgrounds that worryingly reflect the deadly attraction of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group.

One of those nabbed is a 27-year- old technician with vehicle inspection company Puspakom. He was arrested in Selangor for being a part of the ISIS cell called "Black Crow" on messaging app Telegram.

"He admitted involvement in channelling funds to Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi for the terrorist group's use in Syria," Tan Sri Khalid said in a statement.

"Black Crow" is led by Malaysian terrorist Wanndy in Syria and had claimed ownership of the attack at Movida Bar in suburban Puchong last June. Two men threw a hand-grenade at club patrons that exploded, injuring eight people.

Wanndy is known to be one of the Malaysian terrorists in Syria actively recruiting members and giving instructions to local ISIS members.

The others arrested in the latest swoop included a primary school teacher, a security guard, an owner of a veterinary clinic and a restaurant worker.

Those arrested in the past few years included odd-job workers, university lecturers and engineers, policemen and military personnel, and university students.

The latest suspects were either recruiting for ISIS, making plans to join the group in Syria or its branch in southern Philippines, or channelling funds to the terrorist group.

Experts have said that ISIS' use of online recruitment has increased its reach by widening its membership. The mass use of social media by ISIS members has also made recruitment speedier, encouraging those with extremist thoughts into taking action, analysts say.

Counter-terrorism researcher Syed Huzaifah Othman Alkaff of Nanyang Technological University said in a commentary published last month on its website: "Crowdsourcing of radicalism also accelerates the process of turning radicals into terrorists."

Between 2013 and the end of last year, over 250 ISIS suspects were arrested by Malaysian police, with more than 200 of them Malaysians. Police have charged more than 90, with at least 48 convicted and jailed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2017, with the headline 'Malaysian police arrest nine ISIS suspects in diverse occupations'. Print Edition | Subscribe