Malaysian police nab 14 ISIS suspects in 4-day operation

Eight of the suspects (above, and right) are linked to channelling funds to ISIS and the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the southern Philippines.
Eight of the suspects (above) are linked to channelling funds to ISIS and the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the southern Philippines.PHOTOS: MALAYSIAN POLICE SPECIAL BRANCH COUNTER TERRORISM DIVISION
Eight of the suspects (above, and right) are linked to channelling funds to ISIS and the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the southern Philippines.
Eight of the suspects (above) are linked to channelling funds to ISIS and the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the southern Philippines.PHOTOS: MALAYSIAN POLICE SPECIAL BRANCH COUNTER TERRORISM DIVISION

They were arrested in KL and five states, with eight linked to raising funds and actively recruiting for terrorist group

Malaysia arrested 14 suspected Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants during a four-day operation spanning five states, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Noor Rashid Ibrahim said yesterday.

Eight of the suspects have been linked to channelling funds to ISIS and the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the southern Philippines.

"Eight of them are tied to Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi," said Datuk Noor Rashid in a statement.

Muhammad Wanndy is a Malaysian militant in Syria who has been actively recruiting ISIS members. He has also threatened to kill Prime Minister Najib Razak and top police officials. One of those arrested is a relative of Muhammad Wanndy who had used a bank account to collect funds for ISIS.

A technician employed at an aircraft maintenance firm and a karaoke lounge hostess planning to join ISIS in Syria were among those arrested during the latest operation.

All but one of the suspects are men, and are aged between 22 and 49. The arrests were made in Selangor, Johor, Perak, Kedah, Perlis, and the capital Kuala Lumpur.

According to the police, one of the suspects used his home to host meetings that promoted ISIS to recruits.

In November last year, Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said ISIS had planned to kidnap Malaysian leaders. Among those targeted were Datuk Seri Najib, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin himself.

The latest operation, which lasted from May 17 to last Friday, was a follow-up to an earlier one in March, when 15 suspects were arrested.

On Thursday last week, the South China Morning Post reported that the March arrests included an aircraft technician who worked for a company servicing aircraft used by Malaysia's corporate and political leaders.

The technician was reported to have been a former flight engineer with the Royal Malaysian Air Force.

The previous arrests made in March also found chemical ingredients that could be made into homemade bombs. The suspects were allegedly planning to launch attacks in Malaysia. In January, a suspected militant who was arrested was allegedly planning to stage a suicide attack in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia has arrested at least 30 people this year for their alleged involvement with ISIS, and raised its security alert following the bombings in the Indonesian capital Jakarta in January.

Over the past two years, police have arrested more than 170 suspected ISIS militants, ranging from civil servants and professionals to low-skilled labourers.

A technician employed at an aircraft maintenance firm and a karaoke lounge hostess planning to join ISIS in Syria were among those arrested during the latest operation. All but one of the suspects are men, and are aged between 22 and 49. The arrests were made in Johor Selangor, Perak, Kedah, Perlis and the capital Kuala Lumpur.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 22, 2016, with the headline 'Malaysian police nab 14 ISIS suspects in 4-day operation'. Print Edition | Subscribe