Malaysia's police chief says four Yemeni terror suspects arrested were targeting Saudi royalty

Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the four Yemenis arrested in counter-terror raids last week were planning to attack Saudi King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud.
Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the four Yemenis arrested in counter-terror raids last week were planning to attack Saudi King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud. PHOTO: AFP

GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The four Yemenis who were nabbed by Malaysian police last week were planning to attack Saudi Arabia's King Salman during his state visit to the country last month, Malaysia's police chief said on Tuesday (March 7).

Malaysia said on Sunday it had detained seven men - four of them Yemenis - in the Klang Valley for suspected links to terror groups.

"We managed to get them in the nick of time … Thank god, they did not even get close," Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said.

The four Yemeni militants were arrested as part of multiple raids conducted by the Malaysian police Counter Terrorism Division from Feb 21 to Feb 26.

The Yemenis, aged between 26 and 33, were detained in Cyberjaya on Feb 26.

Mr Khalid said the four terror suspects were also involved in a syndicate specialising in falsifying travel documents and drug distribution.

 
 

One of the militants worked as a cook at a restaurant specialising in Yemeni dishes, another was a student at a private university, and the last two were jobless.

"Their work and university background were just a ruse to conceal the syndicate forging travel documents," a source told The Star previously, adding that the Yemenis had been in Malaysia for about five years.

According to the source, the authorities received intelligence on the Yemenis barely days before the Saudi royal visit and managed to arrest the suspects in time.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia arrived in Malaysia on Feb 26 for a four-day visit, his first to the country since ascending the throne on Jan 23, 2015.

The visit saw the signing of several memorandums of understanding, including an RM 31 billion (S$9.8 billion) Share Purchase Agreement between Saudi Aramco and Petronas.

In addition to the four suspects, Malaysian police had also detained a 41-year-old Malaysian factory technician, a 28-year-old Indonesian farmer and a 37-year-old East Asian man.

The Malaysian and Indonesian suspects were detained in Kepong in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 21. They had been taking orders from known Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant Mohamad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi.

The East Asian suspect was detained on Feb 23. According to Mr Khalid, he had entered Malaysia in 2011 using a student visa believed to be fake, and enrolled in a public institution of higher learning in the Klang Valley.

Mr Khalid also said he had ties with an East Asian terror group that used Malaysia as a transit point and a hideout.