Malaysia

Malaysia nightclub attackers 'wanted to strike a larger pub'

Malaysian police officers of the forensic department investigate the scene of a bomb explosion in Puchong, Selangor.
Malaysian police officers of the forensic department investigate the scene of a bomb explosion in Puchong, Selangor.PHOTO: EPA

KUALA LUMPUR • Two men who hurled a grenade at a nightspot in Selangor last week, the first attack by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group in Malaysia, had actually wanted to attack a bigger pub with more people, the New Straits Times newspaper reported yesterday.

But the original target was closed for the evening, police sources told the newspaper. Movida was attacked at about 2.15am last Tuesday. A grenade was lobbed at patrons, injuring eight Malaysians.

"Investigators were told that Movida was only the second option, or rather, a target of opportunity, as another pub, a larger one that usually has a larger number of patrons, was closed," an unnamed source said. "They then opted for Movida, which had yet to conclude business for the day and still had a large number of people inside."

Sources said initial investigations found that the two attackers and two other men still at large had scouted for possible targets days ahead of the blast, the New Straits Times reported.

Police arrested 15 suspected ISIS supporters in the days after the attack, including the two men believed to be on the motorcycle who carried out the attack.

 
 
 

The attack at the nightspot first raised scepticism, then concern, as Movida is located in Puchong town in Selangor, some 25km from clubs and pubs in downtown Kuala Lumpur that are popular with foreigners.

A concern is whether ISIS sympathisers would similarly attack other nightspots away from the popular tourist hangouts.

Police have in recent months foiled several planned attacks in Malaysia by ISIS-linked individuals.

The extremists target entertainment centres for being "un-Islamic" and also want to attack "our government leaders, top police officials and judges", the country's police chief Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters on Monday.

One of the attackers was a 28-year-old identified as a Muslim convert from Sabah who worked at a factory in Port Klang, while his partner from Selangor was unemployed, the New Straits Times said.

Police said the attackers were "commanded" by Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, a Malaysian based in Syria.

Police believe that the attackers got to know Muhammad Wanndy through social media last year after they asked around online about the war in Syria, the newspaper said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2016, with the headline 'Nightspot attackers 'wanted to strike a larger pub''. Print Edition | Subscribe