Officials detain Malaysian terrorism suspect deported from Australia

Counter Terrorism Division officers detained the suspect (centre) at KL airport on his arrival in Malaysia. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK 
Counter Terrorism Division officers detained the suspect (centre) at KL airport on his arrival in Malaysia. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK 

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia has detained a former factory worker on suspicion of running an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror cell in Australia for the last three months.

The 29-year-old man was arrested by the Australian Immigration on Dec 28 after his "underground" activities came to light. He was deported to Malaysia on Wednesday, where he was detained by the officers of the counter terror division at the airport.

The man, who hails from Selangor, had been running the cell since Sept 29, and even worked in Australia to mask his activities which aroused suspicion, officials said.

He was also found to have violated his social visitor pass in Australia.

The terror cell included a Malaysian married couple, who were also deported and are under arrest in Malaysia.

"The authorities believe that the man was responsible for recruiting and arranging for Malaysian militants to head to Turkey and eventually Syria via Australia," a source said.

"They were using Australia as a transit point. So far, at least five Malaysian fighters were believed to have used the designated route.

Apart from recruiting Malaysians, the cell also advised fellow fighters on routes to take to evade detection and connected them with contacts in Syria.

"The cell also provided financial assistance for Syria-bound fighters," the source said.

Despite the arrest, the authorities were not ruling out the possibility that there were other Malaysian militants in Australia.

The arrests bring the number of people detained by the terrorism officials to 54 since February last year.

Those arrested include civil servants, navy and air force personnel and an officer attached with the energy, green technology and water ministry.

A former national service trainer, along with some private and public university students, was among the latest arrests made.