Trio charged over plans for terror attacks in Johor

Suspects allegedly targeted temple and several nightclubs; no pleas taken

BATU PAHAT • Three men have been charged in a Malaysian court over alleged involvement in plotting terror attacks on a temple and several nightclubs in Johor earlier this year.

The case comes after police said on Wednesday they had arrested three local supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group who had allegedly been planning several attacks in Kuala Lumpur, ahead of its independence day celebrations on the same day.

Malaysia has been on high alert since last year, when police uncovered threats against the country's top leadership, including Prime Minister Najib Razak.

In the latest case reported by The Star yesterday, two of the accused, Md Saifuddin Muji, 28, and Jasanizam Rosni, 33, were said to have plotted the acts of terror between June 26 and July 2.

If found guilty, they could be jailed for up to seven years, fined or both.

In the same magistrate's court, Mohd Sanusi Satar, 31, was charged with not giving information about the plot to the police.

He was accused of committing the offence between July 1 and Aug 8, a crime that also carries a jail term of seven years or a fine or both if he is convicted.

No pleas were recorded from all three suspects and the next mention of the cases was set for Sept 28.

Md Saifuddin was separately charged with two other offences: one of possessing a black flag with Arabic script related to ISIS and another of possessing a hand grenade. He pleaded guilty to possessing the grenade - which carries a maximum jail sentence of 14 years and at least six strokes of the cane - but did not enter a plea on having the flag.

Malaysia's battle against terror has resulted in hundreds of arrests since late 2013, including that of the three men who the police said yesterday were planning to launch attacks on the eve of the country's National Day celebrations.

The trio, detained in a police operation between Aug 27 and 29, had allegedly received instructions from Malaysian ISIS fighter Muhammad Wanndy Muhammad Jedi to attack an entertainment centre, a Hindu temple and a police station on Tuesday.

Wanndy is a Malaysian known to be fighting with ISIS in Syria and is seen as the man responsible for ordering a grenade attack in June on a bar on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, in the militant group's first successful assault in Malaysia.

Police arrested nine people believed to have ISIS links after the attack. Since 2013, the police department's counter-terrorism unit has rounded up at least 240 people for their involvement with ISIS.

The authorities said most of the group's local cell members have limited capability to make their own improvised explosive devices, and the threat is contained.

The downside is that ISIS recruits new members easily over social media and there are various cells pledging allegiance to different terrorists in Syria, making it hard to keep track of the multiple cells operating in Malaysia.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2016, with the headline 'Trio charged over plans for terror attacks in Johor'. Print Edition | Subscribe