Malaysia rounds up more than 200 terror suspects

Malaysian police arresting a suspect believed to be linked to terrorist group ISIS. Malaysia is on tenterhooks over security fears following a grenade attack on a nightclub in Selangor more than two weeks ago by ISIS sympathisers.
Malaysian police arresting a suspect believed to be linked to terrorist group ISIS. Malaysia is on tenterhooks over security fears following a grenade attack on a nightclub in Selangor more than two weeks ago by ISIS sympathisers. PHOTO: MALAYSIAN POLICE
Counter- Terrorism Division head Ayob Khan has received a death threat from a terrorist.
Counter- Terrorism Division head Ayob Khan has received a death threat from a terrorist.

Police probing warning about possible attack in Malacca

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia continues to be gripped by security jitters following a grenade attack on a nightclub in Selangor more than two weeks ago by ISIS sympathisers.

Police said yesterday it is investigating a warning circulating on social media of a possible attack by the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on tourist areas in Malacca.

Separately, the country's top anti-terror official received a death threat from a Malaysian ISIS militant who was seen in a beheading video last year.

Police in the meantime have revealed that 186 Malaysians and 27 foreigners had been detained to facilitate investigations into suspected links with terror groups.

Malaysian suspects from Kedah and Perak states topped the list with 30 arrests each, followed by Kuala Lumpur (28), Johor (19) and Selangor (17).

  • TERROR ARRESTS - 186

  • Number of Malaysians detained to facilitate investigations into suspected links with terror groups; another 27 suspects were foreigners.

    Kedah - 30

    Perak - 30

    Kuala Lumpur - 28

    Johor - 19

    Selangor - 17

    Negeri Sembilan - 13

    Kelantan - 11

    Pahang - 8

    Terengganu - 8

    Sabah - 6

    Malacca - 6

    Penang - 4

    Perlis - 4

    Sarawak - 2

Others were from Negeri Sem- bilan (13), Kelantan (11), Pahang and Terengganu (eight each), Sabah and Malacca (six each), Penang and Perlis (four each) and Sarawak (two).

In the June 28 attack, two ISIS sympathisers on a motorcycle lobbed a hand grenade into a nightspot in Puchong town, Selangor, at about 2am, injuring eight people. Police have since arrested more than a dozen people, including the duo who carried out the attack.

Central Malacca police chief Shaikh Abdul Adzis Shaikh Abdullah told The New Straits Times newspaper that police are investigating the bilingual message in Chinese and English, which was widely circulated on WhatsApp and Facebook, that named several tourist spots as possible targets.

These included Jonker Street, Stadthuys and several entertainment outlets.

A cafe owner who received the message on WhatsApp filed a report with Malacca police, the paper reported yesterday.

"So far, we have only received one report at the Tengkera (town) police station from a cafe owner who had received a similar message via WhatsApp," the official was quoted by The New Straits Times as saying. "I urge the public not to disseminate the message as the situation is under control," he added.

Malacca's Criminal Investigation Department chief Kamaluddin Kassim said the case is being investigated under a section of the Penal Code for causing fear or alarm to the public.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's top anti- terrorist cop has received a chilling threat from Malaysian ISIS militant Muhamad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi, who is believed to be based in Syria.

Counter-Terrorism Division head Ayob Khan received the death threat through a phone call from the terrorist himself, The Star newspaper reported yesterday.

Muhamad Wanndy, 26, was identified last year as one of the two Malaysians in an ISIS beheading video. The former Malacca resident is believed to have gone to Syria with his wife.

The threat was issued for Senior Assistant Commissioner Ayob's involvement in fighting terrorism and for detaining Muhamad Wanndy's elder brother in May.

Datuk Ayob said ISIS had labelled government institutions as thagut (those which have crossed religious boundaries) and named them as the main target.

"They are regarding us as supportive of thagut and want to attack us first, followed by the non-Muslims in the country," he was quoted as saying by The Star.

Mr Ayob said he was undaunted by the death threat and will continue to foil any terror attempts in the country.

"We have managed to squash nine plots targeting certain institutions and public areas so far," he said. "This would be continued without any fear of any parties linked to terror groups."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2016, with the headline 'Malaysia rounds up more than 200 terror suspects'. Print Edition | Subscribe