15 nabbed in latest Malaysian anti-terror swoops

Malaysia's Special Branch's Counter Terrorism Division arresting a 51-year-old homemaker for her alleged plans to attack non-Muslims and non-Muslim houses of worship by using her car.
Malaysia's Special Branch's Counter Terrorism Division arresting a 51-year-old homemaker for her alleged plans to attack non-Muslims and non-Muslim houses of worship by using her car.PHOTO: COUNTER TERRORISM DIVISION, SPECIAL BRANCH, MALAYSIA
 Malaysia’s Special Branch’s Counter Terrorism Division taking a 17-year-old schoolboy into custody. The teenager made six molotov cocktails to be used in attacks at non-Muslim houses of worship.
Malaysia’s Special Branch’s Counter Terrorism Division taking a 17-year-old schoolboy into custody. The teenager made six molotov cocktails to be used in attacks at non-Muslim houses of worship.PHOTO: COUNTER TERRORISM DIVISION, SPECIAL BRANCH, MALAYSIA
 A team of Counter Terrorism officers arresting one of the suspects nabbed in Sabah.
A team of Counter Terrorism officers arresting one of the suspects nabbed in Sabah. PHOTO: COUNTER TERRORISM DIVISION, SPECIAL BRANCH, MALAYSIA
A team of Counter Terrorism officers arresting one of the suspects nabbed in Sabah.
A team of Counter Terrorism officers arresting one of the suspects nabbed in Sabah. PHOTO: COUNTER TERRORISM DIVISION, SPECIAL BRANCH, MALAYSIA
A team of Counter Terrorism officers arresting one of the suspects nabbed in Sabah.
A team of Counter Terrorism officers arresting one of the suspects nabbed in Sabah. PHOTO: COUNTER TERRORISM DIVISION, SPECIAL BRANCH, MALAYSIA
A team of Counter Terrorism officers arresting one of the suspects nabbed in Sabah.
A team of Counter Terrorism officers arresting one of the suspects nabbed in Sabah. PHOTO: COUNTER TERRORISM DIVISION, SPECIAL BRANCH, MALAYSIA
The woman, who began joining ISIS-affiliated chat groups in 2014, planned to head to Syria if her attack was successful.
The woman, who began joining ISIS-affiliated chat groups in 2014, planned to head to Syria if her attack was successful. PHOTO: COUNTER TERRORISM DIVISION, SPECIAL BRANCH, MALAYSIA

KUALA LUMPUR • A woman who allegedly planned to run over voters at polling centres during Malaysia's general election on May 9 was one of 15 people arrested by the authorities in recent counter-terrorism swoops.

Described by police as a middle-aged housewife with husband and children, the 51-year-old woman allegedly also planned to launch a suicide mission by ramming into non-Muslim places of worship with her vehicle, carrying a gas cylinder as a detonator.

The mother of two intended to launch the attacks on behalf of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to police, who carried out the series of arrests between March 27 and May 9 in five states - Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor, Kelantan and Sabah.

She was apprehended in Puchong, Selangor, on May 9, said national police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun. Investigators are also probing whether her family was involved in planning the attacks.

"At the moment, investigators can only determine her involvement in the planning. She was picked up before she could settle on a location," an intelligence source told The Straits Times.

Another of the 15 taken into custody was a 17-year-old schoolboy who had pledged his support to the terror group. He was arrested on April 20 in Petaling Jaya.

"He made six Molotov cocktails and tested one of them at an open space in Damansara Damai. He had also recced several locations to launch his lone wolf attacks on non-Muslim houses of worship," Tan Sri Fuzi said.

Mr Fuzi said the teenager also recorded a video in which he threatened to launch attacks.

"The video was uploaded on three ISIS-affiliated WhatsApp groups and one Telegram group," he said.

In a report by The Straits Times on April 27 about the arrest, the youth was said to be wearing a balaclava in the video and addressing viewers while holding an object believed to be a Molotov cocktail.

"To all un-Islamic security forces and governments, we will launch attacks on entertainment outlets. We will do it soon and we will win," he had said, speaking in Malay.

An intelligence source told ST that the boy had joined ISIS-affiliated social media groups out of curiosity, but became radicalised.

The other suspects arrested in the latest operations included four Malaysians, six Filipinos, a married couple from a North African country and a Bangladeshi.

The first to be arrested was a Malaysian on March 27, nabbed at KL International Airport after he was denied entry to Turkey. The 33-year-old had worked as a cleaner for a local Selangor council.

The North African couple, arrested on April 2 in Gombak, were on their country's wanted list for their alleged involvement with ISIS. According to Mr Fuzi, they planned to use Malaysia as a transit point.

On the same day, the 41-year-old Bangladeshi, who owns a restaurant in Bukit Bintang, was arrested on suspicion of helping to smuggle firearms to international terrorists. "He was also flagged under Interpol's red notice," Mr Fuzi said.

Seven suspects - a Malaysian and six Filipinos, two of who were permanent residents - were arrested in Sabah on April 20 and 26.

Mr Fuzi said the terror cell was planning to collect firearms in Sabah to wage jihad in Marawi City in the Philippines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2018, with the headline '15 nabbed in latest Malaysian anti-terror swoops'. Print Edition | Subscribe