3 suspects linked to ISIS 'wolf pack' cell arrested in Malaysia

Three Hindu temples in Kuala Lumpur, including the Batu Caves temple (above), have beefed up security. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Three suspected militants who were part of a recently busted "wolf pack" cell have been arrested, days after their "brothers in arms" were detained in a series of anti-terror swoops in the country.

National police chief Abdul Hamid Bador said the suspects - two Malaysians and one Indonesian linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) - were arrested in Kedah and Selangor on Tuesday.

Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid identified the local men as burger seller Muhammad Syazani Mahzan and farmer Muhamad Nuurul Amin Azizan. They were detained in Kuala Muda, Kedah, after turning themselves in. Said the Inspector-General of Police in a statement yesterday: "Both suspects, aged 27, have previously gone for bomb-making training conducted by Indonesia's terror group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah Indonesia in Yogyakarta last year with another militant who was arrested in November last year."

He added that the suspects had learnt to produce the triacetone triperoxide chemical used to make large-scale bombs and car bombs. "Both of them had recced a few churches in Jogjakarta for potential targets. Muhammad Syazani had also planned to launch a suicide bomb attack at a non-Muslim house of worship in Malaysia," he said.

Indonesian labourer Nuruddin Alele@Fatir Tir, 34, was arrested in Banting, Selangor, after tip-offs. Mr Abdul Hamid said: "He had been exposed to the ideology of the Islamic State (in Iraq and Syria) during his five-year incarceration in Surabaya, Indonesia. He also planned attacks on non-Muslim houses of worship in the Klang Valley."

The arrests followed previous swoops that saw four men - two ethnic Rohingya, an Indonesian and a Malaysian - arrested earlier this month for allegedly planning to attack temples and churches, and kill high-profile individuals, to avenge Malay-Muslim fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, who died from injuries after a riot at the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Subang Jaya on Nov 27.

During the arrests of the four men, six improvised explosive devices measuring 18cm long and capable of killing thousands, a 9mm CZ pistol and 15 bullets were seized.

Three temples in Kuala Lumpur, including Batu Caves, have stepped up security meanwhile and urged devotees to look out for suspicious characters. Said Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Devasthanam Kuala Lumpur: "We are consistently looking... to elevate security and safety measures at all three temples."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2019, with the headline 3 suspects linked to ISIS 'wolf pack' cell arrested in Malaysia. Subscribe