Malaysian police arrested six security personnel, allegedly linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, for planning to obtain weapons to launch terror attacks, just days after bombs exploded in neighbouring Thailand.
The six were arrested along with four others, bringing the total number of suspects to 10, in a sting operation conducted across six states on Wednesday, according to the Royal Malaysian Police.
The arrests of security personnel have raised concern that ISIS is targeting this particular group for recruitment as they are trained fighters with access to weapons. In April, two air force personnel were arrested for their links with ISIS.
The 10 newly arrested suspects, aged between 24 and 42, include two civil servants, one former interior designer and one kindergarten teacher.
"We believe they were planning to acquire weapons to launch attacks in Malaysia," said Inspector- General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar in a statement yesterday.
One of the civil servants is a woman who married a Malaysian ISIS member via Skype while he was fighting in Syria. Her husband has returned to the country and was arrested last month, a senior counter-terrorism official who asked not to be named told The Straits Times.
The suspects are believed to be spreading ISIS ideology, collecting funds to assist the militant group and arranging for Malaysian ISIS members to go to Syria.
"Investigations also revealed that they were assisting returning ISIS fighters to enter the country," Tan Sri Khalid added.
Mr Khalid said that the suspects were also recruiting people for ISIS and hiding information of the group's activities.
Malaysia tightened security in April after police arrested 29 ISIS suspects who were in the final stages of planning to blow up strategic buildings in Kuala Lumpur and the administrative capital of Putrajaya. They were also planning to kidnap VIPs for ransom.
The latest arrests bring the total number of ISIS suspects nabbed since last year to 121.