KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Police picked up a total of 409 foreigners and busted a passport-forging syndicate masterminded by a Pakistani man in the first large-scale joint operation led by Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division.
About 200 law enforcement officers hit the streets on Sunday (Aug 6) to nab foreigners linked to international terror groups, those without valid documents and those suspected of illegal activities.
Counter Terrorism Division head, Deputy Commissioner Datuk Ayob Khan, later confirmed that the operation was held as part of preparations for the 2017 SEA Games, which starts on Aug 19.
Concentrating on the city centre around Jalan Masjid India, security personnel in full tactical gear were not only armed but also equipped with radionuclide identification devices (RID) to detect radioactive material.
Counter Terrorism Division officers, along with their comrades from other units such as the Special Action Unit, General Operations Force Tiger Platoon and Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department, took part.
Other agencies involved were the Immigration Department, Atomic Energy Licensing Board, National Registration Department and Interpol.
Public buses were also stopped for checks and in one instance, a Nigerian man ran so fast to escape that bystanders commented that he was faster than Usain Bolt. Police personnel managed to catch him, although it took five of them to overpower him.
In a raid on the Menara City One condominium in Jalan Munshi Abdullah, multiple enforcement teams made their way from the top and lowest floors simultaneously, with armed officers at stairwells to block escape routes.
Most residents cooperated when the authorities came knocking, with documents in hand for verification.
Those who ignored the knocks soon had their doors and locks broken.
Some units where the occupants refused to cooperate were found to be full of foreigners with incomplete papers or none at all.
Police also detected fake passport-makers and seized some RM54,000 (S$17,154) along with 70 passports, including 67 Indian passports, and a machine used to forge immigration stickers.
Resident Annuar Amin, 43, said he was shocked to see dozens of suspects tied up at the apartment courtyard as they awaited processing.
"I was about to go back upstairs, but I saw people being rounded up," he said. "Then I heard loud noises, so I decided to just wait below until everything was over."
Deputy Commissioner Ayob said the 409 foreigners detained were brought back to the police headquarters for further screening.
"They were from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Indonesia, Myanmar, Oman, Yemen and Nigeria, among others," he said.
"We held those suspected of being involved in terrorism activities. The others were handed over to Immigration for offences under their jurisdiction.
"(The op) is focused on the Klang Valley. Our top goal is to nab foreign terrorist elements.
"We are being proactive in dealing with possible threats."
Deputy Commissioner Ayob also said the operation did not detect any radioactive material, but his division will continue to use RID in future operations.
"Given that terrorists are becoming more creative in using radioactive devices, we have to be equipped with the right tools," he said.