KUALA LUMPUR - Ten suspected militants were detained in Malaysia last month following an anti-terror swoop by counter-terrorism officers, the police chief disclosed on Friday (Sept 14).
They were nabbed between Aug 11 and 31 in Selangor, Pahang, Johor, Terengganu, Kelantan, Melaka and Penang.
Those rounded up were part of two separate terror cells which planned to link up with a Middle Eastern terror group.
"In the first arrests, five suspects known as Asoib @ Youths from the East (Pemuda dari Timur) were detained in Selangor, Pahang, Johor and Terengganu," national police chief Mohamad Fuzi Haron said in a statement.
"They're between 39 and 53 years old. They had planned to work with a foreign terror group from a Middle Eastern country to launch attacks in a bordering nation," he said.
"This terror cell will be supplied with various weapons by the terror group as soon as they arrive there. One of the Asoib members has left for the country to make preparations and coordinate the attack operation," he added.
The police chief did not identify the neighbouring country.
He also said members of the terror cell had misinterpreted a Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) about Imam Mahdi, the prophesied redeemer in Islam.
"They believe that Imam Mahdi will appear in Mecca this year. This group will then collaborate with Imam Mahdi's 'army' to attack secular countries and fight against the dajjal (devil)," the police chief said.
The second cell comprised five members who were arrested between Aug 25 and 31 in Kelantan, Melaka and Penang.
"The group was known as Ar Rayah. They're aged between 18 and 50. The main suspect from the cell had plans to launch smoke bomb attacks at vice areas in Melaka," Tan Sri Fuzi said.
Police had seized five smoke bombs, he said, adding that the attacks were intended to cause panic and chaos among patrons of the entertainment outlets and to hurt them.
The main suspect in connection with the Ar Rayah cell was arrested on Aug 25, and the remaining four were taken into custody in Kelantan and Penang on Malaysia's national day on Aug 31.
One of the suspects was a 50-year-old foreigner who worked at a restaurant.
He was part of a terror group in a South-east Asian country which promoted its "struggles and ideology" to Ar-Rayah members via WhatsApp, the police chief said. He did not identify the South-east Asian country.
The foreign suspect also played a role in influencing Ar-Rayah members to donate money for the purpose of purchasing weapons.