KUALA LUMPUR • Two 28-year-old civil servants were among eight suspected Malaysian militants detained in separate police raids last Friday, police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said yesterday.
The suspects, aged between 22 and 36, were detained in simultaneous swoops in Selangor, Perak and Johor by the Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division, he said in a statement.
The Inspector-General of Police said that six of the suspects are believed to be members of Tanzim Al-Qaeda, while the two civil servants have links to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Tanzim Al-Qaeda is a militant group linked to the notorious terrorist organisation Jemaah Islamiah. Tan Sri Khalid said the two young men belong to the same cell as two civil servants detained in August.
"This particular cell is responsible for spreading (ISIS) ideology among their colleagues at this government department," he said.
Mr Khalid said two of the Tanzim Al-Qaeda members were previously detained in Lebanon in October 2012 for trying to smuggle themselves into Syria to join the terror group. They were arrested by the Lebanese authorities.
"They were escorted back to Malaysia by a special squad from the Counter Terrorism Division on Oct 30 and were arrested once they reached KL International Airport," the police chief said.
One of them was a 24-year-old former civil servant from Selangor, and the other, a 33-year-old electrician from Kuala Lumpur.
All the suspects are being held under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, or Sosma - a security Act that replaced the Internal Security Act in 2012.
The Malaysian authorities have been actively pursuing local militants and their sympathisers, with officials saying social media tools are being used by overseas militants to gain local recruits.
Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said recently that since 2001, the authorities had arrested 391 militants linked to Al-Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiah, Darul Islam, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and other groups.
A total of 128 people linked to militant activities in Iraq and Syria were among those captured.
Malaysians had transferred a total of RM50,000 (S$16,500) to bank accounts of extremist groups in Syria to support their fight and to help war victims, Datuk Nur Jazlan had said.
Meanwhile, the High Court yesterday gave a housewife a discharge not amounting to an acquittal on a charge of helping a former security prisoner promote terrorist activities in Syria, Bernama news agency said.
Judge Mohd Azman Hussin made the decision after the prosecution informed the court that Madam Halimah Hussin, 54, again failed to be in court yesterday - the third time she had failed to present herself in court for the case.
The woman was charged with helping former detainee Muhammad Hilmi Hasim in promoting an ideology intended to incite the people of Syria to commit terrorist acts, the news agency said.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK