Malaysia nabs 7 suspects linked to ISIS, Abu Sayyaf

The suspects - five Malaysians and two Filipinos - were arrested in Kelantan, Sabah, Selangor and Kedah by the Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division from Nov 19 to Nov 28.
The suspects - five Malaysians and two Filipinos - were arrested in Kelantan, Sabah, Selangor and Kedah by the Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division from Nov 19 to Nov 28.PHOTO: SPECIAL BRANCH COUNTER-TERRORISM DIVISION MALAYSIA

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian police said yesterday they have thwarted terror plots with the arrests of six men and a woman with suspected militant links in a four-state swoop.

Police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun said the suspects - five Malaysians and two Filipinos - were arrested in Kelantan, Sabah, Selangor and Kedah by the Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division.

Those arrested include a honey seller in Kelantan, an oil and gas engineer in Kajang, Selangor, and three people in Sabah linked to the Abu Sayyaf.

A man working at a driving school in Kelantan had also allegedly received orders from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to attack non-Muslims and their places of worship, the Inspector-General of Police said.

"They were arrested in various operations held from Nov 19 until Nov 28. We are actively taking action against suspected terror elements," Tan Sri Fuzi said in a statement.

The police chief said the first suspect arrested was a 28-year-old Malaysian man in Kelantan on Nov 19. "The man, who sells honey, received instructions from militant leader Akel Zainal. He was ordered to launch attacks in Malaysia," said Mr Fuzi.

Akel Zainal is the main Malaysian militant leader recruiting people for the ISIS war in Syria.

The next arrest was of a 52-year-old Malaysian man on Nov 20 in Kajang, Selangor. The man was working as an oil and gas engineer and had channelled RM14,000 (S$4,600) in funds meant for terror operations to Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi in 2016 and 2017.

Muhammad Wanndy, a Malaysian ISIS militant, was killed in Syria in April last year, and his role was taken over by Akel Zainal.

Mr Fuzi said police also arrested a 45-year-old Filipino member of the Abu Sayyaf in Tawau, Sabah on Nov 21. "We believe he was involved in at least three kidnap-for-random incidents in southern Philippines and Sabah," he said, adding that the suspect is also wanted for crimes in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone.

A 35-year-old Malaysian man, who was working at a driving school in Kota Baru, Kelantan, was the next man arrested on Nov 21.

Police then picked up a 26-year-old Malaysian man, who was a factory van driver in Bedong, Kedah, on Nov 22.

"We believe he had given funds to Jemaah Ansharut Dauliah, a pro-ISIS terror group in Indonesia. The group was responsible for an attack on a police station in Jawa Tengah in April 2017," said Mr Fuzi.

The country's top cop said the last in the series of arrests was of a married couple in Tenom, Sabah, on Nov 28.

"We believe they have been withholding information on Abu Sayyaf Group members in Sabah," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2018, with the headline 'Malaysia nabs 7 suspects linked to ISIS, Abu Sayyaf'. Print Edition | Subscribe