KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian police said on Monday (Dec 10) that 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 Group.
A man working at a driving school in Kelantan had also allegedly received orders from Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to attack non-Muslims and their places of worship, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) said.
"They were arrested in various operations held from Nov 19 until Nov 28. We are actively taking action against suspected terror elements," IGP Fuzi said in a statement.
The police chief said the first arrest was made on 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 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 2017, and his role as main recruiter was taken over by Akel.
Mr Fuzi said police also arrested a 45-year-old Filipino member of Abu Sayyaf in Tawau, Sabah, on Nov 21.
"We believe he was involved in at least three kidnap for ransom incidents in southern Philippines and Sabah," he said, adding that the suspect is also wanted for crimes in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone).
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.
"He had received orders from ISIS leaders to launch attacks on non-Muslims and their places of worship," the IGP said.
Police then picked up a 26-year-old Malaysian man, who is 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 a married couple in Tenom, Sabah, on Nov 28.
"We believe they have been withholding information on Abu Sayyaf Group members in Sabah," said the police chief.