Malaysian police arrest 45 foreign terrorist fighters

Malaysian counterterrorism officers arresting suspected Abu Sayyaf militants.
Malaysian counterterrorism officers arresting suspected Abu Sayyaf militants.PHOTO: MALAYSIA'S SPECIAL BRANCH COUNTER TERRORISM DIVISION

Also, 18-year-old with possible terror links held for making bomb

Malaysian police have detained an 18-year-old in north-eastern Kelantan state for making a bomb.

The teenager was among several people arrested for suspected involvement with terrorist groups, national police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun said yesterday.

He declined to elaborate.

"It is too early to reveal any details but I will release a statement about this in three days," he told reporters at a press conference at the Police Training Centre.

In a separate development, he said Malaysia's Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division had also arrested 45 foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) in a series of operations between January and Oct 6.

The arrests, Datuk Seri Mohamad Fuzi said in a statement, were made based on intelligence that remnants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had been instructed to infiltrate other countries to launch attacks after losing the majority of their bases in Iraq and Syria.

"We also discovered cooperation between (ISIS) and other terrorist groups, including the ASG, in sending militants to Malaysia to launch attacks," he said, also referring to the Abu Sayyaf Group and Bangladesh terror group Jamaatul Mujahideen.

"The ASG members who entered Malaysia are suspected to have planned on launching attacks here, but other terrorists (from different groups) on the other hand, are suspected of seeking shelter, collecting funds, planning to either launch attacks here or using Malaysia as their operation base to launch attacks at other countries," he said.

Mr Mohamad Fuzi added that the success of the police operations is the result of cooperation with foreign intelligence and enforcement agencies. "The police will continue to monitor and take action against FTFs to make sure that all attempts to launch attacks (in Malaysia) are stopped."

He also revealed that of the 45 foreign fighters detained, 31 were ISIS members, with three southern Iraq commanders among them.

The others comprise nine from ASG , three from the Fetullah Terrorist Organisation, one Albanian militant affiliated to ISIS, and another linked to Jamaatul Mujahideen.

Thus far, 13 have been brought to court, 12 were deported to their respective countries, seven were freed while one has been detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015. The remaining 12 are still under investigation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2017, with the headline 'Malaysian police arrest 45 foreign terrorist fighters'. Print Edition | Subscribe