Six suspected Malaysian militants picked up in swoop

Members of the Royal Malaysian Police elite high-profile counter-terrorism tactical unit. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS) - A suspected Malaysian arms smuggler for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group who fled to Thailand in March has surrendered to the police, Malaysian police said on Saturday (May 27).

Muhammad Muzafa Arieff Junaidi was among six suspected militants detained by police following swoops in Kelantan, Selangor, Perak and Kedah held from Tuesday to Friday.

They were picked up in special operations by the Counter Terrorism Division of the Malaysian police.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said Muhammad Muzafa surrendered to the police in Rantau Panjang, Kelantan on Tuesday after police issued a media statement requesting the public to come forward with information about him.

The 27-year-old cow farmer was wanted by police for smuggling arms for Malaysia-based ISIS militants.

"He had earlier fled to southern Thailand on March 22 after smuggling an M4 Carbine and a pistol. Subsequently, the police asked assistance of the public to locate the suspect," he said in a statement.

Police also arrested a pair of siblings - a 23-year-old religious school teacher and a 29-year-old online merchant in Perak and Kedah.

"Both brothers are relatives of known militant Muhammad Fudhail Omar. Fudhail, who is in Syria, once ordered a lone wolf attack in Sandakan in August last year," Khalid said adding that the suspects were detained on Thursday and Friday.

He said the brothers were suspected of assisting and supporting ISIS militants in Syria, especially Fudhail and another person Akel Zainal.

"We believe Fudhail is likely to replace Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, as the top Malaysian militant," he said. Wanndy was the alleged mastermind behind a grenade attack on a Kuala Lumpur bar last June which injured eight people. It was the first and so far only ISIS attack that caused casualties in Malaysia. Wanndy was confirmed killed in an attack in Syria recently.

The fourth suspect, a 54-year-old retired Army personnel, was detained on Thursday in Kedah.

"We believe he had channelled some RM20,000 (S$6,500) to militants in Syria through multiple transactions.

"One of his sons, Afif Safwan Azuddin, has already joined IS in Syria," Khalid said, using another name for the militant group.

The other unnamed suspects were detained in Selangor and Kedah on Thursday.

"One is a quality control officer at a private company and the other is jobless. Both were suspected of supporting and assisting IS," Khalid said.

All six suspects will be held for further investigation, Khalid said.

Malaysia has arrested more than 250 people between 2013 and 2016 for suspected militant activities linked to ISIS.

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