KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The 19-year-old Malaysian student who was detained in a failed terror plot to attack the Better Beer Festival in Kuala Lumpur and other targets in the Klang Valley was first exposed to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group's influence as a mere 15-year-old.
The boy was attracted to extremism after reading online about the group's false sense of strife.
"Two years later, he began to receive news on ISIS through Facebook. He even swore an oath of allegiance to an ISIS cell in Indonesia through social media," a source told The Star on Sunday (Oct 22).
The student was arrested in the Malaysian state of Kelantan on Oct 10 along with two others - a 35-year-old former army man and a 24-year-old contract worker. Police also seized three high-impact improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Sources said the student was the mastermind and bomb-maker of the group while the former soldier provided financial support.
The contract worker was seen as the group's handler, given his links to known militant Akel Zainal.
It is also learnt that the student planned to head to Syria or the southern Philippines after sitting his pre-university examinations.
"He did not even want to get married until he has fought for ISIS. On top of the attacks on the festival and entertainment outlets, the suspect also planned to carry out lone-wolf attacks on other targets," the source said.
The student, the youngest of nine siblings, is from a middle-class family. His father is also on the village committee.
"As his beliefs in the terror group grew, the student began isolating himself from his family," a source said.
When police arrested the suspects, they were meeting at a restaurant in Pasir Puteh to discuss final preparations for their terror plot.
"They had the bombs and financial means to carry out the attack. The final meeting involved discussing logistics in Kuala Lumpur as well as contingency plans in case their initial effort did not pan out," a source said.
Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun told a press conference last Wednesday that several IEDs, each with a blast radius of 30m, were seized following the arrests of the three men.
He said the suspects were targeting entertainment outlets and non-Muslim places of worship in the Klang Valley, aside from the beer festival.
A total of 78 militants have been detained this year and more than eight terror plots have been thwarted.
Police believe several Malaysian militants are still in southern Philippines while more than 50 are still in Syria.