Seven Filipino security guards in Malaysia were recently arrested for being suspected militants of the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group, national police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun said yesterday.
The Filipino men, aged between 22 and 38, were detained by Malaysia's counter-terrorism division in the latest round of raids in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 14.
"They sneaked into Malaysia via Sandakan, Sabah, in September 2015, before leaving for KL using forged travel documents.
"All of them had been working as security guards at private companies in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.
"One of the suspects, a 22-year- old man, was also involved in clashes with the Philippine authorities and kidnappings in southern Philippines. He was found to have collaborated with ISIS-linked militants in southern Philippines," Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi said, using the acronym of terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The arrests have raised concerns on whether the suspected militants had taken up jobs as security personnel to procure firearms to launch their attacks.
Mr Mohamad Fuzi was quick to allay these concerns.
"No, it is their day job - they took it up to survive .
"We have run background checks and scrutinised the security companies as to whether the suspects had access to arms, but investigations found that they worked as static guards, which means they did not have access to weapons.
"Even so, we cannot and shouldn't take things for granted. We need to put a stop to this as the suspects will attempt to radicalise Malaysians. We will not compromise the nation's security in any way," he told The Straits Times.
With these arrests, Malaysia's counter-terrorism force has nabbed 41 foreign fighters so far this year.
"The police will continue its operations against foreign terrorists who sneak into the country either to go into hiding, raise funds, launch attacks or use Malaysia as their hub to plan their attacks against other countries," Mr Mohamad Fuzi said.
Meanwhile, the cancellation of an annual beer festival in Kuala Lumpur, after objections from Parti Islam SeMalaysia, has been blamed on unidentified militants who planned to sabotage the event.
"A security concern was raised following information received by our intelligence. To avoid any untoward incidents, we have to step up and object to the festival. The people's safety is our utmost concern," Mr Mohamad Fuzi said.
The two-day event, originally scheduled for Oct 6 and 7, was expected to draw around 6,000 people and feature 250 craft beers from 43 breweries worldwide.
Correction note: This story has been edited to clarify that the honorific for Mohamad Fuzi should be Tan Sri. We are sorry for the error.