KUALA LUMPUR • A Singaporean man arrested recently for militant activities had multiple businesses in Johor Baru, ranging from massage parlours to restaurants.
Sources said the militant, whom Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs identified as Mohamed Kazali Salleh, 48, also brought in scrap cars from Singapore and Indonesia to Malaysia.
"The authorities are investigating whether the businesses were a front for the Islamic State terror group," said a source, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by another name.
Kazali was among six militants detained by Malaysia's Bukit Aman counter-terrorism police in anti-terror sweeps between Dec 19 and Jan 28.
The militant, who had given funds and received orders from Malaysian militant leader Akel Zainal, was told to recruit a few others for an attack on a Freemason building in central Johor Baru, another source said.
"He had been in close contact with Akel since 2008. The authorities discovered that in December last year, Akel told him to target a Freemason building in the Nong Chik area," the source said.
Kazali was handed over to the Singapore authorities on Jan 7 after Bukit Aman completed its investigations.
He was detained under Singapore's Internal Security Act. "Based on intelligence, the suspect was not leading any terror cell in the island republic," said a source.
Five others were detained along with Kazali during the operations by Bukit Aman police - two Malaysians and three men from Bangladesh, the Philippines and a South Asian country.
Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said the two Malaysian men had been deported from a foreign country for their involvement with ISIS, and were arrested in Sepang.
It has been learnt that the duo were working in a farm in Australia before being deported.
A 21-year-old Filipino, who was a member of the Abu Sayyaf group, was arrested in Kota Kinabalu, followed by a 26-year-old South Asian who was detained in Puchong, and a Bangladeshi cleaner in Klang.
Sources said that the South Asian man had been harbouring his fellow countrymen for a month.
"His friend is listed under Interpol's Red Notice for his involvement in terrorist activities," the source said.
The latest arrests bring the total number of militants detained in Malaysia since February 2013 to 459 people.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK