KUALA LUMPUR • A 26-year-old Malaysian has been identified by police as the man who has been pulling the strings of several militants in the country.
Muhammad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi, from his base thousands of kilometres away in Syria, actively uses social media to contact Malaysian militants to plot attacks, or to persuade them to join him in the war-torn Middle Eastern country, police sources said.
Police said recently that some of those nabbed had been using the Telegram chat application.
Malaysia is battling the threat of extremism led by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), with at least 240 people arrested, 30 of them foreigners. Police have secured 48 convictions and 77 others have been charged. Another 59 have been released after investigations.
Muhammad Wanndy has already been fingered by the authorities for directing a group of men to plot a June attack on a nightclub.
Finding a targeted large nightclub closed at 2am on June 28, two militants on a motorcycle lobbed a grenade instead at a smaller nightspot called Movida in Puchong, Selangor, injuring eight people.
That was the first successful strike in Malaysia by ISIS, police have said. Late last month, a 21-year-old factory worker and a 24-year-old jobless man pleaded guilty to throwing a hand grenade into the Movida club.
Muhammad Wanndy, who is from Durian Tunggal town in Malacca, ran off to Syria in January with his wife, also aged 26. Previous media reports have said he is based in Raqqa, ISIS' de facto capital.
His name came up again after police nabbed more than a dozen suspected ISIS supporters in several raids over the past two weeks. Three of them had been taking orders from him.
Two of them, arrested while hiding in a hut in remote Kuala Krai in Kelantan, were part of the group that plotted the nightclub attack, police said. The duo were waiting for new orders from Muhammad Wanndy to attack a Johor entertainment outlet. "We also seized an M67 grenade, which they planned to use," an official said.
A third man, who was arrested recently, had also received orders from the Syria-based terrorist, police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said on Saturday. The man was to attack the police headquarters in Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur, and government complexes in Putrajaya.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK