KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian counter-terrorism police have arrested seven terror suspects, including a member of the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) involved in three serial kidnappings in the southern Philippines and Sabah, said Inspector-General of Police Fuzi Harun in a statement on Monday (Dec 10).
The sting operation - conducted from Nov 19 to 28 in Kelantan, Selangor, Sabah and Kedah - netted a total of five Malaysians and two Filipinos.
"The suspect is a member of Abu Sayyaf Group who was involved in at least three serial kidnappings in southern Philippines and Sabah,” said Fuzi in a statement.
"(He) is listed as an individual who is wanted by the Eastern Sabah Security Command to help in investigations in criminal cases in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone),” he added.
ARRESTS FOILED TERROR ATTACKS
The arrests also foiled potential terror attacks in Malaysia, as two Malaysian suspects had received orders from the Islamic State (IS) to launch attacks in the country.
An intelligence source told Channel NewsAsia that both men belonged to the same IS cell, but did not know each other.
"Both men received orders from a Malaysian Islamic State member in Syria, Akel Zainal, to carry out terror attacks," the source told Channel NewsAsia.
The first Malaysian, aged 28, worked as a honey seller and was arrested in Kelantan.
The second Malaysian suspect was also arrested in Kelantan. The suspect, aged 35, was a staff member at a driving school.
“The suspect is believed to have received orders from the Malaysian right-hand members of Daesh in Syria to launch attacks on non-Muslims places of worship in Malaysia,” said Fuzi.
MALAYSIANS DONATING MONEY TO ISLAMIC STATE IN SYRIA AND INDONESIA
Two Malaysians were arrested for channelling funds to both IS in Syria and Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), its biggest affiliate in Indonesia.
The first suspect, a Malaysian engineer working for a company in the oil and gas industry, was arrested in Kajang, Selangor for channelling RM14,000 (US$3,356) to Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, a Malaysian IS member in Syria, in 2016 and 2017.
Wanndy was killed in an air strike in Syria in 2017.
A 26-year-old Malaysian working as a van driver for a factory was arrested in Bedong, Kedah for his involvement in the transfer of funds to a JAD cell involved in a string of attacks on police stations in Central Java in April 2017.
JAD was formed in 2015. It is composed of almost two dozen Indonesian extremist groups that pledged allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The group is responsible for every major terror attack in the country since 2015.
A Filipino man and his Malaysian wife, aged 48 and 40 respectively, were arrested in Tenom, Sabah.
Both were arrested for hiding information regarding the presence of ASG in Sabah.