KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian anti-terror police arrested 15 terror suspects, including a housewife who was planning to attack non-Muslim voters at a polling station during last month's general election, inspector-general of police Mohd Fuzi Harun said on Friday (Jun 1).
“The woman was planning to launch attacks using a car, targeting non-Muslim voters during the general election," said Mohd Fuzi.
In a news release, the police said the 51-year-old housewife also intended to use a car to attack non-Muslim places of worship. She had also planned to equip the car with a gas canister in order to cause an explosion.
HOUSEWIFE IS MASTERMIND OF TERROR PLOT: INTELLIGENCE SOURCE
A senior intelligence source told Channel NewsAsia the woman was the “mastermind” of the terror plot.
“She exhorted her fellow ideological supporters … to reject the democratic system (in Malaysia) and to choose a Caliphate system instead,” said the source.
“She got the idea of using a car to attack non-Muslims from Islamic State (IS) attacks in France and the UK where terrorists used cars to run-over people,” said the source.
According to counter-terrorism expert Ahmad El-Muhammady, the housewife is the first Malaysian woman to mastermind a terror plot.
“We previously had many women who acted as recruiters, fund-raising, members of terror groups but this is the first time a woman acted as a mastermind,” Ahmad, an advisor to the Royal Malaysian Police on Rehabilitation Programme for terrorist detainees, told Channel NewsAsia.
Her husband and children were not involved in her activities according to the intelligence source.
“She has a younger sibling who is involved. She has at least 10 hardcore followers. She recruited them via Facebook, Telegram and WhatsApp,” said the source.
The sting operation conducted between Mar 27 to May 9 across Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor, Kelantan and Sabah also netted a 17-year-old student.
TEEN SUSPECT LEARNT HOW TO MAKE MOLOTOV COCKTAILS ONLINE
“What is attention-grabbing is the arrest of the secondary school student, suspected to be a member of Islamic State (IS), who was planning lone wolf attacks using Molotov cocktails on churches, entertainment centres and Hindu temples around Kuala Lumpur,” said Mohd Fuzi.
“The suspect had made six Molotov cocktails and tested one of them in a field in Damansara Damai, Petaling Jaya,” he added.
The intelligence source told Channel NewsAsia the teenager learnt how to make the Molotov cocktails from the Internet.
“The teenager had asked for donations to buy material for the Molotov cocktails. After receiving the funds, he bought the material from a shop near his home in Damansara Damai,” said the source.
The police said the student had filmed and conducted reconnaissance surveillance on several locations. The youth had also recorded a warning video about the attack and sent the clip to three IS-linked WhatsApp groups and a Telegram group.
The 17-year-old was arrested an hour after uploading the video.
BANGLADESHI SUSPECT OWNS A RESTAURANT, CLEANING SERVICE IN MALAYSIA
A 41-year-old Bangladeshi suspect, who is on Interpol wanted list, was arrested for smuggling arms for international terrorists.
The suspect owns a restaurant in the popular Jalan Imbi, Bukit Bintang area as well as a cleaning agency, said the intelligence source
“The subject entered Malaysia in 2009, brought along his wife and one daughter. He owns one restaurant and one cleaning service agency,” said the source.
FILIPINOS, MALAYSIANS NABBED PLANNED TO WAGE BATTLE IN SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES
Police also arrested seven suspects in Sabah who were part of a cell planning to procure weapons to wage battle in the city of Marawi in southern Philippines.
The cell comprised one Malaysian, four Filipinos and two Filipinos with Malaysian permanent residence.
Pro-IS militants laid siege to Marawi for six months last year in a battle that killed more than 1,000 people.
FIVE OTHER SUSPECTS NABBED, TWO REMAIN AT LARGE
Also netted in the sting operation was a North African couple, who is on the wanted list in their home country as IS terror suspects.They were arrested in Gombak, Selangor and deported to their home country on Apr 14.
A 33-year-old Malaysian, who worked as a sweeper for the Selangor local council, was arrested at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport after being deported by Turkey for attempting to enter into Syria to join IS on Jan 31 this year.
A Malaysian suspect, Nor Farkhan Mohd Isa, wanted for planning terror attacks on non-Muslim places of worship, kidnapping and killing police officers, was arrested in Johor on Apr 20. He was planning to escape to Indonesia, according to the intelligence source.
His fellow accomplice, Muhamad Faizal Muhamad Hanafi, surrendered himself to police in Kelantan state while two more wanted suspects, who are part of the cell, remain at large, according to the police.