Malaysia: At least 30 Islamic State militants nabbed, 14 of them foreigners

Muslim-majority Malaysia has been on the watch for Islamic State-linked militants since an attack on 14 January 2016 by the group in Jakarta, the capital of neighbouring Indonesia.

Since 24 March until 30 August 2017, Malaysian police nabbed at least IS militants across the country. As per country’s police, 57 Malaysians who had joined jihadist group Islamic State (IS) in Syria have been trying to return home due to various pressures such as economic difficulties.

The list of the arrested militants is as follows:

On 24-25 March, two suspects, aged 26 and 41, were arrested in Kelantan. Police accused the duo of smuggling weapons into the country from Southern Thailand, for use by IS militants in Malaysia.

On 4 April, a 26-year-old female college student in the Malaysian capital was arrested at Kuala Lumpur International Airport after being deported by Turkish authorities. Police said the woman had left the country for Turkey on 29 August 2016 to join IS in Syria. On 5 Feb 2017, she was nabbed by Turkish authorities while awaiting orders from Malaysian national IS Commander Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi to enter Syria.

On 20 April, a 41-year-old unemployed man who had joined IS in Syria was arrested in the state of Malacca. On the same day, a 32-year-old woman who worked as an assistant engineer in Johor was arrested for promoting IS online.

On 25 April, another 41-year-old unemployed man was arrested. Police accused him of actively promoting IS since 2014 through 15 Facebook pages that belonged to him.

On 23-26 May, six Malaysia nationals were arrested on charges of helping IS militants in Syria. They included a27-year-old cow farmer Muhammad Muzafa Arieff Junaidi, two brothers – a religious school teacher and online businessman, a 54-year-old retired military personnel who channelled around 20,000 ringgit to Syrian militants through several transactions and another two unnamed suspects.

On 15 June, three suspected Islamic State (IS) militants were arrested in Sandakan in Sabah. They were planning to join extremist forces in Marawi City, where the Philippine military is engaged in a pitched battle with radical Islamist fighters.

On 4 July, a 25-year-old Bangladeshi who worked as a temporary teacher at a religious school in Gombak was arrested in Shah Alam on July 4. He was suspected of being a member of Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh, which is an Islamic State (IS) affiliate.

On 7 August, a 40-year-old Malaysian trader was arrested in Johor Baru for being in possession of six issues of Dabiq; the official IS newsletter and a few IS-related articles on his mobile phone.

On 9 August, two Maldives men, who worked as air-conditioner technicians, were arrested for using Malaysia and Singapore as a transit point before heading to Syria to join IS.

On 11 August, a 63-year-old Malaysian retired teacher was arrested in Bachok, Kelantan for actively promoting IS propaganda via his two Facebook accounts and two Iraqi nationals who are siblings – were arrested in Gombak. Police suspect the brothers are commanders of an IS cell in southern Iraq

On 15 August, a Palestinian man was arrested in Kuala Lumpur. He was planning to head to the southern Philippines to the IS faction there.

On 16 August, an Iraqi man believed to be linked to an IS-friendly Albanian terror cell was arrested in Selangor.

On 25 August, two Indonesian men, aged 29 and 47, were arrested in Petaling Jaya for actively recruiting militants for IS and who were planning to head to Syria.

On 30 August, eight members of the IS affiliate Abu Sayyaf group – two Philippines nationals and six Malaysians – arrested in Cheras with the cooperation of the Special Action Unit (UTK).

All suspects were detained under the Security Offences Act (Special Measures) 2012.

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