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Malaysia arrests 2 men linked to ISIS over planned attacks

KUALA LUMPUR Malaysia has arrested two men believed to have links with militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), including one who allegedly walked around the capital armed with a knife aiming to kill Buddhist monks, police said yesterday.

The Muslim-majority nation has been on high alert since gunmen linked to ISIS launched several attacks in Indonesia, including in Jakarta, in January 2016.

The two suspects were arrested in separate raids, on suspicion of planning to carry out acts of violence and promoting ISIS ideology.

One of them, an Indonesian who was arrested last week, had allegedly scoured a busy district of Kuala Lumpur in November, seeking Buddhist monks to kill in retaliation for violence suffered by Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

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"The attempt failed, and police managed to confiscate a knife during the raid," Mr Mohamad Fuzi Harun, the inspector-general of police, said in a statement.

He added that the suspect had also allegedly communicated with a senior ISIS leader over WhatsApp, had sought to recruit several other Indonesians and put up an ISIS flag at the building site where he worked.

The other suspect, a Malaysian teacher at a private religious school, was detained last month on suspicion of planning an attack on entertainment outlets and to rob, kidnap or kill non-Muslims.

The suspect, who had been previously jailed under Malaysia's anti-terror law, had also maintained contact with former members of known terror groups and promoted ISIS ideology on his Facebook account to recruit new members, police said.

Malaysia has arrested hundreds of people over the past few years for suspected links to militant groups.

A grenade attack on a bar on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur in June 2016 wounded eight people. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. - REUTERS

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