World

Malaysian cops foil attack on SEA Games closing ceremony

Malaysian police also stops attack on Independence Day parade with arrests of ISIS-linked militants

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police thwarted a plan by a member of the Abu Sayyaf militant group, which is linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), to attack the closing ceremony of the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur last week, the top police official said yesterday.

The suspected attacker, a 25-year-old Filipino, had been involved in fighting, kidnapping and beheading of foreign hostages in the Philippines, Inspector-General of Police (IGP)Mohamad Fuzi Harun said in a statement.

CONCERN

The arrest will raise concern about increasing cooperation among militants within South-east Asia and what governments fear is the spreading influence of ISIS as it loses ground in the Middle East.

Mr Mohamad Fuzi did not identify the suspect but said he had planned to attack the closing ceremony of the games at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, as well as an Independence Day parade the next day.

The suspect was arrested in a raid on Aug 30, the day of the ceremony, along with seven other suspected members of the hardline Abu Sayyaf, including another Philippine national.

Eleven other suspected militants, including nine foreigners, were picked up in a two-month security operation before the games.

The arrests were the latest in a crackdown on militancy by Malaysia. Since 2013, it has arrested more than 250 people on suspicion of links to ISIS.

Among those picked up were two Iraqi brothers, who were suspected to have served as commanders for ISIS, Mr Mohamad Fuzi said.

They were working as technicians and were arrested in a Kuala Lumpur suburb on Aug 11.

The Iraqis had arrived in Malaysia separately and were detained on information from foreign intelligence agencies, a Malaysian police source said.

"One arrived last year, while the other came in early August. We're still investigating what their activities were in Malaysia," said the source, who declined to be identified because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Others picked up in the sweep included suspects from Bangladesh, the Maldives, Indonesia and the Palestinian territories. - REUTERS

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