Malaysia hunting 4 militants planning to kidnap and murder cops
Malaysian police are hunting for four militants suspected of planning attacks on non-Muslim places of worship, as well as to kidnap and kill police officers.
Police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun said in a statement yesterday that six members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) cell were arrested between Feb 27 and March 1. But four others were still on the run.
Police said the men were "dangerous" and "capable of launching attacks that could pose a threat to national security".
Two of the suspects were named as Muhamad Faizal Muhamad Hanafi and Muhamad Hanafi Yah, both from Kelantan.
A third is Nor Farkhan Mohd Isa, from Skudai, Johor. The fourth is Awae Wae-Eya, a Thai national living in Narathiwat province in southern Thailand.
"We have been monitoring the cells for the last few months. We are asking the public to share with us if they have any information on the whereabouts of these four suspects. They should approach the police if they know anything," Special Branch's Counter Terrorism chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay told The Straits Times.
Intelligence sources believe Awae is the group's mastermind, based on interrogation of the six men arrested, and that he is trying to establish an ISIS cell in southern Thailand.
The arrests of the other members of the terror cell, which included two men working as janitors in Singapore, were revealed on March 24.
The plot was uncovered after Malaysian counter-terrorism police, aided by their Singaporean counterparts, detained the terrorists in several swoops.
The order to kidnap and kill policemen was the first of its kind, according to a source.
The six men nabbed included a 37-year-old technician who was initially thought to be the masterminded of plans to attack places of worship in Johor Baru.
Also picked up during the raids was a 30-year old security guard, who was tasked with acquiring firearms and scouting for non-Muslim houses of worship to target.
Another suspect, a 25-year-old waiter, had been ordered to kidnap and kill policemen.
Two others, aged 23 and 22, were arrested on March 1 and worked as janitors in Singapore. One of them acted as the intermediary to buy firearms. The other was picked up by police.
A member of the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines was also arrested during the police crackdown, in Sabah, on March 15.
Malaysia has arrested nearly 400 people since 2013 for suspected links to terrorism.