Malaysia nabs three terror suspects

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'Man in Perak taught by ISIS to make explosives to attack non-Muslim places of worship'

Malaysia has arrested three terrorism suspects, among them a 21-year-old man who said he was taught by top militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to make explosives to be used in attacks on non-Muslim places of worship.

All three are Malaysians.

National police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun said yesterday that the unemployed man admitted he had received instructions from Malaysia's most wanted terrorist Mahmud Ahmad and a Saudi Arabian bomb-making expert on how to make improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on a large scale.

"He was arrested in Bagan Serai, Perak, on Sept 8, and has links with Al-Qaeda and Abu Sayyaf militants," Mr Mohamad Fuzi said.

"We believe he has sworn allegiance to ISIS and is believed to have joined the terror group early this year. He has attempted to make three bombs three times."

In addition to making IEDs, the suspect had been ordered to acquire a pistol, M-16 and AK-47 rifles, and a hand grenade from a neighbouring country for the purpose of launching attacks on non-Muslim places of worship in Malaysia.

"We seized bomb-making chemicals at the suspect's house," Mr Mohamad Fuzi said.

In a separate raid, counter-terrorism officers arrested a 38-year-old chendol seller in Melaka on Sunday for producing ISIS flags and promoting the terror group.

The man had planned to join the ISIS faction in the southern Philippines and in Rakhine, Myanmar, said Mr Mohamad Fuzi.

Also on Sunday, the counter-terrorism unit arrested in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, a 41-year-old bus driver who had plans to travel to Syria to join ISIS later this year.

Before the latest arrests, the Malaysian authorities had put 332 Malaysians and foreigners behind bars since 2013, as the country battles supporters and sympathisers of ISIS and its affiliates.

Among those arrested were army personnel and policemen, as well as women who wanted to travel to Syria to join ISIS.

The Malaysian authorities also detained 19 suspected terrorists, including eight Abu Sayyaf militants, in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Kelantan and Johor in a series of swoops between July 4 and Aug 30.

The suspects comprised eight Malaysians and 11 foreigners from Bangladesh, the Maldives, Iraq, Palestine, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Malaysia attracts tens of thousands of students from Muslim countries as well as migrant workers seeking higher pay, and they were among those who have been arrested in recent years.