Malaysia Arrests Three Suspects in Alleged KL Terror Plot

BenarNews Staff

2015-09-25
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150925-MY-jalan-1000 Foreign tourists and Malaysians visit Jalan Alor, a food street in central Kuala Lumpur and alleged target of a terrorist plot, Sept. 25, 2015.
AFP

Malaysian police Friday announced the arrests of three men, including an Indonesian and a Syrian, in connection with a reported terrorist plot targeting a tourist hotspot in Kuala Lumpur as well as national and foreign interests inside Malaysia.

A unit of the Royal Malaysia Police’s counter-terrorism special branch carried out the arrests Thursday night, Deputy Inspector General of Police Noor Rashid Ibrahim said in a statement.

The operation “resulted from information obtained from suspects already detained, who revealed that plans were being formed to attack assets of importance to the country, western interests and public areas,” he said.

“The investigation is ongoing to confirm whether the trio is involved in planning to mount attacks in Malaysia,” Noor Rashid added.

The three were being investigated for possible terrorism-related offenses and were booked under the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act of 2012 (SOSMA), according to his statement.

“Police are exercising continued vigilance in light of these developments to ensure the safety and interests of the nation are preserved. Security has been heightened at strategic places and public areas.”

The suspects ranged in age from 30 to 51 years old, and one was a frequent visitor to Yemen who had arrived in Malaysia a few days ago, the statement noted.

Police did not release their names, but the state-run Bernama news agency quoted Noor Rashid as saying that the three included a Malaysian, Syrian and Indonesian.

Embassy alerts

The arrests followed warnings issued on Thursday by the American and Australian embassies alerting their citizens to avoid Jalan Alor, a food street in central K.L. that is popular with foreign tourists and Malaysians.

The advisory from the U.S. Embassy said it had received credible information about a threat, and urged Americans to stay away from Jalan Alor and a shopping district that surrounds it.

According to the New Straits Times, the suspects were picked up near Jalan Alor around 6 p.m. Thursday.

"Bukit Aman [the counter-terrorism special branch] has contacted the embassies of the United States and Australia on the security level at that particular location relating to the possibility of terrorist attacks taking place," Noor Rashid told Bernama on Friday.

"I have directed my personnel to be on duty at that particular location to monitor any suspicious activities," he said.

The arrests come amid warnings by Malaysian authorities of a national security threat from efforts by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group to radicalize and recruit local youths.

Officials have also warned about a threat posed by Malaysian jihadists mounting terrorist plots after returning home from combat tours in Iraq or Syria, where IS operates.

According to figures provided by Bukit Aman, more than 60 Malaysians, including 10 women, have traveled to Syria in support of IS.

Altogether 121 Malaysians, including 23 women, have been arrested at home on suspicion of links to the group, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, the special branch’s deputy chief, told BenarNews earlier this month.

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