2 Malaysian civil servants held over IS links

KUALA LUMPUR - Two civil servants, who were among three arrested for suspected links with the Islamic State (IS) group, have been funding Malaysians to head to Syria since the middle of this year.

Described as low-ranking employees, sources said the two men, aged 23 and 28, had been setting aside a portion of their monthly salary for the IS cause.

They were arrested at their homes in Kuala Lumpur by the Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division at about 5pm on Nov 28.

A day earlier, a 38-year-old man who had fought for the IS in Syria was nabbed in Kulim, Kedah.

It is believed that the returning fighter once worked as a house painter and was active in the tabligh (missionary) movement.

The three were detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma).

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the fighter went to Syria on Dec 28 last year and returned to Malaysia on April 8.

"We have been monitoring the suspects for quite some time. We will not let Malaysia be a launching pad or training ground for militancy or terrorism.

"We are doing all we can to catch all those involved with the IS," he said in a statement here yesterday.

The IGP said the police were still hunting for five militants believed to be linked to IS and the Abu Sayyaf terror group based in the Philippines.

Among them are former lecturer Dr Mahmud Ahmad (also known as Abu Handzalah) and sundry shop owner Mohd Najib Husen, both 36, who are believed to be leaders of a militant group that is training and sending members to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Another hunted suspect is former Selayang Municipal Council employee Muhammad Joraimee Awang Raimee, 39, also known as Abu Nur. The two other wanted men are Darul Islam Sabah members Mohd Amin Baco, 31, and Jeknal Adil, 30.

Bukit Aman is believed to be also on the trail of other civil servants said to be conspiring with local militants in support of IS and sources said their involvement was "very serious".

It is learnt the two nabbed civil servants had earlier planned to also go to Syria but were stopped by their families at the last minute.

Since February last year, the Counter Terrorism division has arrested 48 suspected militants.

Twenty-two of them have been charged in court, including three Tandzim Al-Qaeda members led by Yazid Sufaat. He was the first to be arrested under Sosma after the Internal Security Act was abolished.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said national security was under threat because IS manipulated Islamic teachings to justify their goals to overthrow a democratic government by military force.

He said Bukit Aman had identified some 100 Malaysians involved in extremist actions.