ISIS in Malaysia planning heists, abductions

A civil servant with suspected links to ISIS being arrested in Malaysia last year. The group of 12 men nabbed at the weekend had plans to attack government buildings in Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur.

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) operatives in Malaysia are now planning ransom kidnappings and bank heists in a bid to fund their militant activities, Malaysian police said yesterday.

According to Kuala Lumpur police chief Tajuddin Md Isa, local militants recruited by the Islamic group that has been advancing through Syria and Iraq, are targeting business centres that have a high number of expatriates and government offices in Putrajaya.

The capital city's top cop also warned that the militants were planning raids on police and army camps to bolster their armoury.

"A study showed that the (ISIS) struggle has passed the first level of recruitment and training of new members, and is now entering the second level (of kidnapping and robbery)," he was quoted as saying by news agency Bernama.

Mr Tajuddin added that the police have already moved to tighten security around potential ISIS targets.

A dozen people were arrested last month on suspicion of planning bomb attacks on strategic targets in the Klang Valley, adding to the 95 already detained over the past two years.

Reports said the federal police's counter-terrorism division detained 11 men at the foothills of Hutan Lipur Gunung Nuang in Hulu Langat, Selangor state, while they were mixing chemicals to make improvised explosive devices.

A senior leader of the cell was later arrested at his home.

Six of the 12 were charged in court yesterday with plotting terror attacks using the materials they were mixing, said to be enough to cause a blast with a 500m radius.

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said after the arrests that Malaysia will use all measures at its disposal, including intercepting phone messages, as it tries to nail down the remaining members of the terror cell.

The country has also recently passed the Prevention of Terror Act which allows for indefinite detention without trial of terror suspects.

Should any of those arrested be released, the authorities are now empowered to attach electronic tracking devices to track their movements under the new law.

The police had said last week that 11 Malaysians, including six suicide bombers, involved with ISIS have died.

So far, 80 Malaysians are known to have joined ISIS, including women who were being exploited as "sex slaves", counter-terror chief Ayub Khan Mydin Pitchay was reported as saying by Bernama.

This article was first published on May 21, 2015.
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