Malaysia foils plot by 4 men to 'avenge' fireman's death by targeting VIPs, houses of worship

Malaysia's Counter Terrorism Division detaining the mastermind of the cell in Terengganu on May 5.
PHOTO: Malaysia's Counter Terrorism Division

KUALA LUMPUR - Four suspected militants have been detained in Malaysia in connection with terror and assassination plots to "avenge" the death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim.

The four men were targeting several VIPs and non-Muslim houses of worship, said police chief Abdul Hamid Bador, adding that the hunt is on for other members of the plot who are still at large.

The death of fireman Muhammad Adib has become a rallying call for some Malaysian Muslims, including those in opposition parties, who feel his death at the carpark of a Hindu temple has not been addressed by the government.

Mr Muhammad Adib was critically injured in the early morning of Nov 27, 2018, after he and his team members responded to an emergency call at the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Subang Jaya, where a riot was taking place.

The fireman was taken to a hospital and later transferred to the National Heart Institute for further treatment, but he died on Dec 17.

No one has been charged for the death, and there is an ongoing inquest into the death.

Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid said the suspects - a Malaysian, two Rohingya and an Indonesian - were detained in a special operation by the Counter Terrorism Division (E8) in Terengganu and the Klang Valley between May 5 and May 7.

"Officers from E8 detected this 'wolf pack' Islamic State cell who planned to assassinate four VIPs and launch large-scale attacks on non-Muslims houses of worship, as well as entertainment centres in the Klang Valley," Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid said.

"They were planning to carry out their plans in the first week of Ramadan to 'avenge' the death of Muhammad Adib," he told a news conference at police headquarters on Monday (May 13).

They gave their reasons for targeting the VIPs as those who supposedly failed to "protect the sanctity of Islam", the police chief added.

The first arrest was made on a 34-year-old Malaysian man in Kuala Berang, Terengganu, on May 5.

"The suspect is the leader of the terror cell and the mastermind behind their plans to assassinate and bomb their targets. We also seized six IEDs (improvised explosive devices) that had been obtained from a neighbouring country, along with a CZ9mm pistol and 15 bullets," Mr Abdul Hamid said.

The second arrest in Kuala Lumpur on May 7 was on a 20-year-old Rohingya man, who also has a UNHCR (the United Nations Refugee Agency) refugee card, he added.

"He admitted to joining the cell and supporting the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army terror group. He also planned to attack the Myanmar Embassy in the city and wanted to go to Rakhine to continue his false jihad," Mr Abdul Hamid said.

The remaining two suspects were detained in Subang Jaya and Old Klang Road on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur on May 7.

Police are still tracking down three other members of the terror cell who are still at large.