Two Syria-bound Malaysians arrested in Turkey: police

KUALA LUMPUR - Two Malaysians were arrested by Turkish authorities on their way to Syria, where they were planning to join up with the Islamic State militant group, Malaysian police said on Friday.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement the two suspects, a factory technician and a welder, had been recruited by Muhammad Wanndy Muhammad Jedi, a known Malaysian Islamic State member in Syria.

"Muhammad Wanndy coordinated plans for the two suspects to travel to Syria and contributed funds for their flight," Khalid said.

Muhammad Wanndy had claimed responsibility for a grenade attack on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur in June and issued death threats against top Malaysian police and government officials.

Khalid said the Syria-bound suspects had eluded local authorities by boarding a train to Bangkok, Thailand, before flying to Istanbul, where they were arrested by Turkish authorities on Oct 28. They were deported and arrested by Malaysian police on Oct 30.

Muslim-majority Malaysia has been on high alert since Islamic State-linked militants carried out an armed attack in the capital of neighbouring Indonesia in January.

Police have arrested more than 100 suspected Islamic State sympathisers this year and stepped up security in case fighters return from the Middle East in the wake of an ongoing offensive in the group's stronghold of Mosul, Iraq.