The Bukit Aman counter-terrorism unit has identified several individuals based in Malaysia believed to be operatives of the Islamic State (IS) group and trained as suicide bombers.
English daily The New Straits Times today quoted Bukit Aman's Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division principal assistant director Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay as saying that police are currently working based on the latest intelligence that suggested these suicide bombers are ready to die for the IS cause.
The aspiring suicide bombers, he reportedly said, were as radicalised as the eight IS Malaysians who had returned from Syria to launch terror attacks for the group here.
According to the report, Ayob said all eight who are under police custody remained radicalised.
He said the eight, all with battlefield experience, had tried to enter the country through normal and illegal routes, before being arrested by the police, who had monitored their movements.
Out of the eight, he said two of them had planned to attack Putrajaya while another planned to attack the Freemason Lodge in Bukit Jalil with improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
One of them, an 18-year-old, had spent hundreds of hours fighting the Syrian regime.
Following Syria’s crackdown on the terror group, Ayob also said he expected more IS members to begin returning home, including to Malaysia.
Expertise to launch large-scale attacks
According to the NST, Ayob’s projection was supported by several international security experts who spoke at the two-day International Association of Counter-terrorism and Security Professionals Asean Security Symposium to discuss IS threats in the region.
“We are extremely concerned... that these detainees possess the expertise to launch large-scale attacks, (and) have established networking groups at the regional and global stage, driven by respected leaders.
“This will be a boon for IS elements, whether in Malaysia or Indonesia, which have limited capability to produce large-scale IEDs and restricted working relationships with foreign militant organisations,” he was quoted as saying.
Ayob said this concern was heightened by the gradual release of convicted Indonesian terrorists from the notorious Jemaah Islamiyah group, with links to IS operatives in Syria.
This, he said, was on top of the call made by Syria-based Indonesian militant leader Bahrun Shah to IS sympathisers in the region.
“He (Bahrun) has the funds, and this is dangerous as it means that he is able to initiate large-scale attacks. If you look at previous cases, such as the Bali bombings, al-Qaeda sent money to Malaysia from Afghanistan to finance it.
“If funds start to come from Syria, in the near future, they will launch a big attack,” he said, adding that the police are working round-the-clock to cut their funds.
Since 2013, it was reported that counter-terrorism operatives had foiled 13 terror attack attempts, seven of which were already at phase two, in which they were caught with chemicals, ammunition and other bomb-making materials.
Seven of the plots, Ayob revealed, were supposed to be carried out remotely from Syria based mostly on the instructions of Syrian-based Malaysian IS de facto leader Muhammad Wanndy Muhammed Jedi.
Among their other targets were entertainment outlets, vice dens, alcohol-producing factories, government premises, security installations and Western-type premises.