Hunt on for IS bomb plotter

FAISAL ASYRAF AND ALIZA SHAH


KUALA LUMPUR: Counterterrorism operatives are hot on the trail of an Islamic State (IS) militant who was arranging for a large-scale vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attack here.

Sources said the man was the intermediary between the Malaysian IS leader in Syria, Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, and two men who were arrested recently.

The man, they said, would be the one who prepared the attack, and the duo, a Malaysian and an Indonesian, would carry it out.

A source said the Malaysian and Indonesian were also in contact with Wanndy and had received their instructions, but the latter had yet to decide what the target of the VBIED would be.

“Their planning was still at the initial stage, but they had received instructions from Wanndy to launch an attack using VBIED, though he had yet to decide on the target.

“Wanndy used a cut-out (intermediary) who is still at large... the man is the one who would prepare the VBIED while the other two were the ones who would execute the plan,” the source said.

The arrested duo were among seven detained by police in the country recently.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, in a statement yesterday, identified the Indonesian as a 28-year-old who worked as a farmer and the Malaysian as a 41-year-old factory technician.

He said they were both arrested in Kepong here on Feb 21.

“After carrying out the attack, the duo were to flee the country and join IS in Syria,” he said, adding that the Indonesian suspect had been deported by Turkish authorities in June last year after he was arrested trying to enter Syria from the country.

Khalid said the others arrested were an East Asian and four Yemeni men.

He said the East Asian, 37, was arrested in Petaling Jaya, and had entered the country in 2011 using forged travel documents and a fake student visa.

Khalid said the man was believed to a member of a militant group, which had in the past used the country as a transit point.

Although he did not name the group, it is learnt that the man was an member of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a militant group founded by Uighurs from western China.

Members of the group using the same modus operandi had previously been arrested and deported to China and it is understood the same would be arranged for this man.

On Feb 26, police arrested four Yemeni men in Serdang and Cyberjaya. Khalid said they were part of a rebel group in Yemen who were involved in a syndicate forging travel documents.

He said the proceeds from the sale of forged documents would eventually have been funnelled back to Yemen to fund the rebel group’s fight.

Khalid said when police arrested the men, they seized RM270,000 cash in various currencies and several foreign passports.

Sources said the men, aged between 28 and 33, were Houthis, a Shia group.

A source said police were also investigating if the group had been intending to cause chaos during the state visit of Saudi Arabian ruler King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud last month.