Fifteen suspected militants arrested in Malaysia

Suspects include a teenager and a housewife who planned attacks in Kuala Lumpur, police say

This May 25, 2018, photo show a general view of capital city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Malaysia's new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Wednesday, May 30, 2018, the government will set up a trust fund to let the public contribute to easing the country's huge national debt. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
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Malaysia has detained 15 suspected extremists militants including a teenager and a housewife accused of plotting separate "lone wolf" attacks on places of worship around the capital, Kuala Lumpur, police said on Friday.

Police rounded up the 15, including nine foreigners, in several security operations between March 27 and May 9, Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said.

They included a 17-year-old secondary school student suspected of being a member of ISIS, who had allegedly planned "lone wolf" attacks on churches, entertainment centres and Hindu temples around Kuala Lumpur.

The student had made six petrol bombs and tested one of them, Mr Mohamad Fuzi said.

"The suspect had surveyed and filmed the target locations, as well as recorded a video warning of the impending attacks,” he said. The video was uploaded to four ISIS-linked mobile chatrooms shortly before the suspect was arrested.

Another detained suspect was a 51-year-old housewife who was arrested on May 9, the day Malaysia held a general election.

The woman was suspected of planning to drive a car into non-Muslim voters at a polling centre on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

“The suspect had also planned to crash into non-Muslim houses of worship using a car fitted with a gas tank to be used as an explosive,” Mr Mohamad Fuzi said.

Among the others detained was a Bangladeshi restaurant owner suspected of smuggling arms to foreign militants, as well as six Philippine nationals planning to join ISIS-linked gunmen who occupied a Philippine town last year.

A North African married couple, wanted for being ISIS members in their home country, was detained before being deported on April 14, the police chief said. He did not give their nationality.

Muslim-majority Malaysia is on alert for violence, and authorities have arrested hundreds of people over the past few years for suspected links to militants, but it has never suffered a major militant attack.

ISIS took responsibility for a grenade attack on a bar on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur in 2016, when eight people were wounded. It was the first such strike in Malaysia.


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