KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police have arrested 10 terror suspects, some of whom were planning to launch smoke bombs at “vice outlets” in Melaka and Penang.
The terror suspects - who are members of two terror cells - were arrested in Selangor, Pahang, Johor, Terengganu, Melaka, Kelantan and Penang between Aug 11 and 31, according to a statement by the Malaysia's Inspector-General of Police Mohd Fuzi Harun on Friday (Sep 14).
Five of the suspects arrested, aged between 39 and 53, belong to a terror cell known as Asoib or Youths From the East in the states of Selangor, Pahang, Johor and Terengganu.
They had planned to team up with another terror group in a Middle Eastern country to launch attacks on a bordering nation, Fuzi said. The plan was for them to be supplied with weapons by the terror group when they arrived, Fuzi added.
“A member of Asoib had already left for the Middle Eastern country in question to prepare and organise the operations for the attack,” Fuzi said.
An intelligence source told Channel NewsAsia that the Asoib cell has been in Malaysia for almost a year and has 100 members.
The five Asoib suspects arrested had planned to go to the Middle East last month, the source added.
Fuzi said that the Asoib group had misinterpreted the hadith (the recorded teachings of Prophet Muhammad) on Imam Mahdi, an Islamic redeemer who is believed will appear before the end of the world.
“They (Asoib) believe Imam Mahdi will appear in Mecca this year. This group will then team up with Imam Mahdi’s 'army' to fight secular countries and fight 'the evil person'," said Fuzi.
No details were given on which countries they planned to attack.
A Middle Eastern source told Channel NewsAsia that the men had planned to head to Yemen before proceeding to Saudi Arabia.
AR RAYAH TERROR CELL PLOTTED ATTACKS IN MELAKA AND PENANG
The other five men arrested, including a foreigner who worked in the restaurant business, belonged to another terror cell known as Ar Rayah. The men, aged between 18 and 50, were arrested in Melaka, Kelantan and Penang.
“The main suspect was planning to launch smoke bomb attacks in vice outlets around Melaka. Five smoke bombs were seized,” said Fuzi.
The terror cell also planned similar attacks in Penang, he added.
“The eye-catching one is the arrest of a 50-year-old foreigner ... This suspect is a member of a terrorist group in Southeast Asia and was promoting the struggle of his organisation to members on the Ar Rayah WhatsApp chat group,” said Fuzi.
“He (the suspect) also played a role in influencing members of the Ar Rayah group to donate money to this other terror group to buy weapons and ammunition,” Fuzi added.
The intelligence source told Channel NewsAsia that the foreigner belonged to a militant group in southern Thailand.