KUALA LUMPUR: The Bukit Aman Special Task Force has crippled an Islamic State (IS) militant group trying to start a base in Sabah.
They had intended to use the Sabah base as a transit point for militants in Southeast Asia and South Asia to enter Southern Philippines where they could join other IS militants.
Inspector-general of police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar said four suspects comprising, three foreigners from Bangladesh and one from the Philippines plus a local woman were detained here and in Kota Kinabalu.
The suspects, aged between 27 and 31, were detained by Bukit Aman’s Special Task Force (Operations and Counter-Terrorism) department during separate operations between Jan 13 and Jan 19.
“With the arrest of the suspects, the Special Task Force has crippled a new group of IS militants who had planned to use Sabah as their transit point for militants in Southeast Asia and South Asia to sneak into southern Philippines,” Khalid said in a statement yesterday.
He said the first suspect, a Filipino aged 31, who is believed to be a member of the IS militant group but who worked as a salesman in a shop selling watches in Kota Kinabalu, was detained on Jan 13.
The Filipino was believed to be under the leadership of Mahmud Ahmad (the former Universiti Malaya lecturer who had joined the IS group in Southern Philippines).
“The suspect was believed to have been directed by Mahmud Ahmad to recruit new members from Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Rohingnya from Myanmar before sending them to southern Philippines to join the IS militant group in Marawi City, Mindanao, Philippines,” he said.
According to Khalid, the second suspect was a local woman, aged 27, and detained together with the first suspect in Kota Kinabalu.
“The unemployed woman from Selangor was roped in early last month through social media,” he said adding that the woman took a flight from KLIA on Jan 13, to join the first suspect in Kota Kinabalu.
“The two suspects were planning to move to Sandakan before sneaking into southern Philippines,” he said.
Khalid said two other suspects who were arrested on Jan 19, were from Bangladesh, aged 27 and 28, and worked as salesmen before being recruited by the Filipino.
“The two Bangladeshi suspects are believed to be connected to an IS militant group operating in Bangladesh,” he said.
Khalid said investigations revealed that the group headed by Mahmud had joined the Abu Sayyaf group led by Isnilon Hapilon who has close ties with Abu Bakar Al Baghdadi, the leader of the IS militants in Syria and Iraq.
Apart from Mahmud, two other Malaysians, Darul Islam Sabah’s Amin Bacho and Joraimee Awang had also joined the group that is operating in Marawi City, Mindanao.