KUCHING: Three individuals suspected to have links with Ansar Al-Shariah Al-Tunisia were arrested by the Counter-Terrorism Division of the Special Branch in Serian near here recently.
The suspects consist of two Malaysians – a man and a woman – and an Egyptian man, all aged between 20 and 54.
Bernama quoted Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun saying in a statement from Kuala Lumpur yesterday that the trio were among nine individuals detained in several operations carried out by the Counter-Terrorism Division in the Klang Valley and Sarawak, between Feb 2 and 9, and all nine are suspected to be involved in terrorist groups.
The IGP said the operations were carried out following information obtained from several foreign intelligence agencies over the presence of several foreign terrorist fighters suspected of being members of Ansar Al-Shariah Al-Tunisia, a part of the al-Qaeda terrorist group.
“As the presence of these foreigners in Malaysia could threaten the national security, the suspects had been deported to their home countries under Section 9 (1) of the Immigration Act 1959/63, on March 5,” said Mohamad Fuzi, adding that these suspects comprising six Egyptians and one Tunisian, would also be blacklisted from entering Malaysia for life.
The IGP said the five Egyptians admitted that they were members the Muslim Brotherhood Al Ikhwanul Muslimin, having acted as facilitators in providing lodging, transportation and employment to, as well as also helping to purchase airline tickets for the two Ansar Al-Shariah Al-Tunisia members.
The ‘two members’ referred to the Egyptian and the Tunisian, aged 21 and 22, who were arrested in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 4.
Two days earlier, police detained six suspects in several raids – the three in Serian, an Egyptian man, 42, in Setapak (Kuala Lumpur); and two Egyptian students, aged 24 and 28, in Bukit Bintang and Seri Kembangan, Selangor.
On Feb 9, police detained a 50-year-old Egyptian man, who was an Arabic teacher, in Ampang, Selangor.
Mohamad Fuzi said those arrested during the operations last month were investigated in accordance with the procedure under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Act 747).
The investigations by Special Branch’s Counter-Terrorism Division also revealed that foreign terrorist fighters had been trying to make Malaysia a ‘safe haven’ – a transit point and a logistics hub, by sneaking into the country through various means.
“The presence of foreign terrorists in the country should be taken seriously, especially following the defeat of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq,” said Mohamad Fuzi.
Their presence, he added, could also lead Malaysia into becoming ‘the launch pad’ for terror attacks in the country, or even the region.