Thursday, 21 August 2014

Malaysia militants aimed to create Islamic state across S-E Asia, including Singapore: Police

The Straits Times, 19 Aug 2014

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysian police have foiled plans for a wave of bombings drawn up by radical Islamic militants inspired by Iraq's extremist jihad group the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a top counter-terrorism official said on Tuesday.

The 19 suspected militants arrested from April-June were formulating plans to bomb pubs, discos and a Malaysian brewery of Danish beer producer Carlsberg, said Mr Ayob Khan Mydin, deputy chief of the Malaysian police counter-terrorism division.

Mr Ayob Khan told AFP the group, all Malaysians, had visions of establishing a hardline South-east Asian Islamic caliphate spanning Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore, and planned to travel to Syria to learn from ISIS.

The plotters included professionals and two housewives.

They were only in the early stages of discussing their plans and did not have heavy weapons or bomb-making knowledge, he said.

Seven have already been charged with offences ranging from promoting terrorism to possession of home-made rifles.

They planned "a campaign of violence and armed struggle and to die as martyrs", Mr Ayob Khan said, adding the police believe there could still be co-plotters at large in Malaysia.

Some of those arrested were apprehended at airports on the way to Turkey and Syria to seek training and other support from ISIS.

ISIS espouses an extreme brand of Islam. It is believed to have thousands of Islamist fighters in Syria and Iraq, some of them Westerners.

It has overrun large swathes of Iraq as it wages a ruthless campaign to establish a Middle Eastern caliphate under conditions akin to those of the religion's early years.

The Malaysian plotters were aged between 20 and 50. Some of the arrests had been previously announced by authorities, but the police had not yet detailed the group's suspected plans and ideology.

Some had begun raising money - including via Facebook - to travel to Syria, typically under the pretext of "humanitarian work", Mr Ayob Khan said.

"From interrogating them, they talk about ISIL ideology, including the killing of innocent people and also Muslims who are not in their group," he said.

Bars and the Carlsberg brewery near Kuala Lumpur were apparently targeted because alcohol consumption is forbidden by Islam, he added.

Mr Ayob Khan said the suspects also had hoped to create networks with regional and global ISIL cells.

He said police believe up to 40 Malaysians have gone to Syria to join the civil war there.

Muslim-majority Malaysia practises a moderate brand of Islam and has not seen any notable terror attacks in recent years.

But concern has risen in the multi-faith nation over growing hardline Islamic views and the country's potential as a militant breeding ground.

According to local media reports, 26-year-old Malaysian factory worker Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki blew up 25 elite Iraqi soldiers in a suicide car-bomb attack there in May.

Malaysia has previously has been home to several suspected key figures in groups such as al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, a South-east Asia-based organisation blamed for the deadly 2002 Bali bombings and numerous other attacks.

Malaysian militants 'bought bomb material for brewery attack'
The Straits Times, 22 Aug 2014

KUALA LUMPUR - Suspected Malaysian militants loyal to the extremist ISIS movement bought bomb-making material ahead of a proposed attack on a Carlsberg brewery near the capital Kuala Lumpur, a top anti-terrorism official said.

The plan, which the official said was at a "discussion" stage, was the first time that South-east Asian militants inspired by the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had sought to launch a major attack at home.

Mr Ayob Khan Mydin, the Malaysian police counter-terrorism division's deputy chief, told Reuters that the group of 19 suspected militants had acquired aluminium powder, which is often used as an ingredient in bombs.

"In terms of ideology and intention, it was very clear," Mr Ayob Khan said in an interview. "It would have been carried out."

The group, seven of whom have been charged under anti-terrorism and weapons laws, had discussed bombing the Danish beer-maker's factory in Petaling Jaya as well as targets such as pubs, Mr Ayob Khan said.

He added that 12 of the suspects had to be released due to lack of evidence tying them to specific plans for an attack or to join ISIS.

Meanwhile, a Malaysian died and two others were injured in Syria recently when a tank driven by soldiers of President Bashar al-Assad attacked them near the city of Hama, the Utusan Malaysia newspaper reported yesterday.

The dead man was 52-year-old Mat Soh, with police saying they had no details of who he was.

The paper picked up the report about the three Malaysians from the social media accounts of other Malaysians who are with militant groups in Iraq and Syria.

Mat Soh was apparently the third Malaysian to die in the Iraq-Syria region.

Among those who have died is Malaysia's first suicide bomber, 26-year-old factory worker Ahmad Tarmimi.

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