Malaysia arrests seven for suspected links to militant groups

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has arrested six foreigners and one Malaysian for suspected links to militant groups including Islamic State, the police chief said on Sunday.

The Southeast Asian nation has been on high alert since suicide bombers and gunmen linked to Islamic State launched multiple attacks in Jakarta, the capital of neighbouring Indonesia, in January 2016.

A grenade attack on a bar on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, in June last year wounded eight people. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, the first of such attacks on Malaysian soil.

Malaysia has arrested hundreds over the last few years for suspected links to militant groups.

In the latest arrests made between February 21 and February 26, one Malaysian and one Indonesian were detained for planning to launch a large-scale car bomb attack using a "vehicle borne improvised explosive device," before leaving to join IS in Syria, Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement.

The two were part of an Islamic State cell that received instructions from Muhammad Wanndy Muhammad Jedi - a known Malaysian IS fighter in Syria.

One East Asian, with a fake student visa, had connections to an East Asian militant group that sends its members to Malaysia before heading to Syria to join Islamic State, Khalid said.

Four Yemenis arrested were suspected of being part of a Yemeni insurgent group. They were also part of a syndicate forging travel documents.

Police seized multiple international passports and 270,000 ringgit ($60,650) in cash in different currencies from the four.

($1 = 4.4520 ringgit)