Islamic State terrorists hurled a grenade into Kuala Lumpur’s Cuban-themed nightclub Movida on June 28, injuring eight. Officials have confirmed it is the first successful ISIS attack in Malaysian history.
The club was broadcasting a Euro Cup soccer match — occurring in the early morning hours in Malaysia — when the grenade struck. Movida describes itself on its website as “a kitchen + bar + club lounge featuring the sounds of world music and serving up the Best of Italian, Mediterranean, Cuban, Spanish Cuisine & More…” and cites Cuban slang as the influence for its name.
CNN notes that Malaysian police had dismissed jihad as a possibility for the attack, prompting Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, an ISIS jihadist in Syria, to correct them on Facebook. Another jihadist, Abu Hamzah Al-Fateh, reportedly also posted a confirmation on social media in which he asserted that the reason for the attack was that “the nightclub of not respecting the month of Ramadan by carrying out immoral activities.” He added that Muslims were not the target of the attack and should avoid “infidel” locales.
This is the second such attack on a Caribbean Latino-themed nightclub by Islamic State jihadis this summer. In mid-June, Omar Mateen, an ISIS sympathizer, opened fire on Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 mostly-Puerto Rican patrons. The club was hosting a Latin night on the day of the attack.
Police have confirmed that Wanndy organized the Movida attack from Syria, making it an official ISIS act, not a jihadi plot by Islamic State “fans” radicalized though Internet propaganda.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed that the two men who organized the attack and 13 others have been arrested. “They were receiving instructions directly from known IS militant Muhamad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi from Syria. The club was attacked as it was deemed an unIslamic establishment,” he clarified. Among those arrested were also two policemen with ties to ISIS, with at least one of them involved in organizing robberies to fund Islamic State cells nationwide.
He added that ISIS was planning more attacks in Malaysia, though the group itself released propaganda confirming that shortly after his statements. In a new video, an Islamic State fighter, speaking in Bahasa Malaysia and Arabic, promises that “we will come to you with a military force that you cannot overcome.”
The Islamic State has repeatedly targeted Malaysia, long established as a stronghold for the rival jihadist organization al-Qaeda, in its propaganda. Al-Qaeda members met in Kuala Lumpur in 2000 to organize the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak addressed the Islamic State threat this week in the context of attacks on Saudi Arabia, France, Turkey, and Bangladesh. “The fear (of Islamophobia), especially in the Western world, is the result of a misunderstanding of the true teachings of Islam,” he said in a speech. “Sometimes we have to blame certain groups of Muslims themselves for committing negative acts which do not represent Islam, such as suicide bombers, militants and extremists.”