Authorities in Malaysia reportedly detained 15 suspected terrorists — including a student, a housewife, six Malaysians, six Filipinos, and a Bangladeshi restaurant owner — on Friday for allegedly smuggling firearms into the Muslim-majority country and plotting attacks on several non-Muslim places of worship.
According to the Washington Post, National police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun said the Bangladeshi restaurant owner, 41, was believed to be involved in smuggling weapons for terrorists. Meanwhile, the African couple, who are in their early 20s and whose country of origin was not disclosed, were reportedly suspected of having ties to the Islamic State.
The African couple were reportedly detained in April and have been deported.
“Another Malaysian and six Filipinos, aged between 22 and 49, were held in April in Sabah state on Borneo island for being part of a militant cell collecting firearms to wage ‘jihad’ in Marawi city in the Philippines,” the Washington Post reported. The publication noted that “Marawi was the scene of a six-month militant siege last year.”
Harun reportedly said one of the six Malaysians detained is a 17-year-old student and suspected Islamic State member who made six Molotov cocktails that he planned to use against churches and Hindu temples in Kuala Lumpur.
One of the detained Malaysians was a 51-year-old woman who allegedly planned to ram a car into a crowd of non-Muslims at a voting center during the country’s general elections on May 9. “In addition, the suspect also planned to drive into non-Muslim worship places using a car filled with gas cylinders as explosives,” Harun reportedly said.
A senior intelligence source told Channel News Asia that the woman was the “mastermind” of the terror plot and said, “She exhorted her fellow ideological supporters … to reject the democratic system (in Malaysia) and to choose a Caliphate system instead.” The sources reportedly added, “She got the idea of using a car to attack non-Muslims from Islamic State (IS) attacks in France and the UK where terrorists used cars to run over people.”
Last month, a Malaysian court sentenced to death a grandmother from Australia, who said she was “tricked” into carrying 1.1 kilos of crystal methamphetamine, or “ice,” into the country.
Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, 54, was sentenced to death by hanging.