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Housewife among 15 suspected terrorists detained as Malaysian police foil plan to ram car into voters on May 9 election day

The woman was also said to be planning to crash into non-Muslim places of worship with a car loaded with a tank of cooking gas

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 June, 2018, 6:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 June, 2018, 8:38pm

Malaysian police said Friday they have detained 15 suspected Islamic State militants, including a woman who allegedly planned to run down non-Muslim voters with her car during the May 9 general election.

The 51-year-old housewife was arrested in Puchong, in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, on polling day after police got wind of her plan to ram a car into non-Muslim voters at polling stations, Inspector General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said in a statement.

The woman was also said to be planning to crash into non-Muslim places of worship with a car loaded with a tank of cooking gas.

In other actions, on April 20 police picked up a 17-year-old high school student about an hour after he uploaded a video to IS-linked social media in which he allegedly threatened to firebomb Christian churches, Hindu temples and entertainment premises.

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Fuzi said the teenager had filmed his targets, made six Molotov cocktails and tested one in a field outside Kuala Lumpur.

On April 20 and 23, police also detained two of four suspects on a wanted list for allegedly plotting to attack non-Muslim places of worship and attempting to kidnap and murder police officers. The other two suspects are still at large.

Fuzi said seven people were taken into custody in April in Sabah state in northern Borneo for allegedly playing a role in procuring firearms to fight a “holy war” in Marawi City in the southern Philippines.

Philippine government troops battled IS-inspired militants for months last year after the militants seized parts of the predominantly Muslim city, leaving nearly 1,000 militants dead and the city, including its commercial centre, devastated.

Of the seven people aged 22 to 49, one was a Malaysian and the rest Philippine citizens, two of whom held permanent resident status in Malaysia.

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Other foreigners detained included a husband and wife in their 20s from North Africa who were on a wanted list in their home country allegedly for being IS members.

Police said they entered Malaysia on March 16 in transit to a third country, detained April 2 in Gombak in Selangor state and deported home on April 14.

Police also detained a 41-year-old Bangladeshi who operates a restaurant in central Kuala Lumpur, over his links to firearm smuggling for international terrorists. He was said to be on Interpol’s red notice.

The 15th suspect detained over recent months was a 33-year-old Malaysian taken into custody March 27 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport after being deported from Turkey, where he was arrested January 31 on suspicion of trying to sneak into Syria to join Islamic State.

Malaysia has been battling IS influence since 2013 as many Malaysians are known to have gone to Syria to fight for the militant group, and even die as suicide bombers.

At home, police have arrested several hundred IS members and supporters over the years, crippling plans to carry out terrorist attacks.

So far there has been only one known successful bomb plot carried out by IS elements. In 2016, a grenade attack targeted a pub in Puchong, in which a handful of people suffered minor injuries. But no one was killed.