Malaysian police arrest 5 Filipinos for IS links
KUALA LUMPUR—Seven people, including five Filipinos, have been arrested by Malaysian police for suspected links to the Islamic State (IS) militant group.
In a statement, Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar said the arrests were made during an operation in Sabah, on the island of Borneo, and at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) from last Wednesday to Sunday.
In Manila, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Sunday said it was validating the report on the arrest of five Filipinos by the Malaysian police.
“We are verifying the report with our embassy in Kuala Lumpur,” DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said in a text message to the Inquirer.
Khalid said the first arrest was made on a 27-year-old Filipino with permanent residency status and an 18-year-old Filipino in Kota Kinabalu on Wednesday.
“The Filipino suspect with permanent residency status is believed to have secured funds for Malaysian fugitives, Dr. Mahmud Ahmad and Mohamad Joraimee Awang Raimee, two Malaysians who had joined up with IS in the southern Philippines,” he said.
One Filipino man was planning to travel to Syria to join up with IS there, while another was an IS militant who have pledged allegiance to Isnilon Hapilon, the Philippines’ most-wanted man and leader of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group, Khalid said.
Last June, militants who claimed to be fighting for Islamic State said in a video that they had chosen Hapilon to lead their Southeast Asian faction.
The other arrests involved a 53-year-old ferry ticket seller and a laborer (both Filipinos with permanent residency status) and the 31-year-old female immigration officer in Sandakan on Thursday.
“The two suspects with permanent residency status are believed to have assisted in the transit of three Indonesian IS militants to southern Philippines through Sabah,” Khalid said.
Police also arrested a Malaysian woman, who worked as an airport immigration official, on suspicion of helping individuals without valid travel documents, including Malaysian and Indonesian IS followers, to enter and exit the Philippines through Sabah.
The sixth suspect—a 36-year-old Filipino man—was detained in Sandakan on Thursday with plans to join IS in Syria.
The seventh suspect, a 36-year-old Malaysian man who was a former medical assistant at Jerantut hospital, was arrested at KLIA on Sunday after being deported from Turkey, Khalid said.
The suspect had traveled to Istanbul in October with plans to enter Syria with the help of Indonesian militant Abu Fateh from Sulawesi, Indonesia. He was caught by Turkish authorities on Jan. 16, along with Indonesian militants, and was deported.
Muslim-majority Malaysia arrested more than 250 people between 2013 and 2016, over suspected militant activities linked to IS. —WITH REPORTS FROM JOCELYN R. UY, THE STAR AND ASIA NEWS NETWORK
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