KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s police chief said on Saturday that a suspected militant arrested in a train station in Kuala Lumpur had confessed to planning a suicide attack in the country.
The 28-year-old Malaysian man is believed to be a member of the Islamic State (IS) militant group and was arrested on Friday with weapons and documents related to IS, the police said.
In a statement, Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said the suspect confessed to planning a suicide attack in Malaysia after receiving orders from a foreign IS member in Syria.
“The suspect is also responsible for hanging IS flags at several locations in the states of Terengganu, Perak, Selangor and Johor, in order to warn the government to stop arresting IS members in Malaysia,” Khalid said in the statement.
No further details were given on where and how he was planning the attack.
Malaysia has been on high alert since a bomb and gun attack in neighbouring Indonesia’s capital on Thursday. It has beefed security in public areas and on its borders.
Indonesian police killed one suspected militant and arrested two more in raids across the country on Friday, a day after an attack by Islamic State suicide bombers and gunmen in Jakarta that killed seven people. They announced more arrests on Saturday.
Khalid said three other people suspected of being supporters of Islamic State were also arrested between Jan. 11 and Jan. 15.
The three were arrested at Kuala Lumpur international airport after they returned from Turkey, where they were detained for trying to make their way into Syria to join IS.
The three suspects are aged between 23 and 28. A picture of the arrest released by police appeared to indicate one of the suspects was a woman.
Police said the three were recruited by a known Malaysian IS member named Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, who is based in Syria. Muhammad Wanndy has been linked to a video released last year that showed a man being beheaded there.
Before today’s arrest, Malaysia has detained 145 people since 2013 on suspicion of links with Islamic State.
In September, Malaysian police thwarted a plot to detonate bombs in Kuala Lumpur’s vibrant tourist area of Bukit Bintang. Other recent plots frustrated by Malaysian security forces included plans to raid army camps and seize weapons.
Malaysia’s deputy home minister warned that Southeast Asia faces the threat of Islamic State-inspired attacks designed to ”glamorise terrorism.
Editing by Kim Coghill