Malaysia: Malaysian police said on Saturday said that their counter-terrorism unit has arrested eight men, seven foreigners and one Malaysian, for their suspected links with the Islamic State group.
The operation to arrest the eight suspects spanned Johor, Perlis and Kuala Lumpur. The arrested suspects are current students, former students or part of the teaching staff at an Islamic school in Perlis. The arrests were made after Malaysian police received intelligence tip from foreign intelligence agencies on efforts to spread the Salafi-jihadi ideology through an Islamic studies centre in Southeast Asia.
The suspects had links to a madrasah (Islamic religious school) in Yemen founded by a Salafi-jihadi extremist named Syeikh Muqbil Hadi Al Wadi’I. The school promoted extremist ideas such as permitting murder of non-Muslims and even Muslims who they believed were not following Islam properly. The suspects were also said to believe that secular education was haram, and that men and women were forbidden from wearing trousers.
Malaysian police said the arrests were part of efforts to contain the spread of the Salafi-Jihadi ideology, which they described as a “catalyst” for terrorist groups such as Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and others.
Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said on Saturday: “Initial investigations based on intelligence shared by foreign intelligence agencies showed that the suspects had connections with a madrasah in Dammaj, Yemen, set up by Sheikh Muqbil Hadi Al Wadi, a Salafi Jihadi scholar. The madrasah follows the Salafi Jihadi teachings that permits the killings of non-Muslims and even Muslims who don’t follow their ways. The teachings also labelled the democratic system as “toghut” (un-Islamic).”
The IGP said the first of a series of arrests were made in Perlis of five Europeans and another individual from the American continent aged between 24 and 38. The seventh suspect arrested was a 33-year-old Middle-Eastern man in Kuala Lumpur, who was a teacher of the learning centre, said IGP Mohamad Fuzi. “We believe he has been spreading Salafi Jihadi teachings in the guise of conducting Islamic classes in the Klang Valley,” he said. The last arrest was of a 32-year-old Malaysian man in Muar, Johor. “He was a student at the centre in 2014,” he said.
“This is not the first time terror elements have tried to spread Salafi Jihadi teachings in the country. JI leaders Abdullah Sungkar and Abu Bakar Basyir set up schools in Negri Sembilan and Johor in 1985, but we managed to put a stop to it,” he added.