KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian police said on Wednesday they had arrested three local supporters of the Islamic State militant group who had allegedly been planning several attacks in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, ahead of independence day celebrations.
The three men, detained in a three-day police operation on August 27-29, had allegedly received instructions from Malaysian Islamic State fighter Muhammad Wanndy Muhammad Jedi to attack an entertainment center, a Hindu temple and a police station on Tuesday on the eve of independence day celebrations.
“All three suspects were planning to leave for Syria to join the Islamic State terrorist group ... after successfully carrying out the attacks,” Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement.
Police said they had seized a grenade and a handgun with 24 bullets from one of the suspects, who works as a lorry driver. The two others worked as a butcher and a drinks seller.
Wanndy is a Malaysian known to be fighting with Islamic State in Syria and is seen as the man responsible for ordering a grenade attack in June on a bar on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, the Islamist group’s first successful assault in Malaysia. [nL4N19Q2CN]
Police arrested nine people believed to have Islamic State links in the aftermath of the grenade attack.
Earlier this month, Malaysia revoked the passports of 68 Malaysians who have been identified as leaving the country to join Islamic State. Police intelligence reportedly said in March that 18 Malaysians had been killed while fighting with the group in Syria, and that seven others were killed carrying out suicide attacks for the group.
There have not been any reports of Malaysian Islamic State fighters returning home.
Authorities in Muslim-majority Malaysia have been on high alert since Islamic State-linked militants carried out an armed attack in the capital of neighboring Indonesia in January.
In June, Islamic State released a video of its fighters from Southeast Asia calling on its supporters to unify under one umbrella group and launch attacks in the region.
A total of 230 people, including 200 Malaysians, were arrested between 2013 and early August this year for involvement in militant activities linked to Islamic State.
Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; Editing by Michael Perry