By P Prem Kumar
KUALA LUMPUR (AA) – Malaysian security forces have detained 14 people suspected of links to Daesh in a counter-terrorism operation, amid efforts to remain vigilant against threats from the extremist group.
Noor Rashid Ibrahim, deputy inspector-general of police, said in a statement Saturday that the suspects -- 13 men and a woman aged between 22 and 49 -- were taken into custody in six states.
"The 14 suspects were detained between 17th to 20th May 2016. The special operation was following the arrest of 15 IS [Islamic State] suspects between 22nd to 24th March," Ibrahim said, referring to another name used by Daesh.
Eight of the suspects are believed to have transferred money to Daesh coordinators in war-torn Syria and the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the southern Philippines, according to Ibrahim.
The eight are also believed to have ties with Malaysian Daesh recruiter Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, who police earlier identified as having enlisted several citizens to launch an attack in the archipelago.
Three others were detained on suspicion of promoting Daesh ideology, and the remaining two men and the woman for allegedly planning to travel to Syria to join the terrorist group.
Police had raised alert levels to the highest in January following a Deash-linked attack in neighboring Indonesia that killed eight people, including four assailants.
Malaysian intelligence also listed seven potential hotspots for Daesh attack, cautioning the public to avoid the areas.
After the Jakata attack, police nabbed a suspected Daesh-linked militant in Kuala Lumpur, allegedly just hours before a planned nighttime suicide bombing at an entertainment venue in the Bukit Bintang tourist area.
As of December last year, authorities identified some 72 Malaysians -- including 14 women -- as having fled the country to join Daesh movements in Iraq and Syria.