Malaysia has arrested two men believed to have links with militant group Islamic State, including one who allegedly walked around its capital armed with a knife aiming to kill Buddhist monks, police said on Monday.
The Muslim-majority Southeast Asian nation has been on high alert since gunmen linked to Islamic State (IS) launched several attacks in Jakarta, the capital of neighbouring Indonesia, in January 2016.
The two suspects were arrested in two separate raids in December and January, on suspicion of planning to carry out acts of violence and promoting IS ideology.
One of them, an Indonesian who was arrested last week, had allegedly scoured a busy district of the capital, Kuala Lumpur, in November, seeking Buddhist monks to kill, in retaliation for violence suffered by Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
“The attempt failed, and police managed to confiscate a knife during the raid,” Mohamad Fuzi Harun, the inspector-general of police, said in a statement.
He added that the suspect had also allegedly communicated with a senior IS leader over WhatsApp, had sought to recruit several other Indonesians and put up an IS flag at the building site where he worked.
The other suspect, a Malaysian teacher at a private religious school, was detained in December on suspicion of planning an attack on entertainment outlets and to rob, kidnap or kill non-Muslims.
The suspect, who had been previously jailed under Malaysia’s anti-terror law, had also maintained contact with former members of known terror groups and promoted IS ideology on his Facebook account to recruit new members, police said.
Malaysia has arrested hundreds of people over the past few years for suspected links to militant groups.
A grenade attack on a bar on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur in June 2016 wounded eight people. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the first such incident on Malaysian soil.