Three suspected Malaysian international terrorists including a senior militant who allegedly held training at an Abu Sayyaf camp were arrested by the Malaysian Royal Navy in Sandakan on Friday.
The three Malaysians, aged between 29 and 31, were arrested by the Counter-Terrorism Division—Bukit Aman police Special Branch, according to Tan Sri Mohd Bakri Mohd Zinin, Malaysian Police Deputy Inspector General.
Malaysian authorities said one of the terrorist is a senior member of a militant cell that had trained since April 22 at an Abu Sayyaf Group camp in Mindanao.
“The suspect has illegally entered Malaysia on June 11 and was hiding in a house in Sandakan,” a police statement said.
The three suspects are detained at a police cell undergoing investigation for violation of the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act 2012.
Malaysian police authorities, so far have arrested 12 people with alleged involvement to militant groups in Syria and Southern Philippines, among them an East African national, believed to be member of the Somali-based militant group Al-Shabaab which has links to Al-Qaeda, who was nabbed in Selangor.
Last year, the military neutralized Noor Fikrie Kahar, a Malaysian militant and Ibnu Gholob Al Jitli, known also as Sanusi, an Indonesian terrorist, both members of the Jemaah Islamiya. The two were blamed for the series of bombing incidents in Mindanao.
Kahar was shot dead by Davao City policemen while trying to detonate an improvised explosive at the city hotel on December 18, while Sanusi was killed in a shoot-out with Army troopers in Marawi City on November 21.
Malaysian police are investigating reports whether Al-Qaeda linked Somali rebels were trying to established a cell in Malaysia following the arrest of the African militant.
But Abraham Idjirani, spokesman of the Sultanate of Sulu doubted the arrest of the three Malaysians, saying “they are residents of Sabah Malaysia.”
“They are legitimate residents in Sandakan, Malaysia wanting to go to Lahad Datu and other parts of Sabah to explore employment,” Idjirani said.
Idjirani said the Malaysian authorities are trying to create false information to dissuade people from leaving their place for fear that a potential second wave of attacks by the Sultanate Army might erupt.
However, he said he had no information on the veracity of the arrest of the three terrorist by Malaysian Navy.
Idjirani admitted that Agbimuddin Kiram together with his undetermined followers from the Sultanate Army are still in Lahad Datu: “They are moving from one place to another in Sabah.”