Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Malaysian police have foiled plans for a wave of attacks by local extremist groups inspired by the exploits of jihadist militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The number two of the anti-terrorism squad Ayob Khan Mydin confirms that 19 suspected militants arrested in the months of April and June were planning to target pubs, clubs and a local brewery of the Danish brand Carlsberg.
The group's main goal was to establish an Islamic caliphate in Southeast Asia, covering Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore; the militants had also planned a trip to Syria to meet with leaders of the Islamic State, and learn the secrets and techniques of battle that allowed jihadists to conquer large parts of Syria and Iraq in recent months.
As AsiaNews recently reported, fundamentalist movements and local Muslim leaders been inspired by the exploits of the Sunni fighters and intend to support the struggle for the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate, which has now been extended also to Asia.
Those arrested by the Kuala Lumpur intelligence agents include two professionals and two housewives. They were only at the initial stages of their plan and were not in possession of any weapons nor techniques for the production of bombs. Seven people have been indicted for terrorist armed struggle and illegal possession of guns. The deputy head of the Anti-terrorism squad adds that they were planning "a campaign of violence and armed struggle" and were also "ready to die as martyrs."
The authorities have also blocked some others at the airport, ready to leave for Syria and Turkey to join the Islamic State militias. All are aged between 20 and 50, and some had begun a fundraising campaign - even on social networking sites - to pay for the ticket and stay, as usual, under the guise of a "humanitarian operations". However, interrogations revealed that those arrested were followers of an "Islamic extremist ideology", which involves the killing of innocent people because they are non-Muslim and attacks on bars and nightclubs, because prohibited.
Malaysia is a nation of over 28 million inhabitants, mostly Sunni Muslims (60%). In general a moderate view of Islam prevails and there have been no serious incidents of violence in recent years. However, there have been minor attacks on and violations of the religious freedom of the minorities, as seen recently following the controversy over the use of the word "Allah" by the Catholic weekly Malaysia Herald. Therefore concerns are growing about a possible escalation of tension in an area considered to be "fertile ground" for militant jihadist movement.