Bangkok: Malaysia police have arrested an Islamic State militant suspected of directing a foiled, lone-wolf attack on several popular entertainment venues in Kuala Lumpur. The suicide bomb strike was planned as a follow-up to Thursday's terror attacks in Jakarta, police said.
The arrests on Saturday of the 28-year-old suspect in an eastern suburb of Kuala Lumpur and three other people earlier at Kuala Lumpur International Airport have escalated concerns that Islamic State militants in the Middle East are taking a direct hand in planned attacks in south-east Asia.
Malaysia's police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the foiled attack was ordered by "someone in Syria". He declined to elaborate.
Police said the unnamed suspected lone wolf, an insurance salesman, admitted during interrogation he expected to be killed during the planned attacks.
He was arrested in the possession of a knife and Islamic State documents. Police said the man also admitted hanging Islamic State flags in several Malaysian states.
Police also named a Malaysian Islamic fanatic who travelled to Syria with his wife in 2014 as being the recruiter of three Malaysians arrested after attempting to travel to the Middle East to join Islamic State. The recruiter Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, 25, was seen in a video of a beheading in Syria last year.
Wanndy Mohamed and Bahrun Naim - accused of directing the terror strike in Jakarta - are members of an Islamic State unit made up of fighters mainly from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines called Katibah Nusantara (Malay Archipelago Combat Unit).
Wanndy Mohamed, from a small coastal town in Malacca state, said on a Facebook posting last year that he would never "turn away" from fighting for Islamic State.
Malaysian counter-terrorism police released details of the beheading video.
"The video version of this punishment is for those who betrayed Islam," Wanndy Mohamed said. "It's a lesson for everyone."
He also posted he was not afraid to die for Islamic State despite the fact that his wife had just given birth to a baby girl.
He criticised other Malaysians who had returned from the Middle East after serving with Islamic State.
"These Malaysians come up with thousands of excuses to avoid dying as a martyr. When they return to Malaysia, they are screaming their lungs out for jihad, but, ironically, they fled from the battle," he said.