KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysian authorities said on Thursday they had arrested 13 Malaysians suspected of having links to Islamic State (IS) and who were planning to leave for Syria.
Police on Monday raided a restaurant in Shah Alam, a suburb 30 minutes from the capital of Kuala Lumpur, after authorities discovered the group, which included women, was making plans to leave Malaysia.
“We have yet to search their house and this is an ongoing investigation,” Ayub Khan Mydin, the police counter-terrorism division’s deputy chief told Reuters.
Malaysia has arrested a total of 36 citizens suspected of militancy since April this year and authorities believe that at least 30 are already in Syria and Iraq, fighting for different groups tied to IS.
In June, the foreign ministry said in a statement that 15 Malaysians were allegedly killed in Syria while participating in activities linked to IS.
Malaysian militants have used Facebook and other social media sites to lure recruits, attracting thousands of followers online.
Recruits now include young women and families, with local news reporting that a family of four had travelled to Syria, while a Malaysian female doctor’s posts on Facebook on her life as a militant’s wife in Syria has attracted wide attention.