End of the road: Bukit Aman anti-terror officers arresting the butcher in Temerloh (above) before going after the student in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: The Star/ Asia News Network
KUALA LUMPUR - For months, the three men laid low, going about their daily routine while waiting for the signal to attack to come from Syria.
When at last the instruction came from notorious Islamic State (IS) militant Mohamad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi at the end of July, the men quickly started gathering arms and putting together a chilling plan.
They were going to attack on the eve of National Day when the rest of their countrymen were celebrating what it meant to be Malaysians and among their targets are a temple in Batu Caves, the Kajang police headquarters and various entertainment outlets.
The men were in the last phase of their plans - even going to the extent of monitoring their targets - when the Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division moved in on them.
Anti-terror officers detained the men - a 20-year-old contractor, a 27-year-old butcher and a college student, also 20 - in Selangor, Pahang and Kuala Lumpur between Aug 27 and 29.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said all the planning and logistics had been masterminded by Mohamad Wanndy, who appeared to be pulling the strings among the network of IS militants here.
"They were taking orders from him," he said in a statement yesterday.
Sources revealed that the contractor was arrested on Aug 27 when officers raided his home in Sungai Merab Luar in Kajang.
"We seized a K75 grenade and a CZ 2075 RAMI pistol along with 24 .9mm bullets. We believe he obtained the weapons from a middleman," said Khalid.
The man was believed to have picked up the weapons from a drop-off location at a cemetery in Damansara at about 9pm in late July.
"It was no doubt arranged by Mohamad Wanndy. Authorities believe that militants from another cell supplied the weapons and placed them at the drop-off point.
"Militants from different cells often do not know each other to reduce the risk of being tracked by the authorities," a source said.
It is learnt that the butcher was detained in Kampung Paya Kecil in Temerloh, Pahang, while the college student was picked up from his home in AU3, Keramat, in the city.
"The other two did not have weapons with them but authorities believe they were waiting for supplies," added the source.
Authorities are also not ruling out the possibility that one of the men could have been tasked to pick up a ready-made Improvised Explosive Device.
"Some of their targets were police patrol units in Kajang. The authorities believe that Mohamad Wanndy really wanted his cell members to carry out a big attack on the eve of National Day.
Malaysia's National Day Parade kicks off Photo Source: The Star/ANN: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and other VIPs are seen here on the main stage during the National Day celebration at Dataran Merdeka.
"He wanted to make a big impact as he was not satisfied with the scale of the Movida bomb attack," a source said.
It is learnt that the three men had been communicating with Mohamad Wanndy since January but the order to attack was only given on July 30 once they had gotten hold of the explosives and ammunition.
It is also believed that they were planning to escape to Thailand before eventually making their way to Syria, where they are expected to meet Mohamad Wanndy.
With the grenade seized in this latest case, this brings to seven the number of those still unaccounted for after the Movida attack on June 28.
The first known IS attack on home soil injured several people after a grenade was thrown at the Movida Restaurant in Puchong.
Four people are expected to be charged in various courts in Johor for abetting in the bombing of Movida today.
With the latest arrest, the number of militants detained since 2013 has risen to 239 and the attacks foiled to date, 13.
When police detained nine IS militants in early August, three of them - two were involved in the Movida bombing - had also been taking orders from Mohamad Wanndy.
They were ordered to launch another attack against an entertainment outlet in Johor.
Mohamad Wanndy has emerged to be the main influence on the IS militant network in the country, with people caught following his orders and raising funds.
By Farik Zolkepli The Star/Asia News Network