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Malaysian police: Planned militant attacks not ISIS but similar ideology

By Chan Kok Leong, for CNN
updated 3:01 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Police say the planned attacks targeted Malaysia's administrative capital Putrajaya.
Police say the planned attacks targeted Malaysia's administrative capital Putrajaya.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police: 19 people arrested on terrorism charges in Malaysia not linked to ISIS
  • They share a similar ideology with ISIS and other terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, police said
  • The group, which has not been named, planned to attack bars around Malaysia's administrative capital

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (CNN) -- There are no immediate links between the 19 people arrested on suspicion of planning terror attacks on Malaysia's administrative capital, Putrajaya, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), police said Wednesday.

"These individuals, however, share a similar ideology with ISIS and other terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and Jemaah Islamiah. They come from a Salafi-Jihadist movement," the Asian country's counter terrorism deputy chief, Ayob Khan Pitchay Mydin, told CNN.

Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah (JI) was behind the 2002 Bali bombings, which left 202 people dead and other bombings in South East Asia, while Boko Haram is the Islamist militant group waging a campaign of terror in Nigeria.

However, Malaysian police believe the individuals concerned were making their way to join ISIS in its war in Syria after investigating their travel plans.

"We know they planned to join ISIS through their travel itineraries," said Ayob Khan.

Can ISIS attack the U.S. homeland?
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The 19 suspects -- 17 men and two women, who were arrested in operations between April and July -- had planned flights to Istanbul, Turkey before going to Syria over land via Turkey's Hatay province, the counter terrorism specialist said.

Seven people have already being charged in court for various terror-related activities.

Bars targeted

During their investigations, police say they uncovered plans by the group to bomb bars and other alcohol-related establishments, including a brewery, around the city.

"They were also using Facebook to raise money for their activities under the guise of humanitarian efforts in the Middle East," said Ayob Khan. He declined to reveal how much money had already been raised, or to identify the group's name, as they are still investigating its links with other groups.

In June, 26-year-old Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki became the first Malaysian suicide bomber linked to ISIS.

The factory worker, who was behind an attack that killed more than 20 elite Iraqi soldiers at their base in al-Anbar in May, was identified after reports surfaced on an ISIS-linked website. His photograph was also featured.

READ: U.S. official: ISIS 'credible alternative to al Qaeda'

READ: Could ISIS retaliate against the West?

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