By Eileen Ng, AP
KUALA LUMPUR — A Malaysian man was detained just hours before planning to blow himself up at an entertainment venue in Kuala Lumpur, a government official said Sunday, after authorities raised the alert level following bombings in neighboring Indonesia.
The 28-year-old Malaysian was detained Friday at a monorail station in Kuala Lumpur, said national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar. He said the man confessed he planned to blow himself up in an attack after receiving orders from members of the Islamic State group in Syria.
A government official, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to release information, said Sunday that the man is an insurance salesman from northeast Terengganu state.
The official told The Associated Press he was detained just hours before his planned suicide attack at an entertainment outlet, either a karaoke bar or a pub.
Khalid said in a statement that the man also had been hanging Islamic State flags in several Malaysian states to oppose the government’s crackdown on the militant group within the country. Khalid tweeted that “weapons and IS documents” were seized when the man was detained.
Police have raised the security alert to the highest level following the deadly attacks in Jakarta on Thursday. Security has been increased at public places such as shopping malls and tourist spots, with extra precautions taken at border areas to prevent any infiltration by militants, Khalid said.
Federal Territories Minister Adnan Mansor said that militant groups were targeting popular tourist destinations and shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur.
“The threats are there and we are very well aware of this, so we are on standby for any possible event,” he was quoted as saying by The New Sunday Times newspaper.
He said the motive was to destabilize popular tourist countries and create fear, like in Jakarta.
Separately, three Malaysians were detained on arrival at Kuala Lumpur’s airport Monday after Turkey repatriated the two men and one woman on Nov. 16 for trying to sneak into Syria allegedly to join the Islamic State group, Khalid said.
The three were recruited through Facebook and the Telegram phone messaging service by a Malaysian man who had joined the militant group in Syria, Khalid said.
Malaysian authorities have detained more than 150 suspects linked to the Islamic State group over the past two years, including some who were allegedly plotting attacks in strategic areas in Kuala Lumpur.