Malaysia's counter-terrorism agency has arrested a suspected Islamic State (IS) follower for planning to carry out attacks in Myanmar, top officials said.
Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, the head of the Malaysian police counter-terrorism division, said Myanmar continues to face a growing danger of attacks by the foreign IS supporters recruited from Southeast Asian networks in support of persecuted Muslim Rohingyas.
Ayob Khan said the suspect, an Indonesian whom he did not identify, was detained in Malaysia last month. He was scheduled to be charged on Wednesday for possession of materials linked to terrorist groups, which carries a jail term of seven years or fine.
He added that more militants are likely to to follow his lead in support of the Rohingya cause. "He was planning to perform jihad in Myanmar, fighting against the Myanmar government for this Rohingya group in Rakhine State," he told Reuters.
According to the United Nations, a Myanmar army sweep has sent about 34,000 members of the Rohingya minority fleeing into Bangladesh. The army sweep had started on in the north of Rakhine State, its border with Bangladesh since October.
The Myanmar security forces have often been accused of summary executions and rape in the army operation, which were launched in response to attacks on police posts on Oct. 9 that killed nine officers, by the rights groups and residents. However, the government of Aung San Suu Kyi has denied all the accusations of abuse.
Zaw Htay, spokesman of Myanmar government, said an official report into October's violence in Rakhine state showed that there was no evidence of an IS presence in the country or the attacks were not linked to IS.
Over the past few years, IS has claimed several attacks in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines and in some cases they were linked to foiled plots as well.
"There is a high possibility that Muslims, be it from IS or other groups, will find the ways and means to go to Myanmar to help their Rohingya Muslim brothers," Ayob Khan said.
Ayob Khan further added that the Indonesian suspect, a factory worker who had been in Malaysia since 2014, was among seven people arrested for suspected links to IS and he was also involved in a plot to smuggle weapons to Indonesia's Poso region, on Sulawesi island.
Although it was not disclosed by the police that what group the suspect was trying to link up with in Myanmar, Ayob Khan said that the suspect was in contact with Muhammad Wanndy Muhammad Jedi. Muhammad Wanndy is a Syria-based Malaysian militant who claimed responsibility on behalf of IS for a grenade attack on a bar in June last year.