The arrest of the seven were made just days before King Salman, and his 1,500-strong entourage, arrived in Malaysia on February 26. Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said: ‘They were planning to attack Arab royalties during their visit to Kuala Lumpur. We got them in the nick of time.’
On Sunday Malaysia said it had arrested four Yemenis, one Malaysian, one Indonesian and another man from the Far East – between February 21 and 26 for suspected links to militant groups including ISIS. Yesterday Malaysia said the attackers were planning to kill King Salman. Saudi Arabia has been leading a war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen for the last two years.
A senior Malaysian police source said the four Yemenis belonged to the Houthi movement, which hails from a Shi’ite Muslim sect and is supported by Iran. A Saudi source said it was still not clear whether the suspects supported the Houthis or ISIS – known in Saudi Arabia as Daesh – but it said the incident showed why security ‘represents the bulk of the entourage in foreign official trips’.
‘It is no doubt a terrorist act. Should it be Daesh or Houthis supported by Iran, this is what the local Malaysian investigation will reveal,’ said a Saudi source.
The king arrived in Kuala Lumpur on February 26 for a four-day visit at the start of a month-long Asia tour. He later moved on to Indonesia.
Inspector General Abu Bakar said: ‘Four Yemenis, apart from their role involving in producing false travel documents they are also involved in distributing drugs…and they are also planning to attack the Arab royalties during the visit in Kuala Lumpur, so we got them in the nick of time.’ The Yemenis were arrested in Serdang and Cyberjaya – near the capital Kuala Lumpur.
Police seized several international passports from the four, along with £50,000 in different currencies.
Police have said the Malaysian and the Indonesian who were arrested in late February were planning to launch a large-scale attack using a car bomb.
Malaysia has arrested hundreds of people with suspected militant links during recent years.
The country has been on high alert since suicide bombers and gunmen linked to ISIS launched multiple attacks in Jakarta, the capital of neighbouring Indonesia, in January 2016.