Malaysian police say they have detained three Muslim men suspected of wanting to go to Syria to join the Islamic State group.
The head of the national police counter-terrorism unit, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, said Friday that the three were detained Thursday at the Kuala Lumpur international airport while waiting for a flight to Turkey en route to Syria.
He says the men – an architect and a technician, both aged 26, and a 46-year-old shopkeeper- were believed to be recruited through Facebook and other social media sites and were in contact with Malaysians fighting in Syria.
Ayob Khan says the men were held under the Security Offenses Act, which allows police to hold suspects for up to 28 days before they must be brought to court.
Authorities have identified at least 22 Malaysians fighting in Syria, including three men who had died.
He says police are still hunting for five suspected militants, including a former lecturer and a sundry shop owner who are believed to be leaders of a local militant group that is recruiting, training and sending Malaysians to fight in Syria and Iraq.
Malaysian authorities earlier this year detained 19 suspected militants for allegedly planning to carry out terrorist acts in the country and abroad. Seven have been charged so far and the rest released. SAPA