A former Malaysian commando was among a group of suspected Islamic State (IS)-linked militants arrested in December by Saudi Arabia, a Malaysian newspaper has revealed.
The Malaysian Star reported on January 9 that a 29-year-old former Malaysian soldier was among 135 men detained in Riyadh on December 28 on suspicion of plotting to carry out terrorist attacks inside Saudi Arabia.
Following the arrests, a spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry said that 40 of the suspects were members of terrorist groups outside the kingdom and had received weapons training.
According to The Malaysian Star, the Malaysian suspect has 10 years of military service at Kem Sungai Udang in Malacca, where he received training in making and defusing bombs. The paper also reported that the suspect "was able to handle various firearms and trained to survive the most adverse conditions in various terrain."
The man left the Malaysian armed forces in July 2013, the paper claimed.
Sources told The Malaysian Star that the Malaysian suspect was arrested with an IS flag in his possession and he was believed to have been involved with the IS-linked terror cell for some time.
The Malaysian man had failed to return home to his family on December 18, and his father -- a farmer -- had filed a missing-persons report, the anonymous source told The Malaysian Star.
Fears In Malaysia Regarding IS Threat
The reports that one of the men arrested in Saudi Arabia is a Malaysian national come amid growing fears in Muslim-majority Malaysia about the threat posed by the Islamic State group.
In December, a Malaysian police source said that a total of 50 Malaysians were thought to be fighting with the IS group, while the country's home minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, warned in late November 2014 that the domestic terror threat had reached a "whole new level." According to The Diplomat, Malaysia is also concerned about its territory being used as a transit point for individuals heading to the Middle East.
Malaysia concerns mounted after a Malaysian national, 26-year-old Ahmad Tamimi Maliki, became the first suicide bomber linked to the IS group after allegedly killing 25 Iraqi soldiers in Anbar Province on May 26. Maliki was a former factory worker.
In response to the threat from Islamic State, Malaysia's parliament is expected to submit a draft of a new antiterrorism act in March.
In Saudi Arabia, the December arrests of the 135 suspects, including the Malaysian man, came as the kingdom tightened security measures against attacks by the IS group.
On January 5, two Saudi border guards were killed and a third injured in a suicide bombing on the Iraqi border. The perpetrators of the attack were not identified, however, IS militants control territory in Iraq's Anbar Province on the border with the kingdom.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk