At least seven Filipinos were among 20 people arrested and detained in the wake of an anti-terrorism operation in Malaysia.
Police also arrested seven Malaysians, five Indonesians and a northern African during the raids, Malaysia-based The Star Online reported late Friday.
The Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division and the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) made the arrests between Nov. 30 and Dec. 15 in Kuala Lumpur, Sabah, Johor and Selangor, the report said.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said one of the Filipinos, 50, was arrested in Kuala Lumpur last Dec. 6 while allegedly recruiting fellow Filipinos in the Kepong area for the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Abu Sayyaf, which has been linked to several kidnappings in Mindanao, reportedly has ties to other foreign terror groups including Jemaah Islamiyah and ISIS.
On the other hand, five Filipinos were arrested along with six Malaysians in Sandakan last Dec. 10 for alleged involvement with a terror group in southern Philippines, he said.
He added another Filipino was arrested last Dec. 10 in Masai, Johor “for involvement in terror attacks in the Philippines,” but did not elaborate.
Others who were arrested included a 24-year-old Indonesian man tagged as the senior leader of the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah terror group. He was arrested in Pontian on Nov. 30.
“We believe the suspect was collecting funds before planning to head to Syria,” Mohamad Fuzi said.
Police also arrested a 46-year-old former teacher at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on Dec. 1.
The former teacher from Kuching was suspected of belonging to a terror cell which planned an attack on the Better Beer Festival. Three other terror cell members were arrested last October.
Police said the ex-teacher was planning to head to southern Philippines to join a terror cell.
Meanwhile, four Indonesians were arrested last Dec. 4 in Sandakan.
“They entered Sabah illegally from Tarakan and Nunukan, Indonesia en route to southern Philippines,” he said.
A north African man, 31, was arrested at KLIA on Dec. 15.
“He was involved with Islamic State and had previously been arrested by Turkish authorities. He entered Malaysia earlier this month,” said Mohamed Fuzi.