Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian police are investigating whether al Qaeda linked Somali rebels were seeking to set up a base in the Southeast Asian country after a suspected insurgent was arrested, a source with knowledge of the investigation said Friday.
Police said on Thursday they detained a 34-year-old Somali man in Kuala Lumpur who was wanted by Interpol for alleged links to Shebab rebels blamed for a string of violent attacks in East Africa.
Police have also been tracking five others, most of whom entered Malaysia on student visas, said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Some of those five have since left the country, the source said, adding that an investigation was ongoing and more arrests could be announced.
Police deputy inspector general Bakri Zinin first announced the arrest of the Somali man late Thursday.
"The police are investigating the detainee`s activity in Malaysia to find out if there are other Al-Shebab-linked terrorists who may be hiding or carrying out activities that can be detrimental to Malaysia`s security," he said.
Shebab rebels claimed responsibility for the bloody assault last year on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya`s capital Nairobi, which left at least 67 people dead.
Last week, Malaysia arrested 11 people suspected to be involved in Islamic militant activities under the mantle of humanitarian work.
Malaysian media have quoted official sources saying the two cases were not related.
Muslim-majority Malaysia practises moderate Islam and has not seen any notable terror attacks in recent memory.
But it has been home to several suspected key figures in militant Islamic groups, such as the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah blamed for the deadly 2002 Bali bombings.
Malaysian police are investigating possible terrorism in the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 but have so far given no indication that they have solid leads.
A UN-mandated African Union force has been battling Shebab militants in Somalia since 2007.