Kuala Lumpur: Three suspected jihadists, including an architect, have been detained in Malaysia when they were leaving the country for Turkey to join the terrorist outfit Islamic State (IS), police said on Friday.
The three were about to board a flight at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Turkey from where they would have found their way into Syria to join the IS, when they were detained by Malaysian Counter Terrorism police.
Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said Malaysia would strengthen its laws and counter-terrorism capabilities.
The architect was from Pahang state and the technician from Perlis, both were aged 26.
The 42-year-old sundry shop owner is from Kelantan and is believed to be married with six children, the Star reported.
"Initial investigations revealed that the suspects were planning to board a flight to Istanbul, which transited in Doha," said Senior Asst Comm Ayob Khan, principal assistant director of the Counter Terrorism Division.
"From Turkey, these men were planning to book a passage into Syria where they would join the Islamic State terror group."
He said that prior to the arrests, the police raided the homes of the suspects without their knowledge and discovered, among other evidence, an IS flag.
"We believe these men were recruited by Malaysian militants via social media sites, such as Facebook," Ayob said.
"The suspects were also in contact with other Malaysians fighting in Syria."
He said the police were closing in on the individual responsible for recruiting the men.
The Islamic State has thrived and mutated during the civil war in Syria. It swept into Iraq in June, seizing large swaths of the country's Sunni-dominated northern and western provinces.