Malaysian police have arrested two Islamic teachers believed to be members of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network. The two - an Indonesian and a Malaysian - allegedly helped recruits traveling through Malaysia on their way to military training with Muslim militants in the southern Philippines.
Two men were arrested Thursday at their homes in Malaysia's eastern state of Sabah, on the island of Borneo. The two were described by officials as middlemen, providing accommodation and transport for Islamic militants traveling on to the Philippine island of Mindanao for guerilla warfare training.
A senior officer of Malaysia's Special Branch Forces, which handles internal security, said the arrests were the first solid evidence of Jemaah Islamiyah activity on Malaysian Borneo.
Sabah state borders the southern Philippines, where the Philippine government has been fighting a long-running battle against the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim militant group with alleged ties to the al-Qaida terror network. Jemaah Islamiyah, known as JI, aims to establish a Muslim state throughout Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Southern Philippines, and has also been linked to al-Qaida.
The Malaysian official said several other individuals in Sabah State are being sought, and more arrests are expected soon.
The police said the two men arrested Thursday, whose names were not made public, were detained after it appeared they were preparing to flee Malaysia. They were described as members of JI, but not high-ranking officials.
Jemaah Islamiyah is the main suspect in the October 12 bombings that killed more than 190 people on the Indonesian resort island of Bali. Several nations, including Malaysia, have branded JI a terrorist organization, and it has been accused of planning attacks on U.S. and other Western diplomatic missions in Malaysia and Singapore.
Malaysia has detained more than 70 alleged Islamic militants since the middle of last year, many of them also reportedly JI members.