Malaysian army soldiers were deployed at “strategic points” in the streets of the capital city of Kuala Lumpur Friday, amid unconfirmed reports of “imminent terrorist threats” to the country. The tightened security measures come even as the country is preparing to host a key summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) over the weekend, which will be attended by several world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama.
So far, at least 2,000 army personnel have been deployed in Kuala Lumpur and another 2,500 are on standby, Reuters reported, citing Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, the Malaysian armed forces chief.
According to Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar, security was tightened as a precaution following the terrorist attacks in France, Egypt and Lebanon. However, he added, that the terrorist threats to Malaysia are “yet to be confirmed.”
“The Royal Malaysian Police have intensified the existing comprehensive security arrangement for the Asean and related summits in Kuala Lumpur,” he reportedly said. “Security checks at all entry and exit pointed to Malaysia have been stepped up.”
Earlier, on Thursday, a leaked police memo -- initially reported by the local news website Malaysiakini -- detailed a Sunday meeting between militants of the Islamic State group and the Philippine insurgent groups Abu Sayyaf and the Moro National Liberation Front. Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for the execution of a Malaysian man held captive for six months.
The memo, whose authenticity was later confirmed by the Malaysian police, reportedly said that the meeting was attended by at least 14 leaders from the three groups, and that ISIS and Abu Sayyaf had positioned 10 suicide bombers in Kuala Lumpur.
“These suicide bombers underwent military training in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as prepared to receive orders from their leaders to launch attacks/bombings,” Malaysiakini quoted the memo as saying.
“It is actually an internal directive, for us to always be wary,” Federal Police Special Branch Director Fuzi Harun told the state-run news agency Bernama. “It is information that we received but we don't have clearer information ... it may be true or false, but action is still taken.”