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STRATEGIC ASSESSMENT. Malaysian police had detained 20 alleged Islamic militants, including a leading member of an Indonesian extremist group and others believed to be planning to fight in the strife-torn southern Philippines, authorities said Friday.

They were the latest arrests of alleged extremists in Muslim-majority Malaysia, as fears grow militants who had been fighting with the Islamic State (IS) group overseas are heading back to Southeast Asia after the jihadists’ losses in the Middle East.

The arrests were made in nationwide raids from late November to mid-December, police said in a statement.

Among those detained was an alleged senior leader of the Indonesian IS-linked militant outfit Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which has been blamed for several recent deadly attacks in its home country.

The 24-year-old was picked up in the southern Malaysian state of Johor, police said, without identifying him.

A 50-year-old Filipino suspected of trying to recruit people to join Philippine kidnap-for-ransom gang Abu Sayyaf was arrested in Kuala Lumpur.

Several Filipinos, Malaysians and Indonesians were detained on Borneo island, also suspected of planning to join militants in the Philippines.

The arrests come after hundreds of local and foreign gunmen who had pledged allegiance to IS laid siege to the principal Islamic city in the mainly Catholic Philippines for five months.

The brutal battle for Marawi claimed over 1,000 lives.

A militant from an unidentified North African country who had previously fought with IS in the Middle East was also arrested at Kuala Lumpur airport, police said.

Malaysia has rounded up hundreds of suspected Islamic militants in recent years but has not suffered a major attack.

Previously, in Riau and East Java, Indonesia, at least 19 alledgedly suspected terrorist had been caught by Police Anti Terror Special Detachment.

According to Tony Priyono, a terror attacks observer in Jakarta said Phillipines, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia will be made as “a hub of terror group” in South East Asia, after they were defeated in Syria and Iraq.

“However, a terror attacks will be haunted several countries in South East Asia, but the efforts of polices and an intelligence apparatus which had always been monitored, surveilanced and detained allegedly terrorist, its could be thwarted a terrorist plans, “he said.

The celebration of 2018 new year must be anticipated from terror attacks, Tony Priyono further explained eventough the possibility of terror attacks at new year celebration could be detected by security apparatus. “The situation of new year celebration will be safe and okey, ” he predicted. (Wilnas/Bayu K)