Sources said the 63-year- old, who had been hiding in Kampung Simpangan here since his commune in Hulu Besut, Terengganu, was torn down by the authorities last month, had crossed Sungai Golok into Thailand illegally.
Ariffin had allegedly been hiding in a friend’s house in the village, which is about 10 kilometres from the main road to Pengkalan Kubor.
According to villagers, Ariffin was a familiar face as he used to cross over to a cockfight gambling den in Tak Bai, Thailand, over the past few years.
Coffeeshop owner Saadah Mohammad, 35, said Ariffin would have a drink at her shop whenever he was in the village.
Another villager, Adam Che Mat, 60, said he met Ariffin last month as he was about to cross the river on a sampan.
“Ariffin would usually be at the gambling den for cockfighting sessions, accompanied by young women.”
Another villager said Ariffin had been arrested several times for gambling and also for entering Thailand without proper documents.
Ariffin is wanted by Malaysian authorities for spreading deviant religious teachings.