Kim Jong-nam assassination suspects claim they thought they were 'taking part in a prank'

The two female and four male suspects in the killing of Kim Jong-nam are hired assassins who did not know each other before they were brought together for the murder plot, a Malaysian security source has told the Telegraph.

The six suspects, most of whom are thought to be sleeper agents, were all living in Kuala Lumpur and were recruited and briefed for the hit by a secret agent point man or woman, the source, who did not want to be named, said.

Siti Aishah, the second Indonesian suspect who was arrested in the early hours of Tuesday morning, had been living in Kuala Lumpur for several months. She was working as a hostess in a nightclub in the Malaysian capital.

Both Siti and the other female suspect, a Vietnamese woman, claimed to police they were persuaded to attack Mr Kim as part of a "prank".

Aishah had been approached by a mysterious man at the nightclub where she worked in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, and offered $100 to help with the stunt, reported Indonesian news-site Kumpuran.

The report, which could not be independently verified, suggested that Siti went ahead with the deal because she needed the money, but had no idea who Kim Jong-nam was. It claimed she did not know the other suspects in the case, and thought they were a film crew in a comedy reality television show.

According to Kumpuran, Siti, from Serang, northern Indonesia, was an uneducated divorced mother of one son, who did not live with her. She had previously worked as a domestic helper in Jakarta, Indonesia, before moving to Malaysia in 2013 with her now ex-husband.

The Malaysian security source said Malaysian police also detained a 25 year old Malaysian male on Wednesday evening. The detainee is believed to be the boyfriend of Aishah, the second Indonesian suspect. He is not thought to be involved in the case, but merely used to provide information leading to the arrest of Siti Aishah.

The claims fit with similar reports from Malaysia that the second woman arrested over the murder, Vietnamese citizen, Doan Thi Huong, also told police she had been tricked into wiping poison on Kim in what she believed was a harmless prank.

Multiple reports suggest that the two women did not leave Kuala Lumpur’s international airport, the scene of the attack, with any sense of urgency, and lined up for a cab at the exit.

They were both arrested as police stepped up the hunt for a six-strong team of assassins believed to have been behind the death of Kim Jong-nam.

The autopsy report has been delayed, and Mr Kim's body will remain under police protection.

A post mortem has also reportedly identified the poison used in the attack at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Monday, although the results of the autopsy have yet to be announced.

Speculation continues to mount that Kim Jong-nam was killed on the orders of Kim Jong-un, who feared that he could become the rallying point for a coup against his regime. Mr Kim had consistently denied having designs on the North Korean leadership.

South Korea's Yonhap News reported that North Korean diplomats had met Kim Jong-nam in January and asked him to voluntarily go to Pyongyang. The report claimed that Kim Jong-un was concerned at reports that Kim Jong-nam was considering "defecting" on a permanent basis to South Korea or the United States - a move that could have significantly damaged the regime's legitimacy and standing with its own people.

Perhaps concerned at the rash of executions that his half-brother has recently ordered, Kim Jong-nam asked for time to consider the request. It is not clear whether he had delivered an answer before his death.

Siti Aishah was taken into custody by police at 2am on Thursday, joining Doan Thi Huong, who was arrested the previous day.

Suspect wore 'LOL' t-shirt

A  Malaysian government source has confirmed to Reuters that the first suspect detained was the same woman whose image was captured by close circuit television footage showing her wearing a white shirt with the letters "LOL" on the front.

Police said they were still searching for four men identified on CCTV at the airport who are believed to be North Koreans.

"One of the girls was told to hold a handkerchief on the face of the victim after he'd been sprayed by the other girl," an unnamed senior police officer told The Telegraph. "She held it there for 10 seconds. She said she thought spraying him had been a 'prank'. 

"We have already looked through the CCTV footage, hence we managed to arrest the taxi driver who had taken the two woman who carried out the assassination," said the senior police official, who asked not to be named.

Meanwhile Ahmad Zahid, Malaysia's deputy prime minister, said that North Korea asked for Mr Kim's body and that it will be released to the country in accordance to proper legal procedure once police and medical procedures are complete.

Murder 'carried out by North Korean agents'

Lawmakers in South Korea earlier cited their spy agency as saying it suspected two female North Korean agents had murdered Mr Kim. US government sources also said they believed North Korean assassins were responsible.

In Pyongyang, celebrations are under way to mark the 75th anniversary of the birth of Kim Jong-il, the late dictator and father of both Kim Jong-nam and his half-brother, Kim Jong-un.

State media reported that Kim Jong-un paid tribute to his late father, who died in December 2011, on a national holiday known as the Day of the Shining Star.

There have been no mentions of the death of Kim Jong-nam in state media and there have been suggestions that ordinary North Koreans may not know their leader even had an older half-brother as it would call into question the legitimacy of the rule of their present leader.

Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of Kim Jong-un, in pictures

South Korea plans to inform them of the "brutality" of Kim Jong-un by using loudspeakers to broadcast news of his half-brother's death over the border into the North.

Kim Jong-nam 'never plotted to overthrow dictator'

Kim Jong-nam, a 46-year-old playboy who had been living in exile in Macau, was estranged from his younger half-brother, Kim Jong-un, and had been living abroad for years. He reportedly fell out of favour when he was caught trying to enter Japan on a false passport in 2001, saying he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland.

It is believed Kim Jong-un ordered the assassination as he feared being overthrown by his older half-brother.

Mr Kim has always denied having any intentions of taking over the North Korean leadership.

According to South Korean intelligence, Mr Kim wrote to Kim Jong-un in 2012 asking his half-brother to spare his life and that of his family.

Kim Jong-un | A history of executions - family, allies and rivals