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AWSJ: Asian Militants With Alleged al Qaeda Ties Accused ...
By Leslie Lopez

8/1/2002 9:18 am Tue

[Perhatikan berita yang kedua yang memetik dua sumber - satu dari pihak tentera (Najib) dan satu dari polis (Norian Mai). Singapura mengesahkan akan kewujudan sel (atau cawangan) al-Qaeda tetapi Malaysia menafikannya dan sekadar mengatakan ada hubungan sahaja. Tetapi banyak 'aktiviti' berlaku di Malaysia... atau dengan kata lain, 'bukan cawangan' lebih aktif dari 'cawangan' sehingga dapat mengatur beberapa pertemuan.... - Editor]

The Asian Wall Street Journal
7th January 2002

Asian Militants With Alleged al Qaeda Ties Are Accused of Plotting Against Embassies



Southeast Asian Islamic militants with alleged links to the al Qaeda terror network plotted bomb attacks on the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Singapore last year, according to Asia-based intelligence officials and diplomats.

The plans were discovered and thwarted after Singapore and Malaysia detained 28 terrorist suspects over the past month, officials said. They said information obtained from captured al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan led to the wave of arrests in the two countries.

Southeast Asian governments have been cracking down on domestic Islamic militant movements and stepping up cooperation with the U.S. global antiterror campaign in recent months. But the latest arrests in Singapore and Malaysia mark the first time security officials in the two countries have publicly linked domestic militant Islamic groups directly to al Qaeda.

On Saturday, Singapore announced that its Internal Security Department arrested 15 suspected militants in December for alleged involvement in plans to bomb several sites in the city state, a close U.S. ally. Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Tony Tan said Sunday the bomb targets included embassies and military installations, which he declined to identify. However, Asia-based intelligence officials said the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Singapore were the key targets.

A U.S. intelligence official said prisoners in custody in Afghanistan provided information that led to the arrests in Malaysia and Singapore. Several of the Asian men in custody had ties to al Qaeda, the official said. There is evidence that some of the arrested individuals might have been plotting to blow up the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Singapore, but the U.S. is still attempting to verify that information. State Department officials couldn't be reached for comment on the intelligence report.

Those arrested in Singapore are mainly members of a clandestine organization known as Jemaah Islamiah, according to a Singapore government statement. The government said that several of the detainees had been to Afghanistan where they received some training in al Qaeda camps. Fourteen of the men are Muslim Singaporeans; one is a former Singapore national who has taken Malaysian citizenship.

On Friday, Malaysian police said they had detained 13 suspected Islamic militants linked to the outlawed Kumpulan Mujahideen Malaysia, or Malaysian Mujahideen Movement, also known as KMM, over the last month. The arrests bring to 30 the number of suspected Islamic militants detained over the last six months under Malaysia's tough security laws, which permit detention without trial.

Police chief Norian Mai said Malaysia is investigating suspected links between KMM members and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network and, in particular, Zacarias Moussaoui, an alleged al Qaeda member who was indicted last month in the U.S. in connection with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. Mr. Norian told reporters Friday that Mr. Moussaoui visited Malaysia twice: between Sept. 4 and 15, 2000, and on Oct. 5, 2000.

Asian intelligence officials said Singapore and Malaysian security agencies are cooperating closely to investigate suspected radical Islamic groups in both countries. Police believe that such groups have cross-border ties and are influenced by Indonesian Islamic extremists with connections to the al Qaeda movement, the officials said. Malaysian and Singapore police have declined to elaborate on the arrests, saying that their investigations are continuing.

But Asia-based security officials said Singapore intelligence officials were tipped off to the existence of an Islamic militant cell in late November, after Afghanistan's Northern Alliance forces obtained the information from a captured Southeast Asian Muslim who fought with the Taliban.

Acting on this information, Singapore police arrested five people in early December and uncovered an alleged plot to bomb several prominent targets in Singapore, including the U.S and Israeli embassies, as well as military installations. Among other things, Singapore provides substantial naval facilities for the U.S., including support services for American aircraft carriers. The U.S. intelligence official said, however, that reports that a U.S. navy battle group was a possible target aren't accurate.

Intelligence officials and diplomats familiar with the situation said Singapore police discovered videotapes indicating that the suspected Singaporean Islamic militants, aided by several foreigners, had conducted surveillance of the U.S. and Israeli embassies and that they were attempting to procure materials to make bombs.

Later last month, Singapore police arrested 10 more suspected militants and seized detailed information on bomb making, al Qaeda-linked documents and falsified passports at some of their homes.

The Malaysian arrests were largely the result of long-term surveillance of one of the 13 men. Intelligence officials familiar with the situation said that one suspected Malaysian militant, who they declined to name, came under suspicion because he had an apparent connection to Khalid al-Midhar, one of the alleged hijackers of the plane that hit the Pentagon on Sept. 11.

According to intelligence officials, Mr. Midhar and three other suspected foreign al Qaeda militants visited Malaysia in January 2000 and stayed in an apartment just outside Kuala Lumpur that is owned by the now-detained Malaysian.

Malaysian police surveillance tapes of Mr. Midhar's activities in Kuala Lumpur were handed over to U.S. intelligence officials at the time. Police continued to keep watch on the Malaysian apartment owner, who has a degree in biochemistry from a U.S. university, but didn't move to arrest him.

Asia-based intelligence officials said police lost contact with the suspected militant in June 2001, when he left for Pakistan. The man was picked up when he tried to reenter Malaysia overland from Thailand in early December.

Acting on information learned from interrogation of the suspect, Malaysian police detained 12 more suspected KMM members and seized documents on guerrilla warfare and map reading, along with studies of militant Islamic groups in the Philippines, Chechnya, Afghanistan and Indonesia, according to police chief Mr. Norian.

-- Jay Solomon, Sara Webb and Phillip Day contributed to this article.

No al-Qaeda in Malaysia: Defence minister

AP [ MONDAY, JANUARY 07, 2002 6:33:06 PM ]

KUALA LUMPUR: Al-Qaeda does not have cells in Malaysia, but a local Islamic militant group may have ties with the terrorist organisation overseas, Defence Minister Najib Tun Razak said on Monday.

Asked if the local group had links with Osama Bin Laden's organisation, Najib replied: "There's no al-Qaeda group in Malaysia, except that they may have contacts at the international level," the Bernama national news agency reported.

Malaysian police said on Friday they had arrested 13 people since December 9 on suspicion of being members of an Islamic extremist group they have been watching for months.

Police chief Norian Mai said police were investigating whether some of the suspects had contact with suspects in the September 11 attacks in the United States.

Officials say two men believed to be hijackers on the jetliner that crashed into the pentagon on September 11 visited Malaysia in 2000, as did Zacarias Moussaoui, who is facing conspiracy charges in the United States in connection with the attacks.