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Malaysia Frees Jemaah Islamiah Terrorists

The Government has released without publicity more than a dozen Muslim extremists linked to the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) terror organisation. They include Malaysian Yazid Sufaat, who is believed to have abetted the Sept 11 attacks in New York.

SERANG, INDONESIA - NOVEMBER 6:  Dedi Chaidir ...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Yazid emerged as a key figure in JI’s regional network because of his link to Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent who was convicted of conspiracy charges in the Sept 11 attacks in New York.

A senior Malaysian government official told The Straits Times that the Indonesian, Malaysian and Filipino detainees were freed over the past month after a government advisory board at the Kamunting Detention Centre in Perak decided that they were no longer security threats.

Also released was a Thai national, Kasem Dayama, who was arrested in October 2006 for espionage, the official said. Their release has not been publicised.

Coming on the heels of the executions last month of the three Bali bombers in Indonesia, Malaysia‘s move has raised eyebrows among the region’s intelligence community and security experts.

Security analysts warned of reprisal attacks after Indonesia executed Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra for their role in the 2002 bombings of two Bali nightclubs that left more than 200 people dead.

Many of the detainees just released in Malaysia knew the Bali bombers well and are known to several JI militants who are still at large, including Noordin Mohammad Top and the Singapore detainee who escaped, Mas Selamat Kastari.

Regional intelligence officials fear that the freed men might still be anti-Western and could easily return to their underground networks in places such as the predominantly Muslim regions of southern Thailand and southern Philippines.

“There is clearly a more relaxed approach to the way Kuala Lumpur is dealing with suspected terrorists,” one senior Western intelligence official based in South-east Asia said, adding that his government’s security agencies would be seeking more information from their Malaysian counterparts.

A senior Malaysian government official who declined to be named defended the detainees’ release.

He insisted that Kuala Lumpur remained committed to the fight against religious extremism, and stressed that the men who were released had been rehabilitated after an intensive programme.

“Some of them, like Yazid, have been detained for more than six years and the (advisory) board was comfortable that these men have been rehabilitated,” he said.

He added that Yazid, who was arrested in December 2001, had shown “huge improvement” in recent years under the rehabilitation programme.

Again, he declined to elaborate. The 43-year-old Yazid is by far the most prominent of the JI suspects released by Malaysia.

A trained biochemist and former army captain, he emerged as a key figure in JI’s regional network because of his link to Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent who was convicted on conspiracy charges in the Sept 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

Yazid hosted Moussaoui during his visit to Malaysia in September and October 2000. Eight months earlier, he allowed Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi to use his apartment. They were the two hijackers on board the American Airlines aircraft that crashed into the Pentagon.

Yazid was to have been detained until Jan 31, 2010, according to security officials.

Sources said his release was subject to conditions. A resident of Selangor, he cannot leave the state without the permission of the state police chief.

Similar conditions apply to Sabah resident Sulaiman Suramin, who was arrested in 2003 and is among those just released.

The foreign nationals released by the Malaysian government were mainly lowly functionaries of JI, which has ambitions of establishing a pan-Islamic state linking Indonesia, Malaysia and the Muslim southern islands of the Philippines.

Sources said the freed foreigners included eight Indonesians who were detained for two days at a West Java detention centre before being allowed to return to their families.

The Indonesians include:

Ahmad Zakaria, who was arrested off Sabah in 2004;

Arifin Iwan, who was caught in 2005 en route to the southern Philippines. He had been active in sectarian fighting in Ambon and Poso;

Terhamid Dahlan alias Adi Utomo Sukamto, who was arrested while trying to enter Sabah illegally in 2004;

Zakaria Saman, alias Ahmad Said Maulana, who was arrested in 2003 while returning from south-east Philippines. He fought in Ambon and received his military training in the southern Philippines.

Philippine nationals Shaykinar Guat and Argadi Andoyok were arrested in 2006 off Sabah.

It is not clear whether they have been released since they were handed over to the Philippine authorities.

Thai national Kasem Dayama was also arrested in 2006, but he had no links to JI. Malaysian security officials say he was arrested for spying on southern Thais seeking refuge in Kelantan.

Malaysian government sources said there are another 30 suspected JI operatives, a handful of them foreigners, still in detention at the Kamunting detention centre.

Source: Straits Times Singapore

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  1. […] Random Feed wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThe Government has released without publicity more than a dozen Muslim extremists linked to the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) terror organisation. They include Malaysian Yazid Sufaat, who is believed to have abetted the Sept 11 attacks in New York. Image by Getty Images via Daylife Yazid emerged as a key figure in JI’s regional network because of his link to Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent who was convicted of conspiracy charges in the Sept 11 attacks in New York. A sen […]

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