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RESPONSE TO TERROR

15 Held in Singapore Bomb Plots

Southeast Asia: A regional crackdown on terrorism has led to 13 arrests in Malaysia.

January 06, 2002|From Times Wire Services

SINGAPORE — Authorities have arrested 15 suspected militants, some of whom trained at Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, for allegedly plotting bombings in this city state, the government said Saturday.

Singapore's announcement came a day after Malaysian authorities said they had locked up 13 suspects with possible links to Osama bin Laden since Dec. 9.

The parallel sweeps in the two countries, using laws allowing detention without trial, came after Southeast Asian leaders signed an accord at a regional summit in Brunei to join forces to stamp out cross-border terrorism.

The suspects in Singapore were arrested between Dec. 9 and Dec. 24, and detailed information on bomb construction, photographs and video footage of targeted buildings here were found in their homes and offices, the Ministry of Home Affairs said. Al Qaeda-linked material, falsified passports and forged immigration stamps also were found, a ministry statement said.

The suspects have links to militant groups in Malaysia and Indonesia, the statement said.

The 15 were detained under Singapore's Internal Security Act, which allows people to be held indefinitely without a trial. All but one of the suspects is Singaporean. One suspect was a Singaporean who became a Malaysian citizen, the statement said.

Thirteen of the suspects in Singapore are members of a clandestine organization called Jemaah Islamiah, the statement said. It is unclear whether the two others are also members of the group, it said.

Malaysian police said that the militants it has arrested had been instructed by two key Indonesian figures in Jemaah Islamiah--Abu Jibril, who has been detained in Malaysia, and Hambali Isamuddin, who is sought by Malaysian police.

Singapore has close economic and military ties with the United States and has been a staunch supporter of the post-Sept. 11 crackdown on terrorism.

"The activities of this group included fund collection for terrorist groups, active surveillance of establishments in Singapore targeted for terrorist bombing, as well as attempts to procure materials for bomb construction, including large quantities of ammonium nitrate," the statement said.

It did not specify what buildings were targeted by the group. Some members of the network are believed to have fled the country, the ministry said.

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