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American Terror Suspect Deported From Malaysia

October 10, 2002|From Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A suspected American Islamic militant was deported today from Malaysia to face charges of conspiring to fight with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, U.S. and Malaysian officials said.

Ahmed Ibrahim Bilal was on a flight to the United States. Officials would not disclose the exact destination, but he was indicted last week in federal court in Portland, Ore.

Bilal turned himself in Sunday. He had been in Malaysia since January, studying at an Islamic university, but he dropped out of sight after his indictment.

A Malaysian judge cleared the way to deport Bilal by ruling Wednesday that he was an illegal immigrant since his passport had been revoked by the U.S.

The ruling put the case in the hands of immigration authorities and enabled the United States to avoid potentially lengthy extradition proceedings. The two countries have no extradition treaty.

Both the Malaysian and U.S. governments had expressed eagerness to have Bilal deported.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman confirmed today that Bilal had left the country. Malaysian officials said on condition of anonymity that the deportation to the United States had taken place.

The departure was carried out secretly and occurred at midmorning, officials said.

Bilal was believed to be aboard a direct noncommercial flight. The armed U.S. marshals who normally escort prisoners are not allowed to fly on foreign carriers. No U.S. airline flies directly from Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, to the United States.

Police officials said on condition of anonymity that Bilal would have been escorted to the airport in the custody of both police and immigration officers "to make sure he boards the plane."

The U.S. government says Bilal and five others tried to get into Afghanistan to fight U.S. troops. Four of the suspects were arrested last week in Oregon and Michigan. The remaining one is still at large.

Bilal allegedly was one of five members of the ring who tried to travel to Afghanistan, though none made it that far. Bilal's brother has been arrested in Michigan and three others in Oregon. Another suspect, Habis Abdulla al Saoub, is being sought overseas.

The charges against them include conspiracy to levy war against the United States and conspiracy to provide material support and resources to Al Qaeda.

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