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Malaysia to Deport US Terror Suspect - 2002-10-09


A Malaysian judge is refusing to delay the deportation of a U.S. citizen wanted in the United States on charges of terrorism. The judge rejected a request for political asylum by the defendant's lawyer, who argues that his client will not get a fair trial in the United States.

A high court judge in Kuala Lumpur refused to extend a stay on the deportation order of Ahmed Ibrahim Bilal because his passport has been revoked by U.S. authorities. He is therefore an illegal immigrant by law, says the judge, and cannot remain in Malaysia.

The judge adjourned the hearing until Thursday to review questions about Mr. Bilal's arrest, but prosecutors say he could be deported as soon as the order is signed by Malaysia's director of immigration.

Mr. Bilal's lawyer, Darshan Singh, protested the decision, telling reporters it was unfair.

"They are just delaying and playing for time," he said. " The Americans think they can do what they like. They need not follow local law. They can insult our judiciary, our government. "

Mr. Darshan indicates he will appeal the decision, but the judge says there is no right of appeal in such cases.

Mr. Bilal is one of six people indicted last week by U.S. authorities. They are accused of conspiring to wage war on the United States, buying firearms after the September 11 attacks in the U.S., and of seeking to join al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan.

Four of the defendants, including Mr. Bilal's brother, were arrested last week in the U.S. states of Oregon and Michigan. A sixth suspect is still at large.

Mr. Bilal turned himself in to Malaysian authorities earlier this week after hearing there was a warrant for his arrest. He reportedly has been in Malaysia since January and was studying at the International Islamic University near Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysian officials say the fact that the United States revoked Mr. Bilal's passport made it easier for them to deport him because it made him an illegal immigrant. Otherwise, it would have been difficult because there is no extradition treaty between Malaysia and the United States.

Malaysia this year has arrested several dozen people suspected of seeking to establish an Islamic state in Southeast Asia and of plotting terrorist attacks in the region. Some of the detainees have been linked to al-Qaeda. One suspect is accused of hosting two of the September 11th suicide pilots in his home in Malaysia.

Some of the individuals have been arrested under Malaysia's controversial Internal Security Act, which allows unlimited detention without trial. The law, however, has long been criticized by some human rights groups.

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