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Malaysia Deports US Terror Suspect - 2002-10-10

Malaysia has deported to the United States a U.S. citizen who is wanted there on terrorism charges. Ahmed Ibrahim Bilal left Malaysia for an undisclosed location in the United States, after a judge refused to consider his request for political asylum.

Officials in Kuala Lumpur say Ahmed Ibrahim Bilal left Malaysia Thursday after a high court judge ruled he was an illegal immigrant because the American goerrnment had revoked his U.S. passport.

Mr. Bilal's lawyer earlier this week asked for a stay of the deportation order. He argued that Mr. Bilal would not be granted a fair trial in the United States and needed time to apply for political asylum in Malaysia. He said the Malaysian government was acting hastily under U.S. pressure.

Prime Minister Mohammad Mahathir told reporters he was not aware of any outside pressure and that his government was acting according to the law.

The judge did hold up the deportation for a day, but ruled Wednesday that Mr. Bilal's illegal status overrode the asylum request. A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Kuala Lumpur Thursday expressed gratitude to the Malaysian government and confirmed that Mr. Bilal had left the country.

Mr. Bilal had reportedly been in Malaysia since January, studying at an Islamic university near Kuala Lumpur. He is one of six people charged last week in the northwestern state of Oregon with conspiring to make war against the United States and with seeking to go to Afghanistan to help the al-Qaeda terrorist group and its Taleban allies.

The six are also charged with buying firearms after the September 11 attacks in the United States last year and of undergoing weapons training. Four of the accused are in jail awaiting trial in the United States. The sixth individual is still at large.

Malaysia has detained more than 60 alleged Muslim extremists in the past year, many under the controversial Internal Security Act that allows unlimited detention without trial.

Some are accused of seeking to establish an Islamist state in southeast Asia. Others are accused of belonging to the Jemaah Islamiah group, which reportedly planned terrorist attacks in the region and allegedly has ties to the al-Qaeda network. One of detainees is accused of hosting two of the September 11 suicide pilots at his home in Malaysia.