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Singapore Restricts Movement of Alleged Terrorist Group Members - 2004-01-14

Singapore says it has placed restrictions on the movements of 12 alleged members of Southeast Asian terrorist groups. Singapore has also revealed the previously unannounced detention of two other terrorist suspects.

The Singapore Home Affairs Ministry said the 12 men, all Singaporeans, are barred from leaving the country without permission, and will be required to undergo "religious counseling" as part of their restrictions.

Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng explained why the 12 were not detained.

"These 12, they have been involved in some ways and therefore they are put on restriction orders. But their involvement is not as deep as those who are now particularly under detention orders," he said.

The ministry said 10 are members of Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional terrorist network with reported ties to the al-Qaida group. The group was responsible for bomb attacks in Indonesia and the Philippines in which more than 200 people were killed, and is accused of plotting terrorist attacks in Singapore and Thailand.

The ministry says the two others are members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has been fighting for autonomy in the southern Philippines. Terrorism experts say scores of Jemaah Islamiyah members have trained at Moro Islamic Liberation Front camps, but MILF leaders say theirs is not a terrorist organization.

The Singapore government says 37 alleged terrorists are in detention under its controversial Internal Security Act, which allows virtually unlimited detention without trial. Thirty-one of these detainees were arrested in a crackdown two years ago, after Singapore uncovered a plot to bomb public installations in the island state.

The Interior Ministry says the 37 also include two previously unannounced detentions.

It says that one, Hosnay bin-Awi, is a long-time member of Jemaah Islamiyah, and the father-in-law of bombmaker Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi, who was killed in a shootout with Philippine police last year after escaping from a Philippine prison.

The ministry says the second, Alahuddeen bin Abdullah, fought with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for two years before fleeing to Indonesia and eventually to Singapore.

Home Affairs Minister Mr. Wong told reporters that despite the arrests, Jemaah Islamiyah remains a threat.

"We also know that the threat of the JI is not over even though we have disrupted and broken the JI operation in Singapore," he said.

Mr. Wong made the remarks one day after Singapore's Defense Minister, Tony Tan, met in Bangkok with Thailand's Justice Minister and announced that several major Jemaah Islamiyah leaders remain at large.

Security forces from Thailand are pursuing several dozen men who recently attacked an army arms depot near the Thai-Malaysian border, killing four soldiers and making off with more than 100 arms.

Some Thai officials say the attackers may have ties with Jemaah Islamiyah. On Tuesday Thailand and Malaysia began joint patrols in the border area after a 20-year hiatus.