The Malaysian government says it will not hand over suspected terrorist Yazid Sufaat to the United States. U.S. officials have reportedly requested the Malaysian man's extradition in connection to the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.
Malaysian police arrested Yazid Sufaat in December after he attempted to return to Malaysia from Pakistan.
Malaysia accuses Mr. Yazid of being a member of the militant Muslim group Kumpulan Militan Malaysia, which is seeking to establish a strict Islamic state in Malaysia. He is currently being held under the country's Internal Security Act, which allows detention without trial.
The United States, however, wants the former army officer extradited to face charges that he played a significant role in the September 11 terrorist attacks by suicide plane hijackers.
U.S. investigators believe Mr. Yazid is also a member of Jemaah Islamiah, a Southeast Asia-based Muslim extremist group with suspected ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network. U.S. officials say Mr. Yazid may have hosted two of the September 11 hijackers. He is also believed to have met, financed and signed a letter of introduction for alleged al-Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui the only man so far to be indicted in the United States for the September 11 attacks.
Rejecting the U.S. extradition request, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Monday told reporters that Mr. Yazid is a criminal in Malaysia and will be dealt with under Malaysian law.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has already dismissed U.S. media speculation that Malaysia was the "launch pad" of the attacks in the United States. He says he has also has strong doubts about Mr. Yazid's involvement, saying he has seen no evidence which links him to al-Qaida-sponsored terrorism.