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Singapore Arrests 21 Suspected of al-Qaida Links - 2002-09-16

The Singapore government has announced the arrest of 21 suspected terrorists believed to be linked to the al-Qaida network. All are believed to have been involved in a thwarted plot to blow up the American and Israeli embassies as well as other Western targets in the city-state.

Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs says it arrested 21 Singapore citizens, 19 of whom are or have been members of Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional Islamic group. The group has been linked to the al-Qaida terrorist network accused of carrying out the September 11 attacks in the United States.

Two of the suspects have alleged ties to the Philippine-based Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The ministry says the latest arrests, which were made in August, are the result of investigations conducted after the government detained 13 suspected terrorists in December.

All are alleged to have plotted to bomb the American Embassy, the Israeli Embassy, and transport facilities ferrying U.S. personnel in Singapore. The 34 suspects are being held under the Internal Security Act, which allows for indefinite detention.

The ministry charges that a few of the men underwent military training at al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan and at the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's Camp in the southern Philippines. The government alleges several suspects conducted reconnaissance and surveys of selected targets in Singapore.

The government says the latest arrests have seriously disrupted the Jemaah Islamiah network in Singapore. It stresses there is no known imminent security threat.

The ministry says investigations are continuing and more details will be released soon.

Singapore has been one of Southeast Asia's most cooperative countries in the U.S.-led war on terror. A long-time ally of Washington, Singapore hosts a U.S. Navy logistics base.