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Singapore Issues 5 International Arrest Warrants For Suspected Terrorists - 2002-09-25

The Singapore government says suspected terrorists belonging to the Jemaah Islamiah group say two Indonesian Muslim clerics directed their activities.

Singapore's Home Affairs minister says that the government has issued five international arrest warrants for suspected members of Jemaah Islamiah who have fled the city state. He says 10-12 suspects now in Singaporean custody on terrorism charges are helping find other members of the group.

In an interview published on the Home Affairs website, Minister Wong Kan Seng said that several of the detainees say that Abu Bakar Bashir, a Muslim cleric in Indonesia, and Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali, head the Jemaah Islamiah. The minister says that the man known as Hambali, whose whereabouts are not known, gave instructions to some of the detainees to go to Afghanistan for alleged "terrorist-linked training."

Thirty-one alleged members of Jemaah Islamiah are being held in Singapore under internal security laws, which allow for detention without trial for two years. Dozens more are in custody in Malaysia.

The Homes Affairs Ministry says there are as many as 80 suspected Jemaah Islamiah members in the city state. Colonel Bernard Toh is a spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Defense. "I think the investigations by the Home Affairs authority have clearly indicated that this is the group that poses a security risk to Singapore and that is quite clear," the colonel explained.

One of the arrest warrants issued by Singapore include a suspect who allegedly planned to crash an airplane into Singapore's Changi airport.

Authorities in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines say Jemaah Islamiah members plotted a series of attacks around the region. Among their alleged targets were Western embassies, U.S. Navy ships, and the Singapore Ministry of Defense.

Singapore also says Jemaah Islamiah has links to the al-Qaida network, which is blamed for terrorists attacks in the United States last year.

The United States is investigating Jemaah Islamiah and cleric Abu Bakar Bashir. An American diplomat said Tuesday the United States is considering designating the group Mr. Bashir leads as a terrorist organization.

Singapore has been calling for Indonesia to arrest Mr. Bashir. Jakarta says there is not enough evidence against the cleric, but they are investigating. Mr. Bashir has repeatedly denied terrorist involvement.

Jemaah Islamiah aims to create an Islamic state across parts of Southeast Asia. It is alleged to have links to militant groups in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia.