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American Terror Suspect Fights Deportation from Malaysia - 2002-10-08


An American citizen wanted on terrorism charges in the United States is fighting deportation from Malaysia and the case is expected to go to court Wednesday. The man has been linked to a group of people arrested last week in the United States.

Malaysian officials say Ahmed Ibrahim Bilal gave himself up and was handed over to police. They say Mr. Bilal will likely be deported because his U.S. passport has been revoked, making him an illegal immigrant. He apparently had been in Malaysia attending a university.

Mr. Bilal is among six Americans indicted last week in the United States, his brother also is part of the group. Three of them have pleaded innocent, while a fourth has yet to appear in court. A sixth man is still at large.

The six are accused of conspiring to make war against the United States and of aiding the al-Qaida terrorist network. They are accused of acquiring firearms after the September 11 attacks on the United States, and trying to go to Afghanistan to join the al-Qaida forces. They are to go on trial later this year.

Malaysia this year has arrested dozens of individuals suspected of seeking to establish an Islamic state in Southeast Asia and plotting terror attacks in the region. Some of the detainees have been linked to al-Qaida. One suspect is accused of hosting two of the September 11 suicide pilots at his home in Malaysia.

Singapore also has arrested dozens of people accused of plotting to bomb Western embassies, government buildings and rail stations.

Singapore's Interior Minister Wong Kan Seng recently told reporters that Singaporeans should not be alarmed by the revelations of terrorist activities in the country. "Although we have to take into account the fact that some of them [terrorists] have discussed and even conducted recce's [reconnaissance] in these few places, no plans have been developed to do anything untoward to those buildings," Mr. Wong said.

He added that security at government buildings and public transportation centers has been strengthened since last year.

Singapore's Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong Tuesday appealed to foreign investors to remain in the region and work with regional governments to counter the terrorist threat. Speaking at a regional economic forum meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Mr. Goh said governments are on top of the issue and although terrorists may cause problems in the short-term, in the long-term they will lose.