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Malaysia Arrests 4 Members of Group Linked to Al-Qaida - 2002-10-16

Malaysia has arrested four members of the Jemaah Islamiah group, which is linked to the al-Qaida terror network. Al-Qaida has been implicated in a deadly bombing in Bali, but these four suspects do not appear to have been involved.

Malaysia's chief of police, Norian Mai, announced the detentions Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur. He said two of the detained men trained in Afghanistan and one of them had what he called specific links to the al-Qaida network.

He said the authorities had reason to consider the detainees a threat to national security. He indicated he did not think they were involved in the bomb attacks in Bali.

Government officials in Indonesia and several of its neighbors have said there are indications al-Qaida, and its regional ally, Jemaah Islamiah, staged the bombings. Indonesia was hit by three bomb attacks Saturday, one in Bali killed more than 180 people.

Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines have arrested scores of individuals this year on suspicion of involvement in Jemaah Islamiah. They say the group is responsible for bombings in Indonesia and the Philippines in recent years that have killed dozens of people. They charge the group planned major attacks on western embassies and government installations in Singapore this year.

Security experts in the region say only Jemaah Islamiah and al-Qaida posses the technical expertise and organizational ability to stage such attacks.

Western governments say the leader of Jemaah Islamiah is a religious teacher living in central Indonesia. They want him arrested, but Indonesia says it needs proof. Since the attacks in Bali, the Indonesian government is reportedly considering emergency measures to allow it to detain suspected terrorists without charges.