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Malaysia Postpones Deportation of Suspected Terrorist - 2003-12-21


Malaysian authorities have delayed the deportation of a suspected senior member of the regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah. Immigration authorities in Malaysia gave no reason for postponing the deportation.

His wife, who was to travel with him, said he never arrived at the airport in Malaysia. She says she does not know why he was not deported.

Mr. Iqbal was arrested in June 2001 under Malaysia's tough Internal Security Act, which allows suspects to be detained indefinitely without trial.

He was released in August, but soon after that Malaysian officials revoked his permanent resident status and arrested him for deportation to Indonesia.

Indonesian authorities say they have no grounds to arrest Mr. Iqbal, so he will be a free man, once he returns to his home country.

The United States suspects Mr. Iqbal is a senior member of the regional terrorist network, Jemaah Islamiyah.

The group is accused of masterminding the Bali nightclub bombings in 2002 that killed more than 200 people. It also is suspected in a number of other bombings and in plots to attack Western embassies and other facilities in several Southeast Asian countries.

Washington has frozen Mr. Iqbal's assets and designated him a terrorist. The United States has raised concerns the 46-year-old cleric would go free upon his return to Indonesia.

Mr. Iqbal's wife denies that he is a terrorist.