Before going on to the AP report below, do also read what I wrote back in June 2007 in Taking It At Face Value And Keeping Quiet AND Singapore’s Guantanamo. Apart from what I’ve already written in these earlier posts, I guess what will be on everybody’s mind this time round is the question “How the hell did he do it?!”. To escape from a place where even truth cannot get out.
SINGAPORE (AP) — The suspected local leader of a Southeast Asian terrorist network, who allegedly plotted to crash a plane into Singapore’s airport, escaped Wednesday from a detention center, authorities said.
Mas Selamat Kastari, said to be commander of the Jemaah Islamiyah militant group’s Singapore arm, was allegedly involved in plans about seven years ago to attack Singapore targets including the U.S. Embassy, the American Club and government buildings.
“Mas Selamat was the leader of the Singapore (Jemaah Islamiyah) network. He walks with a limp and is presently at large,” the Home Affairs Ministry said in a statement. “Extensive police resources have been deployed to track him down.”
It did not say how he escaped.
Several riot police trucks were parked along main roads near the Whitley Road Detention Center, from which Mas Selamat escaped. Dozens of police officers checked passing cars.
Singapore, a close ally of the United States, was named as an al-Qaida target in a transcript from alleged al-Qaida operative Khalid Sheikh Mohamed’s Combatant Status Review Tribunal, held last year at the U.S. military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The ministry said Mas Selamat also plotted to hijack an airplane and crash it into Singapore’s main airport, Changi, in retaliation for the country’s arrest and detention of some of his fellow Jemaah Islamiyah members in a crackdown on the militant group’s operatives here. The alleged schemes were never carried out.
Mas Selamat left Singapore in December 2001 following the arrests of nearly 40 other suspected Jemaah Islamiyah members.
The ministry’s Web site said Indonesian authorities detained him in February 2003 on charges related to possession of falsified identification documents. They deported him to Singapore in February 2006, the ministry said.
Mas Selamat has since been held in custody under Singapore’s Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial.
Since 2002, Jemaah Islamiyah has been blamed for a series of terror attacks that killed more than 250 people, most of them in Indonesia. Scores of its suspected operatives have been arrested across Southeast Asia since 2000.