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Saturday March 1, 2008
By EDDIE CHUA
KUALA LUMPUR: Singapore’s most wanted terror fugitive, Mas Selamat Kestari, who had worked with Malaysian Jemaah Islamiah members to carry out terrorist activities at one time, is believed to have fled the island state for Indonesia.
Regional security sources believe Mas Selamat, who escaped from the Whitley Road Detention Centre in Singapore on Wednesday, had already made his way to a cluster of Indonesian islands, some 45 minutes by speedboat from Singapore.
“Mas Selamat knows the backdoor to Bintan and other Indonesian islands by heart. He was a frequent traveller when he was allegedly heading the JI network in the republic.”
The source said based on Mas Selamat’s interrogation reports, he had admitted that he and some JI members in Singapore and Malaysia had used the backdoor to access Indonesia before their clandestine network was exposed in 2001.
“We believe he fled to Indonesia soon after he escaped from the detention centre amidst a major manhunt mounted to recapture him in the island state.”
A spokesman for Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs told The Star yesterday its manhunt continued with extensive police, armed forces and other security resources deployed.
Yesterday, Interpol also issued a worldwide alert on Mas Selamat.
The Interpol Orange alert, which was posted on Interpol website, stated that Mas Selamat posed a risk to risk to the safety and security of citizens worldwide.
Mas Selamat had been accused of planning to hijack a plane and crash it into Singapore’s Changi Airport. He and JI leader Hambali, a Malaysian, who was also linked to the Al-Qaeda network, had planned to use seven bomb-filled trucks from Malaysia to bomb foreign embassies and other important facilities in Singapore.
Trained in guerrilla warfare in Afghanistan, Mas Selamat, was also said to be closely associated with Noordin Muhamad Top, a Malaysian fugitive on the run in Indonesia, who had been implicated in a series of bombings in Jakarta and Bali.
Mas Selamat, who walks with a limp, was arrested in Bintan near Singapore in 2003 and sentenced to 18 months in jail for using a fake Indonesian identity.
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