THE Jemaah Islamiah (JI) group remains a threat to Singapore even though two waves of arrests by the Internal Security Department (ISD) have severely disrupted its local network.
The threat is on two fronts, pointed out the White Paper on the JI arrests and the threat of terrorism published by the Singapore government yesterday.
The first is from the JI itself, which wanted to avenge the arrests and detention of 31 of its Singapore members.
Driving this plot is the leader of the Singapore JI branch, Mas Selamat Kastari, who escaped the ISD dragnet in December 2001 with about a dozen others. They have gone into hiding in the region.
Mas Selamat is known to have discussed with other key regional JI leaders still at large, such as Hambali, plans to get back at the Singapore government, including a plot to hijack an American, British or Singapore aircraft and crash it into Changi Airport.
Singapore also has to reckon with the fact that other militant Islamic groups in the region may mount attacks on the republic to show their solidarity with the JI.
Detained JI leader Ibrahim Maidin told the Internal Security Act (ISA) Advisory Board in February last year that the arrests and their attendant publicity had made Singapore a target for groups sympathetic to the JI, the White Paper said.
As for the 31 JI members serving two-year detentions under the ISA, the government said they remained an “active threat” to Singapore’s security. Though they had expressed varying levels of remorse, some still believed they were “duty bound” to wage a jihad against America, it said.
Their detention is also necessary for ongoing investigations to ferret out more Singapore members of the JI or affiliated militant groups such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, based in the southern Philippines.
The terrorist network still has to be deprived of more key operatives and leaders.
The government warned that the threat is “far from over”, a view shared by terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna, who said at a recent forum that the “resilient” JI network could mount more attacks the size of the Oct 12 Bali blasts, which killed 192 people. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network
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