SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore has detained a member of the militant Islamic group Jemaah Islamiyah who had trained at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and was being groomed for a JI leadership position, the government said on Sunday.
Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement it issued a detention order for JI member Rijal Yadri bin Jumari on March 20 under the Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial.
The JI has been blamed for several deadly bombing attacks in Southeast Asia, including the 2002 bombings that killed more than 200 people on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali.
The Ministry of Home Affairs’ said 27-year-old Rijal was arrested outside Singapore in February with the cooperation of regional authorities. It did not say where or how he was caught.
“At the time of his arrest, Rijal was known to be working with some foreign JI elements to discuss regrouping and reviving the JI’s clandestine network,” the statement said.
It said Rijal was a member of the JI’s “Al-Ghuraba” cell, set up by the group’s leadership to develop young members, and that he was schooled at the JI’s madrasahs.
“He was one of several students talent-spotted by the JI to be groomed to become a future leader in the JI organisation,” Singapore said.
According to the ministry’s statement, the JI leadership sent Rijal to Afghanistan in 2000 to undergo military training at al Qaeda’s Camp Farouq in Kandahar and also at a training facility in Kabul at the arrangement of al Qaeda.
“His training included weapons-handling, explosives, surveillance and guerrilla warfare. Rijal met Osama bin Laden on a number of occasions,” the statement added.
The ministry said Rijal returned to Southeast Asia after his training and when the security action against the JI commenced in the region, he “went on the run to evade the authorities”.
Meanwhile, local police are continuing their hunt for Mas Selamat bin Kastari, the suspected leader of the JI’s Singapore wing, who escaped a detention centre on Feb. 27.
Experts said the escape was an embarrassment for Singapore, which prides itself on having a sophisticated security system, and that Mas Selamat may have headed to Indonesia seeking support from local JI networks.
Singapore’s authorities say Selamat is still on the island, and have been conducting security checks on its coastal borders.
The same statement said Anis bin Mohamad Mansor, detained since February 2004 for “activities in support of the JI”, was released on Feb. 10, 2008, when his detention order expired.
“He had cooperated in investigations and had responded positively to rehabilitation, including religious counselling,” Singapore’s statement said.