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Friday, 4 January, 2002, 16:10 GMT
Malaysia holds 'militant Muslims'
The 13 are accused of ties with terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui
Malaysia has reportedly arrested 13 suspected members of an Islamic militant group which police said had links with Zacarias Moussaoui, the first man to face charges for the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States.

Police told the state-run Bernama news agency that the suspected members of the Malaysian Mujahideen Group (KMM) were being held because they were believed to be "carrying out activities which are a threat to national security".

Police claim members of the group were in contact with Mr Moussaoui in September and October last year.

A US court earlier this week entered a plea of not guilty for Mr Moussaoui after the 33-year-old Frenchman refused to enter a plea himself.

Militant Muslims are fighting the government in Indonesia too

It is believed the 13 are being held under Malaysia's Internal Security Act, a law which allows for indefinite detention without trial.

Police have been holding at least 10 other suspected members of the KMM without trial since August last year.

Most of them are members or supporters of the opposition Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS), which has denounced the arrests as politically motivated.

'Islamic state'

Malaysia has pledged support to US investigations into the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has previously said the KMM aimed to topple the government and wanted to establish a hard-line Islamic state comprising Malaysia, Indonesia and the southern Philippines.

In the latest arrests, police said they found documents on guerrilla warfare, map-reading and use of firearms, along with "ideology-related" papers and studies of militant Islamic groups in the southern Philippines, the Russian province of Chechnya, Afghanistan and Indonesia.

Islamic militants have gained a strong foothold in parts of South East Asia.

In Indonesia's Aceh province and the southern Philippine islands, they have been waging separatists wars.

In the Moluccas, members of Laskar Jihad were blamed for whipping up attacks on Christians.

In 2000, extremist members of the Nahdlatul Ulama, pledged to lay down their lives to secure the rule of former President Abdurrahman Wahid.

See also:

11 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Malaysian opposition denounces arrests
28 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Death penalty for three Malaysians
26 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Malaysian opposition fear crackdown
24 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Malaysia denies harbouring terrorists
04 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Malaysia's fearsome security law
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