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Friday, 27 September, 2002, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
Malaysia arrests 'key' Islamic militant
Malaysian police chief Norian Mai shows a list of men most wanted for links with terrorism
Police said eight other suspects had fled
Malaysian police say they have arrested a leading Muslim militant.

Wan Min Wan Mat is accused of being a prominent member of the Malaysian Militant Group (KMM) which is said to have close links with the regional Islamic militant organisation Jemaah Islamiah (JI).

The US believes JI holds links with al-Qaeda, and is considering branding it a terrorist organisation.

National police chief Norian Mai said the 42-year-old former university lecturer had been arrested in the northern state of Kelantan on Friday morning.

"I wish to announce the capture of one of our prime suspects related to the Malaysian militant group. He is one of the leaders in the Jemaah Islamiah in Malaysia," Mr Norian said.

The arrest was the latest in a string of detentions of alleged Muslim militants by Malaysian and Singapore authorities, who have alleged that groups like Jemaah Islamiah are trying to destabilise both governments and introduce Islamic rule to Malaysia.

'Trained in Afghanistan'

Mr Norian said the latest detainee was the leader of KMM in the southern Malaysian state of Johor and had received military training in the Philippines in 1996 and in Afghanistan in 2000.

He said eight other suspects were believed to have fled to either Indonesia or Thailand. He said Malaysia was offering a 50,000 ringgit (13,000 US dollar) reward for information that led to the arrest of any of the eight.

Malaysia has detained 62 suspected Islamic militants over the past year, according to the French news agency AFP.

The police chief said on Friday that they all take orders from two men, Riduan Isamuddin and Abubakar Ba'asyir.

Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali, is described as being in charge of JI in Malaysia and Singapore. His whereabouts are unknown.

Abubakar Ba'asyir denies any links with terrorism and lives openly in Indonesia.

Singapore has arrested more than 30 members of JI since the end of last year. It accuses them of plotting to blow up the US embassy and other Western interests in the city state.


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23 Sep 02 | Asia-Pacific
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