Malaysian police captured a terror suspect, Mas Selamat Kastari, on April 1, more than a year after he escaped from a high-security detention centre in Singapore.
Mas Selamat is the alleged head of al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, and is accused of terrorist activity in Indonesia, and a plot to crash a plane into Singapore’s international Changi Airport.
He was recaptured from his year-long hideout in Malaysia by Malaysia’s Special Branch, in cooperation with Singapore’s Internal Security Department.
Mas Selamat is currently being held by the Malaysian government, Singapore’s Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng said.
“The Malaysians want to continue to interview him and we’ll let them do the job and when they feel that it’s time to send him back to us, we’ll be happy to receive him back,” said Wong.
Mas Selamat had escaped from the Whitley Road Detention Centre in Singapore on 27 February 2008, having been deported to Singapore from Indonesia prior to that. His escape sparked off a massive manhunt, and opened the Internal Security Department’s operations to public scrutiny. Public opinion was dismayed at the perceived lack of security that created the conditions for his escape, with Wong himself noting in an April 2008 report in Parliament that the security lapses at the detention centre “turned out to be so simple as to appear silly and incredible”.
His recapture by the Malaysian Special Branch is being lauded as a sign of close counter-terrorism cooperation between the 2 states. Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was notified by Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak on April 11 2009 of the capture.
The time lag between his recapture and the government’s reporting of the news is attributed to the security forces’ need for secrecy in order to conduct related security operations. However, a news leak caused the Singapore government to confirm the news on May 7.
Bloomberg, Singapore Terrorist Suspect Captured in Malaysia , 8 May 2009, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601080&sid=aRTJ17y4V7q8&refer=a...
Channel News Asia, Mas Selamat's re-arrest not the end of Singapore's problem , 9 May 2009,http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/428076/1/...