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Deportation of terror suspect: Indonesia and Singapore moving towards closer cooperation

Updated On: Feb 10, 2006

Singapore’s most wanted terror suspect, Mas Selamat Kastari has been arrested and deported back to Singapore by the Indonesian police.

As reported in the Antara news, the Deputy Head of the Nation Police’s Public Relations Division, Brig. Gen. Anton expressed his hope that “the deportation could be a first step of good cooperation between the Singapore Police and the Indonesian Police since Indonesia has significant interest in seeking the country’s wealth back from Indonesian corruptors hiding in Singapore”.

Selamat Kastari was the head of the Singapore Jemaah Islamiah (JI) branch and had wanted to crash a plane into Changi Airport. Other targets included a United States naval facility, water supply pipelines from MalaysiaJurong Island and the Ministry of Defence HQ. He had also planned to attack US personnel in a shuttle-bus service between Sembawang and Yishun MRT stations.

Kastari fled Singapore in 2001and was arrested in 2003 and imprisoned for eight months for violating Indonesia’s immigration regulation. He was arrested again for the same offence and was jailed for 15 months. He is “currently arrested under the Internal Security Act and investigation into his case will now proceed,” said a Singapore Home Affairs Ministry (MHA) spokesman.

According to MHA, Singapore government is holding 36 terror suspects under the Internal Security Act which allows the detention without trial of those deemed a threat to the State. Cases are reviewed by a government-appointed panel at least every 12 months.

Terrorist experts say that having him back on home ground may reveal new information on JI activities in Singapore. “Singapore will be very interested in figuring out about what he knows about possible support or even active JI cells here,” said Dr John Harrison, manager of NTU’s International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research to a New Paper reporter. Experts pointed out that the Indonesian authorities did not make public any information that Kastari may have given them.

Dr Harrison further commented that “the government dragnet on JI members has resulted in the group being greatly fragmented and because of the fragmentation, it is not certain if there is still a common control within JI and if so, what kind of influence Mas Selamat has.”

Indonesian police are prepared to send more terror suspects to Singapore after last week’s deportation, signalling that calls for closer regional cooperation are heeded. This came after Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono call for greater collaboration in the region against terrorist. The deportation is a significant development in the close cooperation between intelligence officers in the region.

Sources:

Indonesia confirms deportation of Slamet Kastari to Singapore (Antara News, 7 Feb 2006)

* JI man always on the move, family in tow (The Straits Times, 7 Feb 2006)

* JI terror suspect sent back to Singapore after arrest in Indonesia (Channel News Asia, 6 Feb 2006)

* What JI secrets will he tell? (The New Paper, 8 Feb 2006)

* Indonesian police prepared to send more suspects to Singapore (Bloomberg, 8 Feb 2006)

* Extradition treaty with S’pore still a work in process (Jakarta Post, 6 Feb 2006)