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Homeland Security

SLUG: 2-304191 Singapore Terror (L-O)









INTRO: The Singapore government says a senior member of a Southeast Asian terrorist organization is under arrest after being extradited from Thailand. Correspondent Scott Bobb reports it is the first reported arrest in Thailand of a member of Jemaah Islamiyah, which is accused of masterminding last year's bombings on the Indonesian island, Bali.

TEXT: The Singaporean government said a 42-year-old businessman named John Wong Ah Hung was returned to the country after being detained in Thailand last month.

The statement says the suspect, who also goes by the name of Arifin bin Ali, was a trainer in a unit of the Jemaah Islamiyah group, which has been linked to the al-Qaida terrorist network. He reportedly fled to Malaysia in December 2001, when Singaporean authorities detained dozens of individuals said to be members of J-I.

The government says the group was plotting to bomb several Western embassies in Singapore, the port, and other public facilities.

The Singapore government says Mr. Wong, while in Malaysia, plotted to hijack an airplane and crash it into Singapore's international airport.

The statement says when the plot was uncovered he fled to Thailand, where he plotted with others to bomb five embassies in Bangkok.

Jemaah Islamiyah has been linked not only to the Bali bombings last October, but also to a string of bombings in Indonesia and the Philippines. The attacks are reportedly part of a campaign to establish an Islamic state in Southeast Asia.

The group's alleged spiritual leader, Abu Baker Bashir, is on trial in Jakarta, while several other members are on trial in eastern Indonesia for the Bali bombings.

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Thai officials earlier announced the arrest of a major Jemaah Islamiyah figure, but did not mention any plots in Thailand. Thai police said three men were arrested in the predominantly Muslim south on charges of threatening national security. An official says they are believed to have links to Jemaah Islamiyah.

Thai officials this month acknowledged, for the first time, that international terrorists have been found in the kingdom. But they maintain Thailand has been used primarily as a transit point and meeting place for extremists, and was not itself a target of terrorist attacks.

Western governments on several occasions warned citizens to avoid traveling to Thailand because of possible terrorist attacks. The warnings have angered the Thai government, which says they unjustifiably scare away tourists and foreign investors. (SIGNED)


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