09 November, 2002

Malaysia police re-arrest suspected Islamic militant

By Jalil Hamid

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian police re-arrested a member of a militant group with ties to al Qaeda on Saturday, minutes after he was released from detention following a court order, his lawyer said.
Nasharuddin Nasir, who authorities say is a member of the Southeast Asian Islamic group Jemaah Islamiah, was taken under police escort from the Kamunting detention camp in northern Malaysia to a nearby police station.
"He was re-arrested and immediately sent back to the Kamunting camp for a fresh two-year detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA)," lawyer Saiful Izham told Reuters by telephone from Kamunting.
Nasharuddin had been held since April under the ISA, a legacy of British colonial rule in Malaysia that allows indefinite detention without trial.
The High Court in Shah Alam near Kuala Lumpur freed Nasharuddin on Friday after quashing a government detention order alleging his involvement with Jemaah Islamiah, lawyers said.
Saiful said he went to Kamunting at noon on Saturday to serve the court order.
"We were told to wait outside the camp, but there were no signs of him," he said. "We later realised he had been taken to a police station by an unmarked police car where he was re-arrested."
"The authorities are using technicality to frustrate the court order. We plan to lodge a contempt of court proceeding," he said.
High Court judge Suriyadi Halim Omar allowed an order of habeas corpus after Nasharuddin, a 45-year-old trader, argued there was no evidence for the various allegations in the detention order, said another of his lawyers, Sivarasa Rasiah.
Malaysia is now holding about 70 suspected militants under the ISA. The series of detentions dates back to before last year's September 11 attacks on the United States.
Authorities say Jemaah Islamiah is intent on building a Muslim state spanning the southern Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and southern Thailand.
Police have also linked the group to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, blamed for the September 11 attacks.
Singapore has rounded up dozens of Jemaah members, accusing it of plotting to attack American targets in the city state.
Indonesia's Defence Minister Matori Abdul Djalil said on Friday he was convinced last month's bomb attacks in Bali were the work of the al Qaeda, based on police findings from a key suspect arrested this week. But Jakarta had yet to firmly link Jemaah to the Bali blasts.
In the original detention order issued against him, authorities alleged that Nasharuddin joined Jemaah Islamiah in 1996, and was elected a district leader in 1999.
He was alleged to have raised donations and recruited members in support of the group's goal of creating a pan-Islamic state.
He was also alleged to have attended two military training sessions in Malaysia, run by two Indonesians, and sent money to a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines and Islamic militants fighting Christians in Indonesia's eastern island of Ambon.
Sivarasa said Nasharuddin challenged the truth of the allegations in three affidavits filed in court, asserting his detention was unlawful.
Rights groups hailed the court's decision to free Nasharuddin as a "landmark and wise judgment."
"We call on the police and the Home Minister not to re-arrest Nasharuddin...as the action would be a clear contempt of court to the world," Yap Swee Seng, secretary of the Abolish ISA Movement, said in a statement issued before Nasharuddin's re-arrest.