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Another alleged JI member detained…but where is Mas Selamat?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 23, 2008

Gerald Giam

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has announced the detention of another alleged Jemaah Islamiah (JI) member. Rijal Yadri bin Jumari, 27, was arrested in February for his involvement in the JI.

According to MHA, at the time of his arrest, Rijal was known to be working with some foreign JI elements to discuss regrouping and reviving the JI’s clandestine network. Rijal was detained without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA) on 20 March.

MHA accused Rijal of being a member of the JI’s “Al-Ghuraba” cell. This was a cell set up by the JI leadership to develop its young members to become trained operatives and future leaders in the organisation. MHA says Rijal was schooled at the JI’s madrasahs. He was one of several students talent-spotted by the JI to be groomed to become a future leader in the JI organisation.

MHA said that in 2000, the JI leadership sent Rijal to Afghanistan to undergo military training. He first arrived in Pakistan where he joined the “Al-Ghuraba” cell. The JI subsequently facilitated his travel to Afghanistan where he underwent terrorist training programmes at Al-Qaeda’s Camp Farouq in Kandahar and also at a terrorist training facility in Kabul at the arrangement of Al-Qaeda. His training included weapons-handling, explosives, surveillance and guerrilla warfare. Rijal met Osama bin Laden on a number of occasions when he was at Camp Farouq.

Rijal returned to this region after his training. When the security action against the JI commenced in the region, Rijal went on the run to evade the authorities. In particular, he remained away from Singapore and has been in hiding overseas to avoid pursuit by Singapore authorities. Earlier this year, the Internal Security Department (ISD) managed to pin down Rijal’s exact whereabouts. He was arrested with the cooperation of “regional authorities”. MHA did not say which country he was arrested and extradited from.

Commentary

If MHA’s allegations are true, Rijal is an extremely high value detainee, perhaps rivalling Mas Selamat himself. He had been trained in Afghanistan to be a future JI leader, met Osama bin Laden on several occasions and had managed to evade authorities since 2001 — all before the tender age of 27.

The timing of Rijal’s arrest and announcement is certainly very interesting. MHA said Rijal was arrested in February but didn’t specify which date exactly. Fellow detainee Mas Selamat Kastari escaped from the Whitley Road Detention Centre on 27 February. Given Rijal’s credentials, Mas Selamat must have known Rijal well. Is there any link between Rijal’s arrest and Mas Selamat’s escape? Conspiracy theorists are sure to have a field day speculating whether Rijal’s arrest was an attempt to distract from the embarrassment of Mas Selamat’s escape.

Where is Mas?

It has been almost a month since Mas Selamat’s escape, and thousands of policemen, Gurkhas and military personnel, not to mention the whole Singapore population, have not been able to find him yet.

The most common conspiracy theory being circulated is that Mas Selamat was killed or committed suicide while in detention, and the authorities claimed he escaped in order to avoid blame for his death. The reasoning goes that if he was killed by the Singapore authorities, that would make him a martyr in the eyes of his JI comrades around the region. This would give them a reason to double up efforts to wage jihad against Singapore.

While I would contend that this is not impossible, I think it is highly unlikely. The political fallout from Mas Selamat’s embarrassing escape is greater than if he died quietly in detention. Given our political leaders’ overarching priority to ensure the population’s high esteem for themselves, it is quite inconceivable that they would cook up a story that a man with a limp escaped while on his toilet break.

However, I am not convinced that Mas Selamat is still in Singapore as the authorities have repeatedly insisted. It would have been foolish of Mas Selamat to dash out of the detention centre without anyone outside to help him. It is more likely that he jumped into a waiting vehicle which took him straight to the coast and sped off in a boat to safe refuge in one of the Indonesian islands. Local papers had reported that a SingPost van was stolen on the day Mas Selamat escaped.

On 18 March, The Jakarta Post reported that Indonesian police believed Mas Selamat “would not be far” from the hideout of fellow terrorist, Noordin Mohd Top, in Tuban, East Java. This was emphatically denied by the MHA.

Previously, on 8 March, TODAY reported that Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew does not believe Mas Selamat Kastari poses a threat if he remains at large in Singapore. But if he has escaped across the border, Mr Lee warned that Singaporeans would have to watch out for a return hit by Mas Selamat.

This gives our authorities even more reason not to admit (or believe themselves) that Mas Selamat has left our shores. It could be a head-in-the-sand reaction. If indeed Mas Selamat is in East Java, and MM Lee is right that he could launch a “return hit” from there, then Singapore‘s terrorist threat level needs to be raised several notches. This will have an impact on investor confidence and by extension, Singapore‘s economy.

Of course while I too pray that this is not true, I hope that our intelligence agencies have not simply dismissed the Indonesian police’s assessment without further investigation. It would be outrageous if, in the effort to keep up appearances that Mas Selamat is still in Singapore, the “Great Singapore Lockdown” continues indefinitely for no good reason, while Mas Selamat watches from afar as he plans his next attack on Singapore.

Read also: The Inquirer’s (Philippines) report: RP alerted to escaped terror suspect.

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16 Responses to “Another alleged JI member detained…but where is Mas Selamat?”

  1. Joker said

    This newly alleged would-be “terrorist” in only 27 years old.
    And he has evaded authorities since 2001. In 2001, he was only
    20 years old. He had to do National Service from 18 to 20 years
    old. That means he went to Afghanistan for his training before
    he was 18 years old. Can we assume or presume all that?

    If so, then that pre-18-year-old boy, before 1989, must be hell
    of a boy, man! He is no ordinary person, man! So, I just wonder
    how many more of such people do Singapore has? So, why should
    Singaporeans be complaining that we do not have good opposition
    leaders?

    See? We have such outstanding youngsters in our midst, yet we do
    not know anything about them!

    Perhaps Opposition political parties better start hunting for such
    outstanding and talented youngsters to beef up their ranks!

    Hahahaha ………… Really, I take it as another joke!

  2. Daniel said

    You are asking right question ‘Where exactly is Selamat ?’

    You see the government is once again doing a distraction act by capturing a scapegoat and releasing another harmless ‘so-called terrorist’ at the same time. This is used to soften people’s impact towards Selamat’s issue and has the intention of ‘moving on’. This is a nice trick that is used for redemption.
    Very soon, ppl will forget about Selamat’s issue.

    I do not think Selamat will be captured ever again. So next election, ask the government ‘WHERE IS SELAMAT ?’

  3. RS said

    Singaporeans suffer from chronic amnesia. They will not ask.

    Anyway, this new Rijal guy is going to really going to suffer. No toilet breaks for him. Ever!

  4. worried said

    bring it down a level – to the family of Mas Selamat. Should they sue the govt for misplacing their father – someone who is jailed without a trial, not seen again and MHA is not able to produce a body? I feel this is a retribution for all the people wrongly jailed in there – Francis Seow, Marxist Catholics – and I hope the young ministers find out the truth themselves before swallowing what is served by the states wholesale. Were they really guilty? Or was the govt just stomping out any criticism of the govt of the day. Really, a 27 year old malay meeting Osama? Wow, fantastic scriptwriting.

  5. patriot said

    Singaporeans should just hold back until such time when evidence(s) are tangibly produced to prove that there are indeed Singaporean Terrorist(s) existing amongst us.

    The news of terrorists amongst us as they are now, to us the people, are liked hearsay, that is we read/heard from the news medias and people talking about them. As these so called terrorists have not done the slightest damage yet, it is hard for us to believe that they are capable of executing their plans. Although their existence should not be ruled out, their alleged intentions such as to ram a plane into Changi Airport seems ‘too grand’ a scheme to me.

    If damages to lives and property are the intentions, common sense will tell us that there are many effective ways to go about it, hence, the question WE MUST ASK is; why no such attempts were ever made before and after 9/11 which happened nearly seven years ago?

    The people must also be mindful that there could be more agenda beyond terrorism.

  6. Daniel said

    I suggest we jailed all action-pack movie directors because the scope of their imaginations are far greater than Selamat. Selamat can only think of plane crashing on control tower but movie director thinking of violence, ship bombing and all sort of action. Scapegoat is scapegoat because trying to convict someone just because he has certain creative script in mind and yet because he has not acted on it.

    Should never convict someone unless proven guilty.

  7. cotr said

    Patriot,

    They were imprisoned for plotting to, not because they did carry out or because they had all the resources to carry out acts of terrorism against the state. I suppose it must have been difficult to gather evidence signalling the JI members’ intention to, but the security services have produced an array of evidence, from weapons to orders for explosive substances to reconaissance videos of target spots. Besides this there were likely intelligence reports (unreliable and not) that these persons were planning attacks against the state, but I think the evidence is the more compelling.

  8. Meepokman said

    Its a good article, but maybe they should elborate more on the following
    information

    The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has announced the detention of ANOTHER ALLEGED Jemaah Islamiah (JI) member.

    MHA ACCUSED Rijal of being a member of the JI’s

    ARRESTED in February ? now we get the news ?

    He was arrested with the cooperation of “regional authorities”. MHA did not say which COUNTRY he was arrested and extradited from.

  9. ontherun said

    Patriot and Cotr,

    No one can be put behind bars for that length of time without evidence and a good case against him. I believe that they actually had extracted items like weapons and reconnaissance videos of target spots, at least, from members of this radical cell group. Apart from that there were probably witness statements attesting that the group has attempted to recruit new members and told of its plans to launch attacks against the state. That persons like the fugitive haven’t gone on trial (as terrorists elsewhere would have had to) is probably due to the thwarting of the plot and a grudging tolerance for those who’ve strayed off the path of moderate religion.

  10. ontherun said

    Patriot and Cotr,

    No one can be put behind bars for that length of time without evidence and a good case against him/her. I believe that they had actually extracted items like weapons and reconnaissance videos of target spots, at least, from members of this radical cell group. Apart from that there were probably witnesses attesting that the group has attempted to recruit new members and told of its plans to launch attacks against the state. That persons like the fugitive haven’t gone on trial (as terrorists elsewhere would have had to) is probably due to the thwarting of the plot and a grudging tolerance for those who’ve strayed off the path of moderation.

  11. Dingo said

    di·ver·sion
    /dɪˈvɜrʒən, -ʃən, daɪ-/

    1. the act of diverting or turning aside, as from a course or purpose: a diversion of industry into the war effort.
    2. a channel made to divert the flow of water from one course to another or to direct the flow of water draining from a piece of ground.
    3. British. a detour on a highway or road.
    4. distraction from business, care, etc.; recreation; amusement; a pastime: Movies are his favorite diversion.
    5. Military. a feint intended to draw off attention from the point of main attack.

  12. […] Break, Singapore Style – The Online Citizen: Another alleged JI member detained…but where is Mas Selamat? – Yawning Bread: Improving the Internal Security Act – BothSidesOfTheJohorStraits: Jail the hoaxer; […]

  13. Geylang Resident said

    Dear Geylang Resident,

    Your comments are disallowed. The article is about the escape from the Whitley detention centre. Your comments about the situation in Geylang has no relevance to the topic of the article.

    Moderator.

  14. Jason Loke said

    Can someone enlighten me if he walks with a limp or run with a limp on the left leg? Or only if he walks briskly, the limp is obvious.

    The public can only help to inform if more details are furnished.
    To err on the wrong side?

  15. […] – The Online Citizen […]

  16. […] Another alleged JI member detained…but where is Mas Selamat?, theonlinecitizen.com […]

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