Malaysia terror suspects linked to Nigeria bomber: report

(The Sydney Morning Herald) – Ten terrorism suspects detained in Malaysia are believed to be linked to the Nigerian student responsible for the botched Christmas Day plane bombing near Detroit, a report said Thursday.

Malaysia said Wednesday it had arrested the 10, including nine foreigners, for “acts of terrorism” and that they were members of an international terror outfit tracked down in cooperation with foreign intelligence groups.

The government-linked New Straits Times said the 10, including several Nigerians, were linked to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who allegedly tried to detonate explosives on the Northwest Airlines plane approaching Detroit.

“It was learnt that foreign anti-terrorism agencies informed Malaysian authorities that the 10 were linked to Abdulmutallab and that they were in Malaysia,” said the paper.

The English-language daily did not cite any sources for its front-page report.

Malaysian police chief Musa Hassan refused to confirm or dismiss the report.

“I cannot reveal anything, it’s still under investigation,” he told AFP.

“I am not denying anything,” he added.

Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Wednesday that the 10 were being held under the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows for indefinite detention without trial.

Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, chairman of the Abolish ISA Movement, said the activist group would later Thursday release the names and nationalities of the 10 suspects.

“The detainees come mainly from Yemen, Syria, Nigeria and Jordan. I don’t know if there are any terror links,” he told AFP.

Syed Ibrahim would not say where the group obtained the information but it typically maintains a close watch on new ISA detentions, and periodically releases details of the number being held.

Hishammuddin had said that “all 10 are involved in international terrorism” but would not reveal whether they had planned or carried out attacks. He also declined to say when and where they were arrested.

“They are internationally linked and will affect the security of our country if we do not take action,” he said. “We have worked with international intelligence organisations in this operation.”

Malaysia’s controversial ISA has been used in the past against alleged militants, including members of regional extremist organisation Jemaah Islamiyah, which is linked to Al-Qaeda.