S’pore ready to help prove terror links

Jakarta may be given access to Jemaah Islamiah members in Singapore in order to prove links with Indonesian suspects.

SINGAPORE yesterday said its security agencies were prepared to facilitate direct investigations by their Indonesian counterparts to confirm links existed between two Indonesian suspects and members of a terrorist group in the Republic.

This could include giving Indonesia access to interview detained members of the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) militant group in Singapore.

A Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, responding to media queries in Singapore, said the security agencies had on several occasions shared all available intelligence with their Indonesian counterparts.

This covered the links between detained JI members and clerics Abu Bakar Bashir – who had a leadership role in the Singapore JI network – and Hambali, another suspected network leader.

Abu Bakar is known to be living openly in Solo, Central Java, while Hambali is also believed to be in Indonesia.

The spokesman noted, however, that several Indonesian officials nevertheless claimed they needed more evidence in order to take action.

‘Singapore security agencies have told them that they are prepared to facilitate direct investigations by Indonesian security agencies to confirm links between the JI network in Singapore and key Indonesians like Abu Bakar Bashir and Hambali,’ he said.

‘This can include access to detained members of the JI network in Singapore.’

Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng, who was at a Chinese New Year dinner in Bishan East, said last night that information had been shared.

He was thus surprised at the Indonesian reaction to Sunday’s remarks by Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who said terrorist leaders were in Indonesia.

‘From what we know, some of the detainees themselves have identified Abu Bakar Bashir as their leader, their amir. So what more do they want to have? Our intelligence agencies have shared the information with the relevant agencies in Indonesia,’ he said.

‘We’re just surprised they would make such comments because this has been publicised for many weeks already and SM is not the first one to say it and it is not the first time it is out in the papers.’

But in Jakarta, Indonesian leaders continued to protest. Vice-President Hamzah Haz said an official letter would be sent to Mr Lee asking for clarification of his comments.

He said otherwise Indonesia could be seen as a base for extremist elements.

‘We will leave it to the government to write the letter,’ he said after attending Friday prayers.

‘And as the comments were made in public, we hope the clarification will be made in public as well so the world will know. We certainly don’t want to suffer as a result of those comments.’

He said the comments could discourage foreign investors and others from coming to Indonesia.

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