Leader admits US base in S’pore targeted


The Singapore head of the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) yesterday admitted in court that the terrorist network had planned to blow up a US naval facility in Singapore.

Singapore-born Mas Selamat Kastari also accused terrorist fugitive Riduan Isamuddin alias Hambali of masterminding the plot.

Mas Selamat was testifying at the treason trial of the alleged spiritual head of JI, Abu Bakar Bashir.

His admission, the first by a JI member in public, confirmed what the authorities had long believed.

Singapore officials had said that the terrorist network had on its list several targets, including a US vessel at Changi naval base and a pub it believed was frequented by American military personnel.

Other targets were vital water supply pipelines from Malaysia, Changi Airport, Jurong Island where Singapore’s oil refineries and petrochemical plants are based, and the Ministry of Defence headquarters.

At the trial, Mas Selamat when cross-examined by prosecutors appeared more than willing to disclose information on what the JI had planned to do in Singapore.

He said: ‘When I was in Singapore, there was a plan to destroy the US base there.

‘The idea to destroy the base came from Hambali. We just made plans, but never implemented them.’

Mas Selamat was arrested in February this year by the authorities after being on the run for more than a year.

Indonesian intelligence officials said his disclosure in court yesterday was especially significant because it showed that Hambali was deeply involved in the operations.

‘We already know that the JI had planned a series of attacks in Singapore and the region,’ a senior official told The Straits Times.

‘What is more important is that it reveals Hambali’s fingerprints again in another possible terrorist attack and shows what he was capable of doing and what he might do in the future.’

Well-placed sources here told The Straits Times that Mas Selamat decided to reveal Hambali’s involvement after a deal struck with Indonesian security agencies in return possibly for a lighter sentence.

Mas Selamat is charged with immigration violations and falsifying documents to enter Indonesia – charges that could see him serve more than five years in prison.

Noted a diplomatic source: ‘The Indonesians are trying to nail Hambali in whatever way they can.’

They appeared to be making some headway. The reverse was happening against alleged terror chief Abu Bakar Bashir, who is believed to be JI’s spiritual head.

At his trial yesterday, three witnesses failed to link the radical cleric with the deadly Bali bombings last year.

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