Singapore continues manhunt for escaped terrorist

March 3rd, 2008 - 2:42 pm ICT by admin  

DPA
Singapore, March 3 (DPA) The high-tempo manhunt for terrorist suspect Mas Selamat Kastari will go on until the fugitive who escaped from a high-security detention centre is caught, Singapore police said Monday. “We’re prepared to sustain this for the long haul,” said Assistant Commissioner Wong Hong Kuan on the sixth day of the manhunt. “If a person is determined to hide, he can hide for weeks.”

More than 1,000 officers from the Special Operations Command, police land divisions, Gurkhas and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority have been searching since Wednesday for the 47-year-old man accused of plotting in 2001 to hijack a plane and crash it into Singapore’s Changi Airport.

Since Mas Selamat’s escape from a rest room in the Internal Security Department’s detention centre, officers have scoured forests, coastlines and abandoned buildings. Checkpoints were alerted and unauthorized getaway points along the coast have been secured.

Neighbourhoods have been cordoned off, and police have enlisted the public’s help.

Indonesian police have tightened checks on people coming to Batam Island, 20 km from Singapore.

While authorities maintain that the alleged Singapore leader of the Jamaah Islamiah (JI) Southeast Asian terrorism network is still in the city-state, Batam police chief Slamet Riyanto said the short distance to Indonesia in addition to Mas Selamat’s knowledge of how to enter would make it easier for him.

He was arrested on the island of Bintan in 2003 reportedly for carrying false identification, and was jailed for 18 months. He was later released but rearrested in January 2006 before being turned over to Singapore, where he has been held under the Internal Security Act, which allows detention without trial.

Police in Singapore have warned members of the public against harbouring or helping Mas Selamat. Under the law, anyone doing so faces possible life imprisonment.

As many as 54,000 posters and pamphlets with Mas Selamat’s picture and details such as a limp in his left leg have been plastered throughout Singapore and distributed by volunteers, urging residents to call the police if they spot him.

At the Singapore government’s request, Interpol last week sent a photograph, fingerprints and other information to its 186 agencies worldwide, identifying the fugitive as a “potential threat to the safety and security of the public at large around the world”.

The Indonesian-born Mas Selamat was also accused by the ministry of having been involved in plans seven years ago to attack the US Embassy, the American Club and Singapore government buildings in retaliation for the city-state’s arrest and detention of fellow JI members.

Mas Selamat left the city-state in December 2001 following the arrests of nearly 40 other suspected JI members.
DPA

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