Posted: 08 May 2009 0143 hrs
SINGAPORE: Mas Selamat Kastari, Singapore's Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) leader who escaped from Whitley Road Detention Centre on February 27 last year, has been arrested.
The terrorist, who once plotted to hijack a plane and crash it into Changi Airport, was arrested in Malaysia in a joint intelligence operation involving the internal security agencies of the two countries. It is understood that Mas Selamat was actually arrested over a month ago but had been under interrogation in Malaysia. It is believed that the fugitive will soon be brought back to Singapore. Last December, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said: "He is one up on us, but the game is not over. One day we will catch him." Most security experts had expected the fugitive to head for Indonesia, where other JI members are believed to be based. So, it came as a surprise to some that he was arrested in Malaysia. Mas Selamat gave his guards the slip while he was being taken to the toilet at the detention centre. The escape sparked the largest manhunt in Singapore's history. Thousands of police and military personnel were roped in to comb the island for the fugitive. Checks at the borders were stepped up, road blocks were set up, officers went house to house, and forested areas were swept. There were also offers of a million dollar reward by two businessmen for his capture. Mas Selamat, however, remained elusive although dozens of illegal immigrants were flushed out. Posters bearing his face and description were put up everywhere and every mobile phone here was sent either a text description or a picture of him. Mas Selamat's escape also resulted in the dismissal of the detention centre's superintendent over security lapses. The superintendent's deputy was demoted. The two were the most senior officers in charge of the ground management of the detention centre, and were among six Internal Security Department (ISD) officers charged over the escape. Mas Selamat fled Singapore in December 2001 following an Internal Security Department operation against the terrorist organisation. The militant leader had been on the run after Singapore authorities discovered plans to crash seven trucks filled with bombs at various locations around the island. Investigations also revealed that he was the mastermind behind a plan to hijack an airplane and crash it into Changi airport. Mas Selamat was arrested by the Indonesian police on Bintan island in January 2006. He was detained for using a fake identity card. When he was arrested, officers found literature on bomb-making on him. Based on investigations then, Indonesia's elite anti-terror police then discovered he was the leader of the Singapore Jemaah Islamiyah network. They then deported him to Singapore, where he was detained at Whitley Road Detention Centre under the Internal Security Act. The 48-year-old father of four was said to be involved in JI's plans to mount attacks against foreign and local establishments in Singapore. These included the US Embassy and American Club, the Defence Ministry headquarters at Bukit Gombak and the Education Ministry building at North Buona Vista Drive. - CNA/TODAY/de**** **** Hmm....... No toilet break for you!