Jakarta: Singapore's most-wanted man, Mas Selamat Kastari, accused of plotting to crash a plane into Changi Airport, is back home under detention after his arrest and deportation by Indonesian authorities.
Singapore JI leader Mas Selamat Kastari who led the Singapore chapter of South-east Asia's Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist network, was handed over to the Singapore authorities last Friday [3 February] by their Indonesian counterparts, it was announced yesterday.
In its statement, Singapore's Home Affairs Ministry said Mas Selamat is currently being held under the Internal Security Act and investigations into his case will now proceed. It noted that he had fled Singapore in December 2001 following the crackdown on the JI network.
"He was among those who had planned retaliation against Singapore for arresting and detaining his fellow JI members. He had planned to hijack a plane and crash it into Changi Airport," it added.
Indonesia's national police deputy spokesman Anton Bachrul Alam in Jakarta said that the 45-year-old Singaporean was escorted back to his home country by Indonesia's elite anti-terror police.
"He violated immigration laws and he is on the Singaporean police's wanted list, and therefore we helped to hand him over," he said. Brig-Gen Anton told The Straits Times that Mas Selamat was arrested in Malang, in East Java, on 20 January, for possessing a false identification card which gave his name as Hendrawan.
The arrest came shortly after he was released from a prison in Pasuruan, about 40km north of Malang, in December last year. When Mas Selamat was first arrested in Bintan in 2003 and found guilty of similar immigration offences, he was charged and sentenced to 18 months' jail.
His return to Singapore last week ended the Republic's four-year wait to get him in its custody. For three of those years, Mas Selamat had spent time in two Indonesian prisons, including the one in Pasuruan.
The Indonesia-born resident of Teck Whye Lane had fled Singapore in December 2001 following the Republic's security sweep which netted a number of his fellow JI members. His audacious plane crash plot was first revealed by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in April 2002.
He was said to have discussed with other key regional JI leaders, such as Hambali, a plan to hit back at the Singapore Government by hijacking an American, British or Singapore aircraft and crashing it into Changi Airport. That plan never materialized and Hambali has been in US custody since 2003.
Mas Selamat's run from the law lasted 14 months until his January 2003 arrest in Bintan by Indonesian authorities.
He was found guilty of several immigration offences and given an 18-month jail sentence which he served in Pekanbaru, the capital of Sumatra's Riau province.
In August 2004, when the term ended, he was sentenced to another 16 months for 'the same offences', BG Anton told The Straits Times, without going into details. He also did not wish to say why Mas Selamat served the added time in Pasuruan.
But, back in August 2004, sources in Pekanbaru's department of justice told The Straits Times the Singaporean's detention would likely be extended because the authorities wanted more time to investigate if he had any possible JI links in the country.
Whether he was brought to East Java to help in JI-related investigations is not clear, but the group's operatives are known to be active in the area.
Indonesian authorities have blamed the JI for a string of attacks including the 2002 bombings on the island of Bali, which killed 202 people.
BBC Monitoring & The Straits Times, Singapore,
February 06, 2006