Tue, 26 Aug 2003

Malaysia deports suspected Indonesian militant

Muninggar Sri Saraswati and Syaiful Amin, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta/Yogyakarta

A National Police spokesman said that his office was aware of the deportation of an Indonesian militant from Malaysia, but had yet to make any moves against him, pending an investigation into his possible involvement in a series of terror attacks in Indonesia.

"The Foreign Affairs Ministry has yet to inform us about it. We are looking into his possible involvement in the 2000 Christmas bombings, the Bali bombings or other acts of terror," Sr. Comr. Zainuri Lubis said on Monday.

Zainuri was commenting on the deportation of Mohamad Iqbal Abdul Rahman, alias Abu Jibril, after he was released from a Malaysian prison. Iqbal was detained for two years under the Internal Security Act for his involvement in the al-Qaeda-linked Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) terror group.

As soon as Iqbal arrives in the country, Zainuri said, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, which supervises the immigration office, will report it to the police.

"We'll check first whether he was involved in crimes here or not. We won't be hasty," Zainuri said.

Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said in Kuala Lumpur that his authorities had deported Iqbal, an Indonesian with permanent residency in Malaysia, after releasing him from prison, AFP reported.

Badawi, who is also the home minister, confirmed that Iqbal had been sent to Indonesia. However, he declined to say when Iqbal was deported and if Malaysian authorities had conducted an investigation into his involvement with JI.

"He has been sent back to Indonesia," Abdullah said. "They did not have to ask for him to be extradited."

Iqbal, 46, was released on Friday after his two-year detention order under the ISA expired. He was handed over to immigration officials immediately.

It was not clear if Iqbal was released due to a lack of evidence.

Since early 2001, Malaysia has detained more than 90 suspected militants, many of them alleged members of JI, which is blamed for a string of bombings in the region including the Bali blasts in October last year that killed 202 people and the JW Marriot hotel bombing in Jakarta earlier this month.

The release of Iqbal was first reported by his brother Irfan Awwas, a top leader of the Indonesian Mujahiddin Council (MMI), last week.

Irfan said his brother did not commit any crime in Malaysia, where he worked as a cleric. The Malaysian government awarded him a license to conduct religious activities.

In his sermons, Iqbal spoke prominently about jihad and martyrdom, according to Irfan.

Iqbal, a graduate of the Yogyakarta Agriculture Institute, left for Malaysia in 1985, along with Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, the alleged leader of JI who is now on trial for treason for his possible role in ordering terror attacks to destabilize the government.