Singapore Terror Plot

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The Singapore government released new information Friday about the activities of a suspected local terrorist cell linked to al-Qaida, saying members were planning attacks on embassies of Australia, the United States and Israel.

The government issued a news release and a videotape it said was made by one of the 13 suspected terrorists now in custody. The video showed a suspect narrating as the camera zoomed in on alleged terrorist targets in the city-state.

The government arrested 15 people in Singapore in the last month under the Southeast Asian city-state's Internal Security Act, which allows detention without trial for anyone deemed a national security threat. Two of those people have been freed.

In a news release, Singapore's Home Affairs Ministry said videotapes and some Arabic-language handwritten notes detailing plans to attack Americans in Singapore were found in the rubble of an al-Qaida leader's house in Afghanistan.

Eight of the 13 detainees have trained in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan, the government's news release said.

The U.S. Embassy in Singapore said the United States was "appreciative" of Singapore's anti-terrorism efforts and "remains confident in the ability of the government of Singapore to protect American citizens and institutions here."

"Singapore remains a safe place to live or do business," the U.S statement said.

Those detained are believed to have been planning attacks on the British High Commission, the Israeli Embassy and the Australian High Commission, and on vehicles carrying U.S. military personnel in Singapore, the ministry's news release said.

One of the suspects — a technician for government-linked Singapore Technologies Aerospace — photographed Singapore's Paya Lebar Airbase and U.S. military aircraft there "as a potential target for terrorist attack," the government said.

The ministry said that some of the suspects were approached in September and October of last year by foreigners "to assist in a plan for terrorist bombing against specific targets in Singapore."

The suspects allegedly described one of the foreigners, who called himself "Mike," as "a trainer and bomb-maker" with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a group trying to set up an independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines.

Mike and another foreigner, a man "of Arab extraction" calling himself "Sammy," were leaders of one of three terrorist cells in Singapore, the ministry said.

The cell had four tons of the explosive chemical ammonium nitrate in Malaysia, the news release said. Mike and Sammy had told their cohorts to procure 17 more to make truck bombs, it said.

The suspects also "conducted target surveillance of locations which were frequented by Americans in Singapore," the ministry said.

About 17,000 Americans live in Singapore. Almost 6,000 multinational companies — many of them American — have regional offices in the affluent city-state and American companies are among he biggest employers in Singapore.

The discovery of a suspected homegrown terrorist cell connected with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network shocked Singapore, which boasts one the world's most efficient intelligence-gathering networks.

The government said the suspects also had al-Qaida-linked materials, fake passports and forged immigration stamps. The U.S. Navy has a logistics unit in Singapore and warships going to and from Afghanistan have been resupplied in the city-state. Last year, Singapore opened a new naval facility specially designed to accommodate U.S. aircraft carriers.

In Malaysia, newspapers Friday quoted Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad as saying that about 50 Malaysians were involved in al-Qaida. Malaysian police have arrested about 13 people in December and January who they allege are members of a local Islamic militant group with links to similar groups in Indonesia and the Philippines.

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