Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Malaysian 'militant' students held under ISA

Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 November, 2003, 03:21 GMT

By Jonathan Kent
BBC correspondent in Kuala Lumpur

Thirteen Malaysian students suspected of involvement with Islamic militant groups have been detained upon their arrival home following their deportation from Pakistan.

The 13 were arrested in Karachi in September along with the younger brother of Hambali - the Indonesian man alleged to have masterminded the Bali bombings.

Police outside Kamunting prison, where the suspects are being held
No suspected militant has been brought to trial
The group is being held under Malaysia's internal security act, which allows for indefinite detention without trial or charge.

The thirteen were studying at Islamic colleges in Pakistan when they were originally arrested, apparently on the strength of information provided by Hambali.

Prior to his arrest in Thailand in August, he was allegedly the operations chief for the militant network said to be responsible for bombings in Bali and Jakarta.

The Malaysian authorities say Hambali's younger brother was grooming the students to become future militant leaders.

He was one of a number of Indonesians also arrested in Pakistan.

No-one charged

The fathers of four of the students are already in detention in Malaysia, according to local media reports.

More than 90 people alleged to have links to militant groups have been detained here in the last two-and-a-half years.

None has been charged or brought to court.

Under Malaysia's internal security act police can hold suspects for up to 60days.

Thereafter they can be detained indefinitely on the authority of the Home Minister.

That post has been held by Malaysia's new prime minister, Abdullah Badawi, for the last four years.