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6/2/03 - CAMBODIA FIGHTS TERRORISM - 2003-06-03

Cambodian authorities have arrested three men alleged to be linked to the al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher praised Cambodia's action:

"We understand that, after extensive investigation, one Egyptian and two Thai nationals, who are members of the Umm Al-Qura group, have been charged under Cambodia's terrorism law. Our embassy has confirmed that twenty-eight additional foreign teachers in the group's school have also been asked to leave the country with their dependents."

Umm Al-Qura is a Muslim organization based in Saudi Arabia and registered in Cambodia, where it operates a school run by Essam Mohamid Khidr. Khidr and two associates are charged with international terrorist acts, according to the Cambodian Municipal Court investigating judge. The three are suspected of having links to Islamic extremists, including Jemaah Islamiyah.

Jemaah Islamiyah seeks to impose by force a radical Islamic state on the people of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, southern Thailand, and the southern Philippines. Jemaah Islamiyah was responsible for the terrorist bombings in Bali, Indonesia, in October 2002, which killed nearly two-hundred people and wounded three-hundred others from more than a dozen countries. It has also been linked to a series of bombings in Indonesia and the Philippines in December 2000.

Like its al-Qaida affiliate, Jemaah Islamiyah seeks to recruit terrorists from among Muslim religious students. Once indoctrinated, they are given contracts to sign, specifying the type of terrorist activity, including suicide bombing, they are willing to engage in. But these terrorists and their mentors are no longer safe, as Secretary of State Colin Powell makes clear:

"As the president [Bush] has pledged, with the help of a broad coalition, we will make certain that terrorists and their supporters are not safe in any corner or cave of the world."

The latest arrests in Cambodia are another success in the war against terrorism.