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6/21/03 - THAIS FIGHT TERRORISM - 2003-06-23

Authorities in Thailand have arrested three men, including two reported members of the al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah. According to police, Maisuri Haji Abdullah, an Islamic religious teacher, and his son, Mayahi Haji Doloh, confessed to plotting to bomb four foreign embassies and several tourist sites in Thailand. Waemahadi Wae-dao, a medical doctor, admitted to forging passports for the terrorists. A fourth suspect, Arifin bin Ali, a citizen of Singapore, was handed over to Singapore authorities on May 16th.

Arifin bin Ali is a senior member of Jemaah Islamiyah. This group seeks to impose a radical Islamic state on the people of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the southern Philippines and southern Thailand. Jemaah Islamiyah is responsible for the terrorist bombings in Bali, Indonesia, in 2002, which killed nearly two hundred people from more than a dozen countries.

According to Singapore authorities, Arifin received terrorist training in 1999 in a camp in the Philippines operated by Moro Islamic Liberation Front insurgents. Arifin is believed to have been part of a plot to hijack an airliner in Bangkok and crash it into Changi airport in Singapore.

Leading up to Arifin's arrest, Singapore has moved aggressively to disrupt Jemaah Islamiyah operations; in December 2001 and again in August 2002, Singapore arrested a total of thirty-six suspected terrorists planning attacks against Western and other targets. Thirty-two were members of Jemaah Islamiyah, including some who trained with al-Qaida in Afghanistan.

Indonesia has arrested eighteen suspected members of Jemaah Islamiyah, including acting spiritual leader Abu Rusdan, and Nasir Abbas, a Malaysian citizen believed to be the commander of the so-called Mantiqi Three terrorist-training cell. The spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, Abu Bakar Bashir, is currently being tried for treason. And Cambodian authorities recently arrested an Egyptian and two Thais allegedly linked to Jemaah Islamiyah. Cooperation among nations is essential in fighting terrorism, as Secretary of State Colin Powell points out:

"Nations everywhere now recognize that we are all in this together. None of us can combat terrorism alone. This global threat demands a global response."

In cooperation with other ASEAN nations, Thailand's is playing a critical role in responding to the of terrorism in Southeast Asia.