Bin Laden anthrax scientist under house arrest after jail

Yazid Sufaat
Updated 22 November 2019

Bin Laden anthrax scientist under house arrest after jail

  • Sufaat, 55, recruited militants, tried making biological weapon agent near Afghan airport

KUALA LUMPUR: A US-educated biochemist with links to Al-Qaeda and Daesh was on Wednesday released from prison by Malaysian authorities.

Yazid Sufaat, who recruited militants for the terror groups and tried to help Osama bin Laden develop anthrax for use as a biological weapon, will remain under heavy police watch.

The 55-year-old walked free from the Simpang Renggam penitentiary in Johor and was sent to his home in Bandar Baru Ampang in Selangor, on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

He has been placed under house arrest and will be required to wear an electronic monitoring device, said Royal Malaysia Police counter-terrorism chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay. In addition, Sufaat would not be allowed to leave his home between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. and had been barred from using the internet.

The scientist, who trained militants for the late terror group leader Bin Laden and spent several months trying to produce anthrax in a laboratory near Kandahar airport in Afghanistan, has been jailed three times in the past 17 years on various terrorism-related charges.

He was first arrested in December 2001 and sentenced to seven years in prison. In 2013, the former military officer was convicted of recruiting members for Daesh and received a four-year jail term, and in 2017 he was arrested again for Al-Qaeda recruitment among fellow inmates.

In the 1990s, Sufaat joined Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a Southeast Asian extremist group led by Indonesian militants. In 2000, he acquired four tons of ammonium nitrate for a series of foiled bomb attacks in Singapore.

Months before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, he hosted meetings for senior Al-Qaeda members, during which they “spoke about the possibility of hijacking planes and crashing them,” according to the 9/11 Commission Report.

Dr. Danial Yusof, who leads a research unit on extremism at the International Islamic University Malaysia, told Arab News that the decision by the Prevention of Terrorism Board (POTB) to release Sufaat came after an evaluation process that included agencies such as the Royal Malaysia Police, prisons department and the Ministry of Home Affairs, and which put “national security as primary consideration for release.”

Sufaat will be required to report to local police twice a week and can only leave the vicinity of his house with written permission from the Selangor police chief.

According to Yusof, the measures were aimed at preventing Sufaat from reoffending and carrying out further recruitment.

Meanwhile, he said a major challenge for Malaysia’s deradicalization and rehabilitation program, would be the repatriation of around 140 former Malaysian followers of Daesh who are expected to return from Syria and Iraq.

With many of them being women and children, it would be a “test for Malaysia’s compassionate approach in counterviolence and extremism,” he added.

Yusof noted that Sufaat’s case could serve as a “reference point” for deradicalization of the individuals and their reintegration
into society.

However, Nasir Abbas, a former senior member of JI who is now involved in the Indonesian government’s deradicalization program, told Arab News on Thursday that rehabilitation efforts had so far failed to change Sufaat. 

“He still wants to engage in violent jihad. I am sure that once he is free, he will still campaign his cause to ordinary people,” he said.

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Philippines’ Duterte threatens to end military deal with the United States

Updated 23 January 2020

Philippines’ Duterte threatens to end military deal with the United States

  • Duterte vented his anger over the US decision to deny entry to Ronaldo dela Rosa
  • US embassy in the Philippines did not explain why his visa had been canceled

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned the United States on Thursday he would repeal an agreement on deployment of troops and equipment for exercises if Washington did not reinstate the visa of a political ally.
Visibly upset, Duterte vented his anger over the US decision to deny entry to Ronaldo dela Rosa, a former police chief who is now a senator.
Dela Rosa said the US embassy in the Philippines did not explain why his visa had been canceled but that he believed it was most likely because of allegations of extrajudicial killings during his more than two-year term as police chief.
Dela Rosa was the chief enforcer of Duterte’s anti-narcotics crackdown, which has resulted in deaths of more than 5,000 people, mostly small-time drug dealers. Police say victims were shot by officers in self-defense.
“If you do not do the correction, one, I will terminate the bases, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” Duterte said in a wide-ranging speech before former Communist rebels. “I am giving the government and the American government one month from now.”
The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), signed in 1998, accorded legal status to thousands of US troops who were rotated in the country for military exercises and humanitarian assistance operations.
Delfin Lorezana, Duterte’s defense minister, declined to comment when asked if he agreed with the president’s plan.
Duterte makes no secret of his disdain for the United States and what he considers its hypocrisy and interference, though he acknowledges that most Filipinos and his military have high regard for their country’s former colonial ruler.
The United States is the Philippines’ biggest defense ally and millions of Filipinos have relatives who are US citizens.
Last month, Duterte banned US senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy from visiting the Philippines after they introduced a provision in the US Congress.
The provision calls the ban on US entry to anyone involved in locking up Philippine senator Leila de Lima, a former justice minister and Duterte’s top critic who was jailed in 2017 on drug charges after leading an investigation into thousands of deaths during the anti-narcotics campaign.
She has won numerous awards from human rights groups, which consider her a prisoner of conscience.
The US Embassy in Manila could not immediately be reached for comment outside office hours.