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Singapore arrests 'al Qaeda trainees'

SINGAPORE (CNN) -- The government of Singapore says it has arrested 21 people on terrorism charges, some of whom received training at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.

According to a statement released Monday, 19 of those arrested are members of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a radical Islamic group the government accuses of planning attacks on U.S. targets.

The other two are said to be members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the southern Philippines.

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"A few have undergone military training at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and at the MILF's Camp Abu Bakar in Mindanao," the statement said.

The suspects were arrested in August and all are said to be Singaporean citizens.

All are being held under Singapore's Internal Security Act.

"These latest arrests have seriously disrupted the JI network in Singapore, " the government statement said, adding: "There is no known imminent security threat from other JI elements in Singapore.


Last December, Singaporean officials announced they had arrested 15 people it said were planning attacks on U.S. interests.

Several of those arrested in the latest swoop are thought to have conducted reconnaissance and surveys of selected targets in Singapore, acting on orders from JI leaders arrested in December.

Investigations in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States have revealed extensive ties between militant groups in Southeast Asia and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terror network.

Aside from Singapore, U.S. intelligence officials say they believe al Qaeda has links with Islamic militant groups in Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.

As part of the war on terrorism Washington has provided lists of suspects to several governments in the region.

However, it is not clear whether these latest arrests in Singapore were based on intelligence reports from American or other sources.




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