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Malaysia frees 3 suspected Islamic militants

Malaysia has released another three alleged members of a Southeast Asian terrorist network who had been imprisoned without trial for years.

world Updated: Feb 14, 2009 12:38 IST

Malaysia has released another three alleged members of a Southeast Asian terrorist network who had been imprisoned without trial for years, a human rights group said on Saturday.

Businessman Suhaimi Mokhtar was arrested in 2002, electrician Zaini Zakaria in 2003 and businessman Mohd Khider Kadran in 2004 under the Internal Security Act which allows indefinite detention without trial during a crackdown on the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah network.

They were freed from a prison center on Thursday but must report weekly to police and remain within the districts where they live, said Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh of the Abolish ISA Movement. "We welcome their release, but we are concerned with the selective release," he told The Associated Press. There are still some 40 detainees held under the act, including four Jemaah Islamiyah terrorism suspects, he said.

Home ministry officials couldn't be reached for comment on Saturday. The Malaysian government jailed more than 200 suspects between 2001 and 2003, but many were released over the past few years. Syed Ibrahim said the Abolish ISA Movement plans to hold a rally in March to demand the act be repealed. Critics said the law is abused to silence dissidents, but the government defended it as necessary to protect national security and ensure stability. At Jemaah Islamiyah's peak in early 2000, it had members in several Southeast Asian nations. Officials now say the group has been decimated in recent years in a regional crackdown supported by the United States and other Western governments.

Among the strikes attributed to Jemaah Islamiyah and affiliate groups are the 2002 bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists; the 2003 and 2004 attacks on the J W Marriott Hotel and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta; and the 2005 triple suicide bombings on restaurants in Bali.