KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysian police arrested a suspected leader of an Al Qaeda-linked group Friday, extending a new roundup of alleged members of a Southeast Asian militant network that officials say plotted to bomb U.S. and other targets.
Former university lecturer Wan Min Wan Mat was arrested Friday morning in northern Kelantan state as a threat to national security, police chief Norian Mai said.
"He is one of the leaders in the Jemaah Islamiyah in Malaysia," Norian said.
Officials in Singapore and Malaysia say the militant group has cells in several Southeast Asian countries that received help from Al Qaeda in a plot to blow up the U.S. Embassy and other targets in Singapore.
Wan Min was arrested a week after Singapore announced the arrest of 19 Jemaah Islamiyah suspects last month in the second roundup in the city-state since the bomb plot was exposed in January.
Dozens of Jemaah Islamiyah suspects also have been arrested in Malaysia, including a man accused of letting two Sept. 11 hijackers and other senior Al Qaeda operatives use his apartment for a meeting in January 2000, and of helping alleged Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui during visits to Malaysia later that year.
On Friday, the Singapore government confirmed that one suspect in custody also met Moussaoui in Malaysia. The government did not say when the meeting occurred. The Straits Times newspaper unidentified the suspect as Faiz Abu Bakar Bafana, 39, a Malaysian resident.
Norian refused to outline any specific allegations against Wan Min but said he received weapons training in Afghanistan in 2000 and the southern Philippines in 1996.
Like the other Jemaah Islamiyah suspects in Singapore and Malaysia, Wan Min is being held under security laws that allow for indefinite detention without trial.
Singapore and Malaysia accuse two Indonesian clerics -- Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, and Abu Bakar Ba'asyir -- of being the group's top leaders. Hambali's whereabouts are unknown. Ba'asyir is free in Indonesia, where authorities say they have no evidence on which to arrest him.
Norian said Wan Min, 42, was the Jemaah Islamiyah leader in Johor, the Malaysian state next to Singapore.
Norian said Malaysian police had identified eight other Jemaah Islamiyah members and announced rewards of $13,000 for their capture.