KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysia has extended for two more years the imprisonment of a terror suspect linked to Al Qaeda's (search) attempts to produce chemical and biological weapons, saying he has more information about terrorist operations.
Yazid Sufaat (search), a U.S.-trained biochemist and former Malaysian army captain, was arrested in late 2001 as he returned home from Afghanistan, where officials say he was working on a biological and chemical weapons program for Al Qaeda that was ended by the U.S.-led war.
Since then, he has been held without trial under Malaysia's Internal Security Act on accusations of being a member of Jemaah Islamiyah, an Al Qaeda ally in Southeast Asia.
Yazid, 40, has been described as a key aide of Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, an Indonesian who was operational chief of Jemaah Islamiyah and a high-ranking Al Qaeda leader.
Hambali was arrested in Thailand last August and is in U.S. custody. He is believed to have given up information on Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah plots and personnel.
Malaysian officials have said Yazid has only selectively cooperated in responding to questions, but knows more about the chemical and biological weapons program than Hambali.
A senior Malaysian official said Yazid could verify information provided by Hambali. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The Security Act allows for indefinite detention without trial, in two-year stints authorized by government orders. Yazid's first two-year detention order had been due to expire Friday.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also home minister in charge of security, signed a new detention order effective Friday.
Yazid is the most high-profile terrorist suspect among about 70 detained in Malaysia.
FBI agents interrogated Yazid in November 2002, but failed to get much information. Malaysian authorities have indicated they would consider an FBI request to interview him again, but have ruled out extradition.
Security officials have told AP that Yazid described the chemical and biological weapons program he and Hambali were building for Al Qaeda as being in the "conceptual stages" when their plans were interrupted by the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
Yazid graduated from California State University-Sacramento (search) in 1987 with a biochemistry degree. He returned home and joined the army, reaching captain.
After leaving the military and starting a computer business, Yazid began attending religious classes run by Hambali, and was recruited into his budding terror network.
Yazid is accused of allowing Hambali and other top Al Qaeda operatives -- including two eventual Sept. 11 hijackers -- to use an apartment he owned for meetings in Malaysia in January 2000. He also is accused of giving a false letter of employment to Sept. 11 suspect Zacarias Moussaoui that helped him enter the United States.
Jemaah Islamiyah is blamed for the October 2002 nightclub bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali that killed 202 people and a hotel bombing in Jakarta last August that killed 12 people.