- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2002

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia When Yazid Sufaat arrived home to Malaysia after months in southern Afghanistan, police were waiting.
Authorities say his arrest has helped expose a Southeast Asian terror network that has surprised governments and security specialists. They say its structure and capacities are frighteningly similar to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda organization.
Since December, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines have announced arrests of purported cell members suspected of involvement in a plot to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Singapore as well as navy ships and pro-Western targets in the wealthy city-state.
Roilo Golez, national security adviser in the Philippines, said the militant group, which uses the name Jemaah Islamiyah, appears to have become "very active."
Investigators say its aim is to spread radical Islam across the region a concept with scant support among a majority of the region's Muslim residents. Indonesia and Malaysia are both Muslim-majority nations, but their governments are secular. The Philippines is mostly Roman Catholic, while Singapore is mostly Christian or Buddhist.
Malaysian authorities say about 200 people in their country are members of Kumpulan Militant Malaysia, a group with ties to Jemaah Islamiyah. They include Mr. Sufaat, who is suspected of training in al Qaeda camps and playing host to two of the September 11 hijackers two years ago at his weekend home. He was arrested on Dec. 9 as he crossed into Malaysia from Thailand.
As authorities across the region pieced together information gleaned from separate investigations, they said it had become increasingly clear that the group was linked to al Qaeda and perhaps hoped to emulate it.
An Indonesian man in custody in the Philippines since Jan. 15 told authorities there that he financed bombings that killed 22 persons in Manila in December 2000 with Jemaah Islamiyah money, according to affidavits given to prosecutors on Friday.

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