Skip to main content /WORLD /WORLD


Tape shows Singapore attack plans

A shuttle bus used by the U.S. military is described on the tape as a target
A shuttle bus used by the U.S. military is described on the tape as a target  

SINGAPORE (CNN) -- The Singapore government has released a chilling videotape it says shows targets of a planned attack by a broken terrorist cell in the city-state.

The video shows footage of U.S. military targets but the government says that the militants were also planning attacks on U.S., British, Israeli and Australian missions in Singapore.

Fifteen people were arrested in Singapore last month who the government believes are part of a terrorist cell with links to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. Two people have since been released.

Bin Laden is accused by the U.S. of ordering the September 11 attacks.

The arrests were a direct result of intelligence gathered in Afghanistan, U.S. officials told CNN.

Singapore's Home Affairs ministry said some videotapes and several Arabic-language notes detailed plans on attacks on American targets in the city.

They were found in the rubble of a house of a senior al Qaeda official in Afghanistan by U.S. troops, the ministry said in a statement released on Friday.

Bus attack

A videotape captured in Afghanistan helped expose a plot against U.S. interests in Singapore. CNN's Jamie McIntyre reports (January 11)

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)
SE Asia's terror crackdown Asia
More news from our
Asia edition

On the released videotape, a terrorist suspect is heard describing a potential target, a shuttle bus used regularly by U.S. military personnel to get to a Singapore train station.

The man speaking on the tape is identified as Hashim bin Abas, one of 13 suspects in custody under Singapore's Internal Security Act.

Singapore says that eight of the 13 had been to al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and were trained in the use of AK-47 rifles, mortars and modern military tactics.

Bin Abas is heard on the tape saying that boxes commonly carried on motorbikes in Singapore could be used to carry explosives.

"You will notice some of the boxes that are placed on the motorcycles; these are the same type of boxes that we intend to use," he says on the tape, describing images on the recording.

The suspect then identifies a vehicle, used by the U.S. military to transport personnel to a train station.

"This is one, one of the buses, one of the regular buses that carry the military personnels from Sembawang to Yishun MRT station," bin Abas is heard saying on the tape.

'Ready for action'

Attack on America
 CNN NewsPass Video 
Agencies reportedly got hijack tips in 1998
Intelligence intercept led to Buffalo suspects
Report cites warnings before 9/11
Timeline: Who Knew What and When?
Interactive: Terror Investigation
Terror Warnings System
Most wanted terrorists
What looks suspicious?
In-Depth: America Remembers
In-Depth: Terror on Tape
In-Depth: How prepared is your city?
On the Scene: Barbara Starr: Al Qaeda hunt expands?
On the Scene: Peter Bergen: Getting al Qaeda to talk

The Singapore government statement says that al Qaeda leaders "showed interest" in the attack plans, which were described as "developed and ready for action." But for "reasons not known" the plan was never carried out.

A second plan called for an attack on U.S. Navy vessels in the waters of Singapore, with a "kill zone" designated on a confiscated defense military map.

The ministry's press release also said that the group was planning attacks on the British High Commission, the Israeli Embassy, the Australian High Commission in Singapore and commercial buildings housing U.S. companies.

Another suspect took photos of Singapore's Paya Lebar Airbase and U.S. military aircraft at the base as a "potential target for [a] terrorist attack," the government said.

It said that some of the detained suspects were approached by two men in September and October last year to "assist in a plan for terrorist bombing against specific targets in Singapore."

The terrorist cell had about four tons of ammonium nitrate, an explosive chemical, in Malaysia and had been instructed by two 'foreign suspects' to get 17 more tons to make truck bombs, the statement said.

On of the two men referred to as "Mike" was "a trainer and bomb maker" with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, some of the detainees told authorities. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is a Muslim group trying to set up an independent state in the southern Philippines.

The other man, "Sammy" was of "Arab extraction", the government said.

Security alert

Authorities say that all 13 detained suspects belong to Jemaah Isamiya, an organization that has cells in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Its leader is still at large.

Pentagon officials said that the break which led to the arrests underscores the importance of the intelligence gathering mission of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

"Almost every arrest leads to additional pieces of information. It may be scraps of information in their pockets, it may be things they say, it may be other connections that occur," U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said.

American warships have continued to make port calls in Singapore over the last several weeks with extra security measures.

U.S. Navy sources say they were confident that Singapore's government had taken steps to control security at the port and key areas frequented by U.S. sailors.

Security throughout the Southeast Asian nation has also been beefed up, particularly around U.S. companies and interests.

Singapore is home to about 17,000 Americans and about 6,000 multinational companies have their regional headquarters in the city-state.


Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.



Back to the top