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Leaders slam terror plotters

SINGAPORE (Reuters) -- The Singapore government and religious leaders have condemned the acts of the 13 men now under arrest for suspected links to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group and found to have been engaged in bombing plots in the city-state.

The Mufti of Singapore, Syed Isa Mohd Semait, has advised Muslims to "be vigilant against undesirable elements" who could jeopardize the city-state's national security and disrupt racial and religious harmony, said a statement from the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) or Islamic Religious Council of Singapore.

Singapore said on Friday that arrested men had been engaged in plots to blow up a shuttle bus ferrying U.S. military personnel and to bomb U.S. naval vessels along waters off the island state.

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

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The men, all arrested between December 9 and 24 under the Internal Security Act, were members of the Jemaah Islamiyah -- a clandestine Islamic Group with links to other Southeast Asian nations.

Local media reported that Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Information, Communication and the Arts, Yatiman Yusof, had said the local Muslim community did not want to be associated with those detained.

Law and Foreign Affairs Minister S. Jayakumar also said the details of the investigations showed "without any shadow of a doubt" that the problem was serious.

The suspects have now been detained for two years from January 6 under the Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial.

The government said the Jemaah Islamiya organization it uncovered in Singapore is part of a larger network with cells in Malaysia and Indonesia.

It added that one of the Jemaah Islamiya cells had started exploring terrorist targets in Singapore as early as 1997.

Malaysia, which has rounded up nearly 40 suspected Islamic militants since last August, echoed on Friday Singapore's view there were connections among the men detained in various parts of Southeast Asia.

"There are links among Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines on this. I believe Singapore too, although I don't have the facts," Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was quoted as saying by Malaysia's state-run Bernama news agency.

Mahathir has said police have identified about 50 Malaysians linked to the al-Qaeda and those arrested have admitted being trained in Afghanistan by followers of Osama bin Laden, the chief suspect of the September 11 attacks on the United States.


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