SE Asia on terror alert
BANGKOK, Thailand -- Thailand has joined a string of other Southeast Asian countries on terror alert after receiving intelligence of possible al Qaeda attacks in the country.
This coincided with several arrests in recent weeks in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines of suspected Muslim militants with links to the terrorist network.
Thailand beefed up its security after information obtained by the Thai embassy in Kuwait indicated that airline offices of the U.S. and its allies in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore could be targeted by al Qaeda members, local media reported on Wednesday.
The Nation newspaper reported that security had been increased around 'sensitive areas' including embassies, consulates, ambassador's residences, airports and airline offices.
The report said that government officials were monitoring the security situation and believed that al Qaeda was active in Southeast Asia and may be looking to find a new base for their operations.
Thailand was also considering strengthening the exchange of intelligence information with its neighbors, the newspaper said.
One of those neighbors, Malaysia has arrested scores of suspected Islamic militants under the Muslim nation's contentious Internal Security Act.
Around 50 people have been detained for activities deemed detrimental to the state including members of the Kumpulan Militan Malaysia (KMM) which police said were Afghan-trained and had links to al Qaeda.
They said the detainees will be charged if there was enough proof they had links to other suspected militant groups in Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Indonesia, which has been accused by regional media and officials in neighboring countries of being slow to crack down on Islamic extremists with militant links, on Tuesday summoned for questioning militant Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.
Singapore and Malaysia suspect that the cleric has links with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network and with terrorist groups in the region.
The government has consistently denied that al Qaeda elements are based in the world's most populous Muslim nation though critics say politicians fear a backlash if a harsh line is taken with militant Muslims, though most Indonesian Muslims are moderates.
Singapore said earlier this month it had arrested 13 men from a group called Jemaah Islamiah, which had cells in Malaysia and Indonesia.
The men were arrested for an alleged plot to blow up U.S. military personnel and other American targets in the prosperous city-state.
Meanwhile, the Philippines has arrested several suspects in the past fortnight police say have links to the al Qaeda network.
Philippines arrests fifth terror suspect
January 21, 2002
Tape shows Singapore attack plans
January 12, 2002
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