Jemaah Islamiyah leader Mas Selamat escapes from Singapore prison

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Interpol has issued an "Orange Notice" for the leader of southeast Asian Jemaah Islamiyah, Mas Selamat bin Kastari, who escaped from a detention center Wednesday.

Singapore Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng told his Parliament that a "security lapse" is what led to Mas Selamat's escape. While waiting to visit his family, Mas Selamat escaped from the Internal Security Department's Whitley Road detention facility shortly after 4 PM local time after being granted permission to use the washroom. The escape led to Mr. Wong apologizing for the incident and the beginning of an island-wide manhunt for Selamat.

"When it comes to escapes, the first hours are crucial," said Jean-Michel Louboutin, Interpol's executive director of police services. "The state of Singapore has put into operation everything that's needed to be done. It's a small country, so it's easy to cross and leave."

Selamat, a 47-year-old former bus mechanic and a father of 5, was once accused of plotting to hijack a plane and crash it into Singapore's international airport. He is "someone who presents a potential physical danger to others, but also a potential danger by organizing future bombings," Louboutin said.

Mas Selamat bin Kastari, a Singaporean national of Indonesian birth and extraction, stands 158 cm (about 5 feet 2 1/4 inches) tall and walks with a limp in his left leg.

After the "Orange Notice" was released, Mas Selamat's picture and fingerprints were released to Interpol's 186 member countries. He remains at large.


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