Special | By Wong Chun Wai

Maximum security for Malaysians


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians Mohd Farik Amin @ Zubair and Mohd Nazir Lep @ Lillie, who have been listed among 14 key United States terror suspects, are now being held in Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay. 

Officials familiar with the high security block at the United States naval base believe that they are probably being kept in one of the seven detention camps at Camp Delta. 

These are maximum-security camps that can house up to 800 detainees, including those in solitary confinement.  

For new arrivals, who would include Mohd Farik from Selangor and Mohd Nazir, a Johorean, they would probably be held at the maximum security Camp Three. 

"The 2m by 2.4m cells only have a squatting toilet, a metal sink and sleeping berth fixed to the walls. They would probably be allowed out of their cells three times a week but they cannot exercise with the other inmates," said a source. 

They have to wear orange uniforms and items such as toilet paper and shampoo will only be available on request. Cell lights are turned on 24 hours a day. 

Intelligence sources said the two were arrested in a joint operation involving the CIA and Thai police in Bangkok in 2003. Several days later their mentor – Indonesian-born radical preacher Hambali – was arrested. 

All three were handed over to the CIA who had held them in unknown secret prisons.  

All three have been implicated in the nightclub bombings in Bali 2002, in which 202 people were killed, and the 2003 bomb attack at the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, which killed 12 people. 

The trio are regarded as "most dangerous" by international agencies and have been named as members of the shadowy Jemaah Islamiah (JI) and al-Qaeda network. 

Sources said the Malaysians have also been implicated in a planned al-Qaeda plot to crash a hijacked plane into the 73-storey Library Tower/US Bank Tower in Los Angeles.  

"No date was given for the mission but the plot, named Project California, would have been the biggest since the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York," an official said. 

Sources said Mohd Farik and Mohd Nazir had accompanied three Malaysians – now under detention in Kamunting under the Internal Security Act – to pledge their allegiance to Osama bin Laden. 

"The other three Malaysians, fired up by Osama's sermons, met Khaled Sheikh Mohamed, a top al-Qaeda leader now also imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, to plan their plot. 

Khaled is described by the United States as "one of history's most infamous terrorists" and is regarded as the suspected mastermind of the Sept 11 attacks. He is believed to be the third-ranking al-Qaeda leader before his arrest in Pakistan in 2003. 

Born in Pakistan and raised in Kuwait, he is believed to be instrumental in building close operational ties between al-Qaeda and the JI in South-East Asia.  

"Project California was supposed to be the second wave of attacks by the al-Qaeda, but it failed when intelligence forces kept tabs on Middle Eastern men. Two of the Malaysians were arrested when they returned to Malaysia in 2002," a source revealed. 

"Upon interrogation, they told authorities of the second-wave of attacks planned on the United States and their link with Mohd Farik and Mohd Nazir. Malaysian police followed up swiftly after that."  

Intelligence officials believe that Mohd Farik and Mohd Nazir are cooperating well with the CIA, and that their ability to speak English probably makes the process easier. Mohd Nazir studied at a polytechnic in Jitra, Kedah, while Mohd Farik studied at a normal national school 

It is understood that regional intelligence agencies have been told of the detention in Guantanamo Bay. One official said "it will be interesting to see the two brought to trial as President George Bush has said."