morocco terrorists’ jailbreak

Posted on April 7, 2008

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Maybe Singapore won’t feel so bad now about the escape of a suspected terrorist chief from the island nation’s detention center, right under the noses of authorities who pride themselves on sophisticated security systems and well-run, incorruptible security forces.

In late February, the Singapore government was forced to acknowledge the breakout of Mas Selamat bin Kastari, alleged by the government to be the leader of a terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah. He has been accused of plotting to bomb the United States Embassy and several other targets in Singapore. He was also believed to have wanted to hijack a passenger jet and crash it into Singapore’s airport.

He is still at large, despite a massive manhunt and an Interpol alert.

Morocco has just reported a similar embarrassment. Nine Islamist prisoners convicted of terrorist offenses just dug their way out of one of the country’s jails.

“They used a tunnel which came out at the house of the director of the prison,” Moroccan professor Mohamed Darif told the BBC. “They must have had accomplices.”

The escaped prisoners were believed to have left a note protesting their innocence and the conditions of their imprisonment.

Like Singapore, Morocco had made fighting terrorism one of the country’s priorities and presented itself as an ally to Western countries in the war against Islamist extremists.

And just like the Southeast Asian nation, Morocco’s case is also a first.

Sophisticated and developed Singapore would loathe to be lumped with Morocco, but that is the unfortunate reality it would have to deal with from now on.

Perhaps those two nations should exchange notes on how not to lose high profile detainees. And commiserate.

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