Jemaah Islamiyah leader Mas Selamat escapes from Singapore prison

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.