Malaysian duo held in Guantanamo Bay not likely to be sent home

Mohammed Nazir Lep (left) specialised in hijacking, while his compatriot Mohd Farik Amin was an explosives expert.
Mohammed Nazir Lep (left) specialised in hijacking, while his compatriot Mohd Farik Amin was an explosives expert.

KUALA LUMPUR • Two Malaysian militants held at Guantanamo Bay are unlikely to be transferred back to their country, Malaysian intelligence sources say, following news that US President Barrack Obama is planning to transfer out at least 18 more detainees within days.

Mr Obama, just days before stepping down as president, earlier announced that four Yemenis who were Guantanamo prisoners were being sent to Saudi Arabia, raising speculation about the fate of the two Malaysians.

The group being prepared for release, according to news reports, will be drawn from those held in the Guantanamo Bay prison for more than a decade.

The two Malaysians are Mohd Farik Amin and Mohammed Nazir Lep, who have been held there for 10 years.

They were operatives of the terrorist groups Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah (JI), and were captured in Thailand.

"It is a long and difficult process," a source told The Star.

"Both countries must agree on the method of transfer and a suitable location as well as duration to hold these prisoners in Malaysia."

It was learnt that the Obama administration was looking to charge the Malaysian duo in a US military court and sentence them to a term of a certain duration, with the remainder to be served in Malaysia.

"There lies the first problem, as Malaysia doesn't recognise the authority of the military court," another intelligence source said.

"The second problem is, Malaysia may want to detain them under the Prevention of Crime Act, which the US in turn does not agree with."

Even without such obstacles, the ultimate quandary is the level of danger that the duo pose, given their involvement with Al-Qaeda and JI, the sources said.

The Malaysian police's Counter-Terrorism Division head, Deputy Commissioner Ayob Khan, said Mohd Farik was an explosives expert who was among those responsible for channelling funds for the 2003 attack on the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta.

Mohammed Nazir specialised in hijacking and targeted American interests in the region.

"They are high-ranking members with a great deal of influence," said Mr Ayob.

He added that "there is a high possibility they might return to their militant ways and join other groups", especially the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2017, with the headline 'Malaysian duo held in Guantanamo Bay not likely to be sent home'. Print Edition | Subscribe