Malaysian held at Guantanamo may be sent home

Deputy PM Zahid says Mohamad Nazir could be deradicalised in Malaysian prison

NEW YORK • One of two Malaysian detainees at Guantanamo Bay may be transferred to a prison back home to be deradicalised, according to Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

The authorities in the United States believe Mohamad Nazir Lep is ready to be sent back, Datuk Seri Zahid told Malaysian journalists on Thursday.

According a Bernama report, Dr Zahid was informed of this possibility during a meeting with Mr Lee Wolowsky, the US Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure, on Wednesday.

"This possibility is in tandem with our efforts to bring home the Malaysian detainees at Guantanamo Bay," Bernama quoted Dr Zahid as saying.

The Deputy Prime Minister, who is also Home Minister and is in New York leading Malaysia's delegation to the 71st United Nations General Assembly, was reported by Bernama as saying that a mechanism needed to be sorted out by a high-level committee chaired by him before Mohamad Nazir can be repatriated.

The committee would comprise representatives from the Home Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Defence Ministry, National Security Council, Attorney-General's Chambers, Royal Malaysia Police, Prisons Department and Immigration Department, he added.

Mohamad Nazir is believed to be part of a suicide plot involving the hijacking of a plane, among other offences.

Dr Zahid has invited Mr Wolowsky to visit Malaysia to explain to the committee the requirements and conditions regarding Mohamad Nazir's transfer back to his home country, Bernama said.

Mohamad Nazir, now 40, together with fellow Malaysian Mohd Farik Amin, 41, have been held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba since 2006 for their involvement with the Jemaah Islamiah militant group.

They were allegedly involved in the JW Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta in 2003 and were detained in Bangkok in the same year.

US intelligence sources believe they were also part of a suicide plot involving the hijacking of a commercial passenger plane in a second-wave attack after the Sept 11, 2001 strikes.

Mohamad Nazir, who attended flight training schools, was a member of a cell slated to hijack planes. He had also planned attacks on US embassies in the region, as well as facilitated transfer of money and arms to other radicals.

Mohd Farik is also said to be a senior member of the Jemaah Islamiah and Al-Qaeda terror groups.

Malaysia's police chief Khalid Abu Bakar has expressed support for efforts to bring home Mohamad Nazir. He said yesterday that the police would be ready to help in "deradicalising" him.

"He is our countryman, he is a citizen of this country. We must take care of him and try to rehabilitate him," Tan Sri Khalid said. "That's our responsibility."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2016, with the headline 'Malaysian held at Guantanamo may be sent home'. Print Edition | Subscribe