Duo 'high value' Gitmo prisoners

KUALA LUMPUR - They have the distinction of being the only Malaysians detained in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre for the last eight years. That's not all - the two are also among the most feared detainees at the facility.

Mohamad Nazir Lep, who went by the aliases Bashir Lap and Lilie, and Mohd Farik Amin, also known as Yazid Zubair, are classified as "highly dangerous" terrorists and are among 14 "high value detainees" at the centre.

They are not recommended for immediate release, according to available US Department of Defence documents, and their fate hangs in the balance.

They were detained on suspicion of terrorism in 2003 when Mohamad Nazir, 38, was picked up in Thailand and Mohd Farik, 39, in Cambodia.

They were transferred to Guantanamo on Sept 4, 2006.

US intelligence sources believed that they were part of a suicide plot involving the hijack of a commercial passenger plane in a second-wave attack after Sept 11, 2001.

Mohamad Nazir, who attended flight training schools, was a member of a cell slated to conduct hijacking of 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 alleged to be a senior member of the JI and al-Qaeda.

The Guantanamo Bay detention centre, also referred to as Guantanamo or Gitmo, is a US military prison in a naval base which fronts Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Set up in 2002, the centre holds prisoners deemed as extraordinarily dangerous, and most are detainees captured from Afghanis-tan, Iraq, Africa and South-East Asia.

According to a US Embassy spokesman here, "both Malaysians at Guantanamo Bay have been referred for potential prosecution".

The official said that until such time that charges were brought against them, they were eligible to have their cases reviewed by the Periodic Review Board.

"The board will determine whether their continued detention is necessary to protect against continued threats against the United States," the official added.

USM criminologist Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy said there was no indication the two could be released as the United States still regarded them as dangerous with the possibility of returning to militant work if released.

"It is going to be a long haul in detention for them," he added.

It is understood that the two have been allowed to send letters including photographs, which are vetted, to their families via the International Red Cross Organisa-tion.

It is believed the two Malaysians could provide the United States valuable information on radical groups and their operations.

It is said that they were interrogated at CIA's "black sites", as these highly-classified locations are known, before being sent to Guantanamo.

Reports said Mohamad Nazir and Mohd Farik were interrogated on Diego Garcia island, a CIA operation centre in the remote Indian Ocean.

Besides the two, Indonesian Hambali, 50, who had Malaysian permanent residence, is being detained in Guantanamo Bay.

Hambali or Riduan Isamuddin, is a member of the Jemaah Islamiyyah who had direct contact with Osama bin Laden and was regarded as his point man in South-East Asia.

Hambali was involved in the 2002 Bali bombing which killed over 200 people and was regarded as the third-in-command in al-Qaeda.

His Malaysian wife was also a detainee under the Internal Security Act.