Yazid Sufaat, the only Malaysian directly involved in the 9/11 terror attacks against the United States, is set to be released from prison next month, but police will continue to monitor him, the nation’s police chief says.
The 55-year-old convicted terrorist from Johor has finished his two-year sentence under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and must be released, said Abdul Hamid Bador, inspector general of police.
“This is part and parcel of the law process. He had served his sentence and when the time comes, he will be released,” Abdul Hamid told reporters. “We cannot take away his liberty. We will continue to engage with him, we will monitor him and he will still go to rehab.”
Abdul Hamid described the former army captain as a tough prisoner who underwent rehabilitation while incarcerated at the Simpang Renggam prison in Johor state since 2017.
“He was tough but the scenario is different when you are outside. We understand concerns but we cannot arrest him based on other people’s perception,” Abdul Hamid said. “My men will be on alert so that no unwanted incident would occur.”
Yazid, a U.S. trained bio-chemist, was detained under the now-defunct Internal Security Act (ISA) in December 2001 for his alleged involvement with bin Laden’s al-Qaeda. He was released in 2008 but re-arrested five years later and again in 2017 after a brief release.
Yazid was arrested in 2013 under SOSMA [the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act] and sentenced to four years for recruiting new members for the Islamic State.
Following his release, Yazid was detained in December 2017 after authorities discovered that he had been recruiting fellow inmates for al-Qaeda while in jail. He is finishing up his two-year sentence and is to be released, according to officials.
Educated in the United States
A bio-chemistry graduate from the University of Sacramento in California, Yazid joined Jemaah Islamiyah terror group shortly after its founding in 1993. He was tasked with developing anthrax as a bio-terror weapon for al-Qaeda, investigators said.
In January 2000 key al-Qaeda members met at Yazid’s home in Kuala Lumpur to discuss terror plans, according to reports. He also allegedly provided lodging to two Sept. 11 hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi.
Yazid was flown to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2001 under the command of Ayman al-Zawahiri to spend several months attempting to cultivate anthrax in a laboratory he helped set up near the Kandahar airport, according to the 9/11 commission report.
He was in Afghanistan during the Sept. 11 attack and later fled through Pakistan to Malaysia where he was caught by authorities and jailed under ISA at the Kamunting Camp prison, which housed convicted terrorists and political detainees.
Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin told reporters the government would wait for the Prevention of Terrorism Board to decide Yazid’s fate.
Muhyiddin said the board would meet next month to examine details of Yazid’s detention.
“I have not come to the final decision, I just reviewed the matter and the two-year detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) is likely to end soon,” Muhyiddin said, according to state news agency Bernama.
“Regardless, there is a procedure before the final decision is made through a single board where it will look at circumstances during the detention period and how he (Yazid) has behaved, whether he has improved or not,” he said. “This will be looked at and then the decision will be made.”