SINGAPORE Singapore said on Monday that a
suspected Islamic militant managed to escape from a detention
centre two months ago mainly because of an unlocked window in
the toilet -- and fled without his trousers.
Wong Kan Seng, Singapore's deputy prime minister, told
parliament that Mas Selamat bin Kastari flipped his trousers
above the cubicle door before escaping through a window.
"The guard had assumed that the urinal cubicle was a secure
facility and that Mas Selamat could not escape from it. This
assumption was wrong," he said.
Wong said Kastari had planned his escape "over time" and
that the two guards who escorted him to the toilet had "failed
in their duties".
"In my view, the security weakness of this window is the
single most crucial factor which enabled Mas Selamat to
escape," he added.
Wong said he was not sure how Kastari managed to get over
the double perimeter fence at the centre, but said he could
have "exploited a weakness" in a section of the fencing.
Kastari, the suspected leader of the Singapore cell of al
Qaeda-linked militant network Jemaah Islamiah (JI), escaped in
February from a detention centre where he was being held for
allegedly plotting to crash a plane into Singapore's airport.
His escape sparked a massive manhunt on the tiny city-state
that saw Nepali Gurkhas combing forests and a global security
alert from Interpol. JI has been blamed for the 2002 nightclub
bombings in Bali that killed 202 people.
Wong said that the investigation into Kastari's escape
concluded that he received no help from the centre's guards or
staff and was not assisted by someone from the outside.
The escape was seen by some experts as highly embarrassing
for Singapore, which prides itself on tight security. Wong said
the authorities were considering building a new detention
centre inside a prison.
Singapore, a strong U.S. ally and a major base for Western
businesses, sees itself as a prime target in the region after
it said it foiled JI plots in 2001 to attack its airport and
other sites, including the U.S. embassy, the American Club and
the Singapore American School.
(Reporting by Melanie Lee and Daryl Loo; Editing by Neil
Chatterjee and Alex Richardson)