updated 1/27/2010 11:39:22 PM ET 2010-01-28T04:39:22

Malaysia is holding 10 terror suspects with alleged ties to a Nigerian suspected in last month's attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner, a news report said Thursday.

Malaysia's home minister announced the arrests Wednesday, saying they were mainly foreigners linked to an international terrorist network.

They include four men from Syria, two from Nigeria and one each from Yemen and Jordan, said Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, head of a rights group that assists people detained under Malaysia's Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial.

They were among 50 people arrested by police while attending a religious talk by a Syrian university lecturer on Jan. 21 at a home near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's largest city, Syed Ibrahim said. The others were later released.

The government-linked New Straits Times newspaper said foreign anti-terrorism agencies told authorities that the suspects were in Malaysia and were linked to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a young Nigerian man accused of trying to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear during a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day.

The newspaper did not say how it obtained the information or how they were linked. Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein refused to elaborate Wednesday on why the suspects were detained, but said they posed a "serious threat" to security.

The suspects include students at a Malaysian university, Syed Ibrahim said. He urged the government to either charge them in court or release them.

Over the past decade, Malaysian authorities have held more than 100 militant suspects, mainly alleged members of the al-Qaida-linked Southeast Asian network Jemaah Islamiyah, which has been blamed for attacks including the 2002 bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali that killed 202 people.

Most were released after being held for years in a northern prison center. Authorities say they were rehabilitated and no longer posed a threat. None was ever charged in court.

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