Call on IGP to fix an early date to give an urgent  briefing to  DAP leaders and MPs on the Al Qaeda network, cells and activities in Malaysia after Mahathir’s shocking revelation of Osama bin Laden’s extensive reach to Malaysia

Media  Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Friday)The biggest “shocker” in the interview of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to the Japanese magazine Chuokoron published yesterday is his open admission that Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda terrorist network have recruited about 50 Malaysians into its operations - demonstrating the extensive reach of Osama bin Laden in Malaysia.

This is from the interview, which was carried by the New Straits Times today:

“Q: In Malaysia, there are some Malaysians who are involved with al-Qaeda?

A: Yes, about 50.  We have tracked down quite a number of them. They were trained in Afghanistan.”

I describe this revelation by Mahathir as a “shocker” as in the past four months since the September 11 terrorist suicide attacks on New York and Washington - except for one occasion last Thursday  - both the government and the police had  been most strenuous and categorical  to deny that Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda had any network, link or activities in Malaysia.

On 14th October, 2001, for instance, the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin told Parliament that no link had been established between the Al-Qaeda and the Kumpulan Militant Malaysia (KMM) while the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had a few days earlier  expressed surprise at  foreign press reports about the existence of Al-Qaeda cells in the country.

Only on Monday (7.1.2002), Defence Minister Datuk Najib Tun Razak unequivocally  stated that there were no al-Qaeda cells or presence in Malaysia.

I mentioned that there had only been one exception in the past four months to the total and blanket government and police denial of any al-Qaeda link in Malaysia, and that was last Friday, when the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai, announced the new batch of 13 arrests alleging that they were involved in a “new wing of KMM” different from the wing allegedly headed by Nik Mohd Adli Nik Aziz, son of the Kelantan Mentri Besar.
But Norian Mai was only talking about checking reports that one of the 13 most recently arrested in connection with the alleged second and new KMM wing had links with  the two suicide terrorists Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi who piloted the aircraft that crashed into the Pentagon and the “20th suicide hijacker”, Zacarias Moussaoiu, the Moroccan with the French nationality whom the United Statets has charged with conspiring with Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda in the hijacking of the two commercial aircrafts which were used in the September 11 suicide attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York.

How did checking reports that there was one al-Qaeda contact in Malaysia mushroom in a matter of days (and after months of public denial that there are al-Qaeda cells in the country - the latest by the Defence Minister only four days ago) into  a formidable array of some 50 al-Qaeda operatives and  contacts in Malaysia as stated by the Prime Minister in his interview in Japan yesterday?

I have formally written to Norian Mai asking the Inspector-General of Police for a briefing on  the al-Qaeda terrorist network, cells and activities in Malaysia and the overall threat of terrorism faced by the country in the light of the latest Jane Intelligence Review report warning that although Al Qaeda’s network in the United States, Europe and East Africa has been disrupted significantly as a result of investigations and widespread arrests, its  network of cells and support structures in Asia remains virtually intact, both before and after September 11 and is likely to become the “last bastion” of Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda operations.

With Mahathir’s shocking revelation that there are some 50  al-Qaeda operatives and contacts in Malaysia, it is even more urgent and imperative that Norian Mai fix an early date to give a   briefing to  DAP leaders and MPs on the Al Qaeda network, cells and activities in Malaysia and Osama bin Laden’s extensive reach to Malaysia.

The issue of terrorism, whether national or international, sacrificing innocent civilian victims for whatever cause, has assumed greater saliency and urgency for the world after the September 11 terrorist attacks - and Malaysia is no exception.

Malaysia must develop its own  national strategy to combat and immunize the country and people from all forms of terrorism, whether national or international, which must be based on a national consensus transcending party politics and religions securing the support of all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation.  This national strategy and consensus against terrorism must comprise at least two important elements:
· Unequivocal and unconditional condemnation of all forms of terrorism in Malaysia, whether national or international, by all political parties in the country; and
· Solemn undertaking by all political parties, whether in power or opposition - whether Barisan Nasional, Barisan Alternative or DAP -  as well as the government, covering its  police, security, intelligence and information  apparatus, never to exploit or “politicise” the issue and  war against terrorism for petty, narrow sectional ends - starting with the Indera Kayangan by-election.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman