DAP calls for a Government White Paper on the latest Brussels-based International Crisis Group report which shattered Malaysia’s innocence with its picture of the country as a launching pad for al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist bombings and attacks in South East Asia since 1999
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): DAP fully supports the call by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that the United Nations expunge the UN Security Council report which linked the Barisan Nasional with the al-Qaeda movement, wanting the report to be cleansed of all such mention.
In the past week, the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had more than once expressed his disappointment and displeasure at the failure of the UN Security Council to remove the linkage of Barisan Nasional with al-Qaeda, which appeared indirectly in the second report of the UN Security Council Monitoring Group on al-Qaeda published in October in an annex with a chart of al-Qaeda’s linkages in South-East Asia.
At the end of October, there was a week-long furore over terrorism analyst Rohan Gunaratna’s book, “Inside Al Qaeda – Global Network of Terror?”, blaming the author for the reference in the UN Report with Cabinet Ministers leading the pack baying for his blood, with threats to ban the book, declare him a persona non grata as well as sue him for defamation – until the frenzy abruptly fizzled out when it was discovered that in his book, Rohan never linked the BN directly to al-Qaeda but to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Strangely enough, Rohan was “lionized” a month later when he was invited by the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) to the federal capital to give a lecture on terrorism and al-Qaeda.
The UN Security Council Monitoring Group had been most unfair to and defamatory of Malaysia in its slipshod and unprofessional report with its annex and chart linking Barisan Nasional and Malaysia to al-Qaeda, even though in an indirect manner, and the UN Security Council owes Malaysia a fulsome apology while the British chairman of the monitoring group, Michael Chandler, should be reprimanded if not removed for such a major slip-up.l
However, in their concern about the failure of the UN Security Council to expunge any reference in its report to any linkage between the Barisan Nasional and al-Qaeda, both Mahathir and Abdullah seemed to have overlooked a more serious problem - the ever-increasing pile of reports aggravating what Mahathir had admitted for the first time in his Hari Raya message last week as the alarming situation where Malaysia is regarded internationally as a “terrorist centre”, highly detrimental to Malaysia’s economic well-being and future in frightening away foreign investors and tourists.
Even more damaging than the UN Security Council report is the latest report of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) released world-wide on 11th December entitled “How the Jemaah Islamiyah Terrorist Network Operates” which shattered Malaysia’s innocence with its picture of the country as a launching pad for al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist bombings and attacks in South East Asia since 1999.
The ICG report is a thousand times more devastating than the UN Security Council report as the latter’s annex was barely noticed when it was published which in any event did not make any direct link between Malaysia and al-Qaeda, while the ICG report had been splashed all over the world over print and electronic media in the past 10 days right from the first day of its release, prominently fingering Malaysia in the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror network, which is suspected of being responsible for the Oct. 12 Bali bombings killing some 200 people.
On the release of the ICG report on December 11, Malaysia’s connection to the terrorism of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah was brought into the homes of hundreds of millions of people in the world whether by broadcast networks or cable television.
CNN for instance carried the ICG report in its headline news, featuring Malaysia in the opening paragraph of its story when it said:
On Tuesday this week, the alternative global news agency inter Press Service carried a report based on the ICG finding entitled “Malaysia: Terror links run deep” which was picked up and reproduced by print and electronic media worldwide.
It is most strange and inexplicable that Mahathir and Abdullah could devote so much time and energies on the comparatively insignificant UN Security Council report on al-Qaeda which did not make any direct linkage between the Barisan Nasional and Malaysia with al-Qaeda but they could be so oblivious of the highly damaging ICG report deeply implicating Malaysia in the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah network and history of terror in South-East Asia since 1999 – showing no concern, reaction or response for the past ten days.
DAP calls on the Government to issue a White Paper on the ICG report as a concrete and important measure to counter and eliminate the international perception of Malaysia as a “terrorist centre” because of links with Jemaah Islamiyah and al-Qaeda - serious enough to merit a public acknowledgement by the Prime Minister in his Hari Raya message last week.
The Government White Paper should deal specifically with the various references, analysis and findings which directly bear on Malaysia, in particular:
A White Paper on the ICG report is urgent and imperative especially as Malaysian leaders have made several contradictory statements in the past raising questions about their commitment in the war against terrorism, as in the two following instances:
Another reason for a Government White Paper on the ICG report is the right
of Malaysians to be informed by the government of the threat of
terrorism, national, regional and international, which is long overdue as
Malaysians are tired of reading about such information only from foreign
media and sources.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman