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

Media Statement
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:

“An international thinktank has warned that outlawed Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) has become divided, with Malaysian elements pressing for a more radical approach to Jihad, or Holy War.


“The International Crisis Group (ICG), which is headed by former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, says JI's Indonesia-based reputed spiritual leader Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, is being challenged by younger men who find him insufficiently radical…


"Abu Bakar Ba'asyir .... is the formal head of Jemaah Islamiyah, but a deep rift has emerged between him and the JI leadership in Malaysia, who find him insufficiently radical."


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:

  • Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) was set up in Malaysia by Indonesian nationals in the mid-1990s to set up a pan-Islamic state in Southeast Asia through terrorist means and revolution, has links to al-Qaeda and  a network of supporters across Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the southern Philippines, reaching  out to Muslim organizations in Thailand and Burma.   It is led by Indonesian nationals, with a loose structure characterised by four territorial divisions known as mantiqis that cover peninsular Malaysia and Singapore; Java; Mindanao, Sabah and Sulawesi; and Australia and Papua respectively. 

  • In late 1999, Abu Bakar Ba’ayir, as head of JI, called a meeting at the International Islamic University in Malaysia to set up the International Mujahidin Association (Rabitatul Mujahidin or RM). Maria Concepcion Clamor, chief of research and analysis at the Philippine National Intelligence Coordination Agency, had earlier described Rabitatul Mujahidin as JI’s  “fighting arm” - a clandestine group that tried  to unite different armed Muslim groups in the region and which hatched the plots to assassinate Megawarti Soekarnoputri and the Christmas Eve bombings in Indonesia. 

  • JI has been linked to dozens of deadly attacks across Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia from 1999 to the present. Until the Bali bombings, the most notable attacks were the Christmas Eve bombings of December 2000, covering 38 churches or priests in eleven cities across six provinces in Indonesia, with more than 30 bombs delivered and all wired to explode around the same time.  

  • The real background,  circumstances and truth of the grenade attack on the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta on 27th August 2000. 

  • Plans for the Christmas Eve  bombings in Indonesia  were finalized in October 2000 in a meeting in Kuala Lumpur, with different JI operatives assigned parts of the plan: “Hambali was primarily responsible for Jakarta, Yazid Sufaat, a JI leader in Malaysia and now in detention there, for Medan; Imam Samudra for Batam and Enjang Bastaman alias Jabir for Bandung”.  There was another meeting in Kuala Lumpur  of the key figures, including Hambali,  Faiz Bafana  (“a Malaysian JI member who grew up in Jakarta and is now detained in Singapore”) and Imam Samudra before Christmas Eve. The ICG report mentioned that Yazid Sufaat “has reportedly boasted about his role in the Medan bombings”. 

  • Various JI meetings at the Kuala Lumpur Airport to evaluate the various terrorist bombings and attacks, such as  the Christmas Eve 2000  bombings, involving key JI operatives like Hambali and Zulkifli Marzuki, “a Malaysian identified in one report as the ‘secretary’ of JI”.  The ICG report also referred to another meeting to evaluate the “Bandung disaster” of the Christmas Eve bombings at “MNZ Associates, a private business, in Kuala Lumpur” which was attended by Hambali, Muchlas (Amrozi’s elder brother), Abu Bakar Ba’syir, Imam Samudra and Teuku Idris.   One key JI operative, Jabir, was killed when one of the bombs destined for the Bandung churches accidentally detonated. 

  • The case of Taufik Abdul Halim alias Dani, 26, a Malaysian convicted and sentenced to death for his role in the August 2001 Atrium Mall bombing in Jakarta, “another JI operation”.  The ICG report contained the  shocking statement that Taufik’s brother, Zulkifli bin Abdul Hir, is in detention as a JI member in Malaysia and is accused of killing Dr. Joe Fernandez, at the time  the Barisan Nasional Kedah State Assemblyman for Lunas.

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:

  • The reservation raised by  Abdullah at the end of October  over the proposal that the United Nations ban JI as a terrorist organization; and 

  • Case of Yazid Sufaat, who was interrogated by the FBI at the Kamunting Detention Centre last month over his links with the 20th  September 11 hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, who is currently standing trial in New York. FBI alleged that Yazid provided Moussaoui with cash and references to enter the United States and  his condominium in Kajang was used  for a top-level al-Qaeda meeting in January 2000 which was attended by two of the September 11 hijackers, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaq Alhazmi, who crashed an American Airlines jetliner into the Pentagon.  In September, Abdullah dismissed Yazid as a “small fry” who was unaware of the identities of the al-Qaeda operatives and what they discussed at his condominium – which becomes questionable if the ICG report about Yazid’s key role in JI is true.

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