Government White Paper on al-Qaeda linked terrorist networks and activities in Malaysia in the past decade an important step to eradicate international perception of Malaysia as a "terrorist centre"

Media Conference Statement (2)
Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Thursday): The Star has been carrying a two-series article by Wong Chun Wai and Lourdes Charles entitled "Hambali - man behind the terror trial" as the New Year offering to accompany its new format, which is primarily based on 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".

While any effort to provide more information to Malaysians about al-Qaeda-linked terrorist networks and activities is to be commended, as it can only contribute to greater understanding as to why, as the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad acknowledged in his recent Hari Raya Address, Malaysia has been perceived internationally as a "terrorist centre" and to finding an effective solution to eradicate such a perception which is highly detrimental to Malaysia's economic future, the following observations are in order:

  • the three-week delay before The Star carries the two-series article based on the ICG report;

  • the total lack of official and proper response from the government and the police to the ICG 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.

A week after its release, DAP had called for a Government White Paper on the ICG report which I had described as a thousand times more damaging that the UN Security Council Monitoring Group on al-Qaeda in October which indirectly linked the Barisan Nasional to al-Qaeda through the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as it prominently fingered Malaysia as the hub and launching-pad of al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist networks and series of devastating bombing sprees in Southeast Asia in the past few years.

It is most regrettable that the government and police had not been able to respond positively to the DAP's call for a White Paper on the ICG report which has deepened international perceptions that Malaysia's "Terror links run deep", and the only thing the police seemed capable of doing is to provide some confirmation to the two-series Star article on Hambali about the ICG report but which scrupulously steered clear of questions highlighting the grave failures of the Malaysian intelligence community.

This is just not good enough, and DAP calls on the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai and the Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to give serious consideration to the urgent publication of a White Paper on the ICG Report as well as al-Qaeda linked terrorist networks and activities in Malaysia in the past decade as an important step to eradicate the international perception of Malaysia as a "terrorist centre"

What Malaysians want is a professional account, untainted by any political bias or motives, about the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist networks, sleeper cells and activities in the country.

We do not want a situation where any international report adversely implicating the Barisan Nasional with al Qaeda is immediately condemned as fabrications and defamation like the UN Security Council Monitoring Report while reports implicating the Opposition are regarded as gospel truth, such as the ICG report linking Nik Adli Nik Aziz, the son of Kelantan Mentri Besar and PAS spiritual leader, in high-level meetings of al Qaeda-linked terrorist organizations in the region.

The Star article said Malaysian intelligence sources confirmed that Nik Adli representing Kumpulan Militan Malaysia (KMM) attended the meetings of the Rabitatul Mujahidin (RM), which has been described as the JI military arm to forge co-operation among the militant Islamic groups in Southeast Asia such as Laskar Jundullah and the Majlis Mujahidin Indonesia (MMI), the KMM in Kuala Lumpur, the MILF and the Abu Sayap Group in the Philippines, the JI in Singapore and other Islamic extremist groups in Thailand and Burma to set up a Daulah Ismiah - an independent Islamic State encompassing Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, the Southern Philippines and Thailand.

The question that should be asked is why the Malaysian intelligence authorities knew nothing about the establishment of the Rabitatul Mujahidin in Malaysia by `Abu Bakar Ba'asyir in late 1999 in a meeting at the International Islamic University in Gombak and the three RM meetings held in the country until long after the events?

Quoting "various sources", the Star said at least 20 people attended the inaugural meeting of Rabitatul Mujahidin and referred to the ICG report and said "at least 10 JI inner circle members attended". The ICG Report's note on those who attended the inaugural meeting of RM, apart from Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, were: "Hambali, Abu Fatih, Ustadz Muklas, A. Umar, Aziz Kahar Muzakkar, Ali A.T. and Hassan Kamal; Agus Dwikarna and Tamsil Linrung; Eri Djunaidy, Lamkaruna Putra (Fauzi Hasbi's son), and Faturrahman from Republik Islam Aceh; Tk. Idris, and his younger brother, Tgk. Muhammed from MP-GAM; a man known as Abu Huraerah from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front; Ustadz Salim Ullah, another Afghanistan veteran, from the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation; Nik Adli and one other man from PAS, Malaysia; Abu Hafiz Ismael and one other man from PULO, Thailand; a Darul Islam representative from Indonesia; and Nurul Islam from the Arakanese Rohingya Nationalist Organisation (ARNO)."

The Star said Malaysian police officials confirmed that between 1999 and 2000, three meetings of RM were held in Petaling Jaya, Gombak and Perak but it could not obtain the names of those present. The police however confirmed that KMM members were present at the meetings.

It is surprising that information from police intelligence led The Star to pass the following judgment RM: "It is understood that Hambali was elected secretary-general of the movement, which is said to be inactive".

This is clearly not the conclusion of the intelligence services of other countries in the region with regard to RM.

Intelligence sources from other countries have reported for instance that at the second meeting of RM in Kuala Lumpur in mid-2000, key leaders issued a resolution "to carry out attacks on Philippine interests" resulting in the bomb attacks on the residence of the Philippines ambassador to Indonesia in August 2000 as well as other bombing incidents in Indonesia and Manila.

One report said: "At least two representatives for each militant group in Southeast Asia attended the 2000 meeting presided by Ba'asyir. Among the participants were: Hambali, Agus Dwikarna from Sulawesi, Tenku Idris from Aceh, Ibrahim Maidin from Singapore, Abu Fatah from Thailand, Abu Huraira of the MILF, Abu Fathi from Indonesia, Nik Adli Abdul Aziz from Malaysia and two leaders from Burma".

In November 2000, the RM met for the third time, in Perak, and elected Hambali as secretary-general. Late November the same year, a fourth meeting was held in Solo, Indonesia where the attack on Indonesian churches on Christmas Eve and other attacks in the Philippines were planned.

Are these reports from the intelligence services of other countries confirmed by the Malaysian intelligence, and if so, Malaysians are entitled to know about them in a Government White Paper.

The Star article broke new ground in revealing that Hambali had at least RM2 million cash in hand to run his campaign of terror while he was operating in the region headquartered in Malaysia, using the money to buy arms, send JI members for training in Afghanistan, blow up a train station in Manila and stage bombings in churches in Indonesia - including the most recent Bali bomb blasts.

It reported that Hambali obtained a Class E contractor's licence in Malaysia and was awarded government tenders, including the installation of water pipes in Selangor and the tender to supply stationery to a school in Selangor.

How could Hambali get a Class E contractor's licence and government tenders when he is not a Malaysian citizen and had merely permanent resident status?

These are among the many questions which Malaysians are entitled to answers which should be in a government White Paper, if the authorities are serious in wanting to eradicate the international perception of Malaysia as a "terrorst centre".


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman