On the contrary, there appears to be a burst of the floodgates and Malaysia is awash with international media reports linking the country to the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States despite strenuous denials by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and other Cabinet Ministers.
The spate of adverse international media reports started on Monday with the Newsweek story citing a Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) report that Malaysia was a launchpad for the Sept 11 terror attacks on the United States.
This was followed with a USA TODAY of 30th January 2002 report also quoting the FBI as describing Malaysia as ''one of the primary operational launch pads'' for the September 11 terrorist attacks as “Preparations for the September 11 attacks on the United States took place in Kuala Lumpur” and that US leaders “increasingly see Malaysia as a key front in the war on terrorism”.
The next day, the NEW YORKS TIMES of 31st January 2002 under the headline “Suspect calls Malaysia a Staging Area for Terror Attacks” reported that the United States Government is negotiating with the Malaysian Government to extradite Yazid Sufaat, 37, the former army captain detained in Kedah on December 9 last year and one of the 23 held under the Internal Security Act for allegedly being involved in the second militant wing of KMM.
The New York Times quoted Bush Administration officials as describing Sufaat as “an operative of al Qaeda” who “appeared to have operated as a paymaster for (Zacarias) Moussaoui “, French national of Moroccan descent and the only man charged so far in connection with the Sept 11 attacks.
So far, these American media reports cited secret FBI reports and faceless and nameless “US Administration officials” but the Washington Post of February 1, 2002 has intensified the international pressure on Malaysia when it quoted FBI Director Robert Mueller III himself as saying that FBI investigators believe the September 11 terror attacks on New York and the Pentagon were planned in part by al Qaeda operatives in Malaysia.
The Washington Post report under the heading “FBI Says Malaysia Was
Site of Sept. 11 Planning” said:
“FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said yesterday that investigators believe the Sept. 11 terror attacks were planned in part by al Qaeda operatives in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim nation whose connection to the plot has only recently emerged.
“Mueller and other US officials have indicated, since shortly after September 11, that much of the planning for the deadly jetliner assaults took place in Germany, where three of the hijackers lived, with help from operatives in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.
“But Mueller said yesterday that some of the planning also occurred in Malaysia. It was the clearest signal yet from a US official that the Asian nation is emerging as a focus of efforts to unravel the hijacking plot and thwart future attacks.
“Other Bush administration officials said this week that investigators had found evidence that a retired Malaysian soldier, Yazid Sufaat, provided $35,000 in Kuala Lumpur in the fall of 2000 to Zacarias Moussaoui, a French national who was detained in Minnesota last August and who has been charged in Alexandria with conspiring with the September 11 hijackers.
“US officials also believe Sufaat met with two of the September 11 hijackers in January 2000, sources said. The United States is debating whether to extradite Sufaat, one of two dozen alleged Muslim extremists who have been detained by Malaysian police.
“Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said this week there was no Malaysian connection with the September 11 attacks.”
Is Rais Yatim now considering not only initiating legal action against international magazines, but also the FBI Director, Robert Mueller III, for defaming Malaysia?
The government should not delay any further to issue a White Paper on Kumpulan Militant Malaysia (KMM), Jemaah Islamiah and al Qaeda in Malaysia - to answer the teeming questions in the minds of Malaysians and to salvage Malaysia’s international credibility. It is intolerable that every day the international media are awash with reports about al-Qaeda operatives and links in Malaysia while the Malaysian media itself full of reports of government denials that there are al Qaeda operatives and links in the country.
It is in the national interest that this international credibility gap afflicting Malaysia which had suddenly surfaced concerning al-Qaeda operatives and links in the country should be resolved satisfactorily immediately, if it is not to further undermine international confidence in Malaysia’s economic future.
The White Paper should also deal with the question as to whether the FBI is spearheading an international conspiracy to besmirch Malaysia as a “haven of terrorism”.
It is most regrettable that the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai, had not acted on the DAP proposal that he should give a full briefing to all political parties on the threat of terrorism to Malaysia’s security, which is not helpful in helping to resolve the national and international credibility crisis confronting the Malaysian government and security authorities.