Arrest of Malaysia’s first “suicide bomber” squad confirm the worst “Terrorist Alert” warnings by Western countries like US and Australia about Malaysia as a country of  high terrorist-risk

Media Statement
Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday):  Despite the continuation of the  unseemly and unnecessary spat between the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Australian politicians, it was the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai who was the centre of international news yesterday, featuring on CNN, BBC and all the foreign agency reports. 

BBC world news, for instance, under the headline “Suicide bombers’ held in Malaysia” reported:


“Malaysia's police chief has said for the first time that the country has detained Muslim militants who claim to have been members of a suicide  bombing squad.


“The revelation follows a claim by the suspected mastermind of the Bali bombings, Imam Samudra, that one of the blasts was detonated by a suicide bomber. If true, it would mark the first time such an attack has taken place in Indonesia.


“Head of Malaysian police Norian Mai confirmed that Malaysia had arrested some people who claimed to be suicide bombers, as part of a wider sweep of Muslim militants which has seen more than 70 people arrested.


“He did not give details.


"’In this country, we have arrested a few who are members of a suicide bombing squad,’ Mr Norian said.”


CNN, under the headline “Malaysia arrests ‘suicide bombers’” also highlighted Norian Mai’s announcement of the arrest of four  “would-be suicide bombers” who are linked in connection with a plot to bomb Western embassies in Singapore.  It said that “All four have been linked to the al Qaeda terrorist network, and were believed to have been a backup team belonging to Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), an Islamic extremist group that allegedly planned to attack the embassies of the United States, Britain, and Australia”


Norian Mai’s announcement of the arrest of Malaysia’s first “suicide bomber” squads had confirmed the worst “Terrorist Alert” warnings issued recently by Western countries like the United States and Australia about Malaysia as a country of high terrorist-risk, and nullified the protests that had been made by the Prime Minister and other top Cabinet Ministers over the latest travel advisory by the US Department of State dated 20th November 2002 that  attacks similar to last month's Bali bombing which killed nearly 200 people could take place in other Southeast Asian nations including Malaysia.


This seems to be another case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing as far as the Malaysian authorities are concerned in the war against terrorism  and further example of the catalogue of confusing and conflicting signals and messages which the government has been making in the past year on  the threat of terrorism to Malaysia.


The threat of terrorism to Malaysians, which has suddenly escalated with the appearance of potential “suicide bombers” on Malaysian soil, concerns not just the police or Cabinet Ministers, but all Malaysians and they  are entitled to a clear, frank and truthful account of  the terrorism problem so that they know where they actually stand.


The Inspector-General of Police should have regularly given full and proper briefings about the terrorist threat to all political parties and NGOs in the past 15 months and his failure to do so constitutes a major irresponsibility on his part.


Norian Mai should seek the full co-operation of the Malaysian public, and in particular the political parties and the NGOs, by giving a full and proper briefing of the threat of terrorism as well as addressing their legitimate security concerns and fears about the police responses to date.



* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman