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Thursday, 1 November, 2001, 12:11 GMT
Malaysian PM condemns bombing
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia was not an "extreme" country
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has once more condemned the bombing of Afghanistan and urged the US to instead tackle the reasons behind the attacks on New York and Washington.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Dr Mahathir said he supported the US in its fight against terrorism.


We do not believe attacking Afghanistan is going to help

Dr Mahathir
But he said he risked losing support from his own people if he was "seen to be going all out unthinkingly supporting America".

"The feeling about the American bombing is strong and getting stronger," he said.

"Not only confined to the opposition parties but among Muslims in general and even non-Muslims in this country are not happy about the bombing."

But he said Malaysians were not "extreme" in their views and did not condone terrorism.

"We do not believe attacking Afghanistan is going to help," he said.

Roots

Dr Mahathir said there "must be a reason" why hijackers prepared to fly two aeroplanes into New York's World Trader Center.

Muslim child
Malaysia is a mainly Muslim country
"They [the US] have to find the roots of the problem," he said. "People don't just blow themselves up for nothing.

"They may be misguided but we have to know. Why did they do this?"

The reason as far as Malaysia could make out, he said, was the violence in the Middle East and Chechnya "where Muslims are being attacked and killed."

"The world doesn't seem to care," he said. "Even in Bosnia 200,000 people had to die before the west moved to protect the Bosnians."

Dr Mahathir, speaking to the BBC's Edward Stourton, said the authorities had passed on information to the US when it was thought that US personnel in Malaysia were at risk.

And he defended his own crackdown on the Malaysian Mujahideen Group (KMM), which the authorities have blamed for a series of crimes including bank thefts, an assassination and the bombing of a church and a temple.

Several alleged members, including Nik Adli Nik Aziz, the son of the spiritual leader of the opposition Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS) Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, have now been detained since August.

They were arrested under Malaysia's internal security law (ISA), which allows detention without trial.

"We have taken action against these people," said Dr Mahathir.

See also:

22 Oct 01 | South Asia
Asian warnings over Ramadan
12 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Malaysian PM urges end to bombings
24 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Malaysia denies harbouring terrorists
19 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Asian casualties mount in New York
04 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Malaysia's fearsome security law
15 Nov 99 | Asia-Pacific
Profile: Malaysia's strongman Mahathir
23 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Mahathir hints at leadership change
11 Jun 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Malaysia
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