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Friday, 18 October, 2002, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
Malaysia protests over al-Qaeda 'link'
Malaysian police chief Norian Mai holds a copy of the photos of arrested militants on Wednesday
Malaysia says it is at the forefront of the war on terror

Malaysia has lodged a protest over a United Nations report which links the Malaysian government to al-Qaeda.

Malaysia's deputy prime minister called the report untruthful and offensive, and said it was in complete contrast to his government's tough stand against Islamic extremism.


There have been persistent suggestions that al-Qaeda channelled money through Malaysia prior to the 11 September attacks on America

The report which has so angered Malaysia's government was commissioned by the United Nations Security Council.

It quotes from a book, Inside Al Qaeda, by the Sri Lankan author Rohan Gunaratna.

He links a number of Malaysian organisations, including the governing Barisan Nasional coalition, to al-Qaeda.

He says the two have political and ideological connections through the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which is campaigning for an Islamic state in the southern Philippines.

'Wild and irresponsible'

Malaysia's opposition Islamist party Pas, and three other Islamic groups, are also named in the report.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi, called the references to his government "wild and irresponsible" and asked for them to be removed.

He said the government is considering legal action against Mr Gunaratna.

Mr Badawi said Malaysia has taken an uncompromising stand against terrorism.

Al-Qaeda money channel?

His government has supported the United States government's so-called war on terror, and has arrested more than 70 people in the last year suspected of involvement with militant Islamic groups.

Earlier this week five men were arrested in Malaysia accused of belonging to a group linked to Jemaah Islamiah which is suspected of being behind last weekend's bombings in Bali.

There have been persistent suggestions that al-Qaeda channelled money through Malaysia prior to the 11 September attacks on America.

Senior al-Qaeda figures are known to have visited Malaysia, and the fear here is that if the country becomes associated in people's minds with militant Islam, it will drive away both tourism and foreign investment.

See also:

17 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
16 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
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04 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
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