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Last Updated: Friday, 12 September, 2003, 18:29 GMT 19:29 UK
Malaysia's PAS backs bombers
Abdul Hadi Awang speaking at the PAS General Assembly
Abdul Hadi Awang was speaking at the PAS General Assembly
The leader of Malaysia's main opposition party has expressed support for the actions of suicide bombers in the Middle East and Chechnya.

Abdul Hadi Awang made the remarks at a party conference on the eve of being confirmed as the new president of Malaysia's hard-line Islamic party, PAS.

Abdul Hadi said PAS would continue to support the Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

"We support Hamas, because they are Palestinians who are being oppressed," he said, describing Israel as being a "terrorist and criminal".

But he said he did not support terror attacks in Indonesia, and condemned those responsible for last month's bombing at the Marriott hotel in Jakarta.

And he accused the United States and its allies of being "imperialist powers who are finding ways to be confrontational with Islam".

'Defenceless people of Palestine'

Abdul Hadi Awang's message was always expected to be uncompromising, says the BBC correspondent in Kuala Lumpur, Jonathan Kent.

The PAS leader not only voiced support for the Palestinian cause, but also for suicide bombers, describing them as martyrs.

His comments were echoed by those of the secretary-general of PAS, Nasahruddin Mat Isa, who spoke to the BBC on Friday.

Mr Nasahruddin told the East Asia Today programme that the "defenceless people of Palestine" had been killed, shot and bombed.

"So what they're doing we consider to be an act of self-defence," he said.

Mr Nasahruddin also denounced the recent bombing in Jakarta.

"We are against terrorism; we are against any act of aggression," he said. "We do not condone any activities that are related to civilians."

Abdul Hadi will lead PAS - Malaysia's largest opposition group - into the next general elections, which are expected to take place next year.

The elections will be the first time in 22 years that the government's campaign is not led by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is soon due to retire.

Secretary-General of PAS, Nasahruddin Mat Isa
"The people of Palestine & Chechnya are defending themselves against the atrocities being done against them"

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