Probe on alleged terrorist link
Wisma Putra ‘closely monitoring’ investigation by Lebanese authorities. Police to look into ‘connections’ with al-Qaeda and other groups. MONDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2012 – 13:19
by The Malay Mail Team KUALA LUMPUR
THE two Malaysian nationals alleged to be al-Qaeda terrorists are scheduled to appear in court again today.
The duo had been taken to the Military Court in Beirut, Lebanon, on Thursday when the charges were read to them.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, said the Malaysian embassy in Beirut was trying to meet the two Malaysians and had since informed their families of the arrests.
The two — Rafik Mohammed Aaref, 28, and Mohd Razin Shaaban, 21, — were arrested at a hotel in Beirut’s Hamra neighbourhood by the Lebanese Army last week.
In a press statement, Anifah said the case was being investigated by the Lebanese authorities and was “closely monitored” by Wisma Putra.
“The Malaysian embassy in Beirut is taking action to meet the two Malaysian nationals and also provide consular service,” said Anifah.
Federal Special Task Force (Operations and Counter Terrorism) director Datuk Mohamad Fuzi Harun said Malaysian police had been informed about the arrests but they needed to see the report to investigate the link in Malaysia.
“I can’t comment more as I need to see the full report first. We will investigate their link in Malaysia and connection with the al-Qaeda organisation,” he said.
On the possibility that the two were recruited in campus on Malaysian soil, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin said he would leave the investigations to the authorities.
“Let the police investigate, we don’t want to make any guesses,” said Khaled.
In Kluang, Bernama reported that Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the ministry was investigating the matter.
The ministry was waiting for a background report on the duo from Wisma Putra, he said.
“It’s too early to announce the details. However, they are not directly involved with any militant groups in this region or members of the Jemaah Islamiah or Darul Islam.
“So far, their group is outside this region,” he told reporters after an Aidiladha sacrificial offering at Kampung Sri Tambak, Sembrong in Johor.
Malaysian ambassador to Lebanon K. Ilango had confirmed yesterday that Rafik and Mohd Razin were detained at the Beirut International Airport a few days ago.
Lebanon’s Al-Joumhouria newspaper reported the duo were recruited to al-Qaeda in 2007 by a Malaysian named Mustapha Mansour.
It said the two moved to Yemen where they met other members of the organisation.
Duo tried to enter Syria
They were arrested and sentenced to jail the same year where they met Jamal al-Badawi, who is accused of the 2000 bombing of US Navy destroyer USS Cole in Yemen.
About two months ago, the duo were reported to have tried to enter Syria through Turkey on a jihadist mission, coordinated by a person named Abou Hassan who is responsible for the entry of all jihadists to Syria, said the daily.
After they failed to enter Syria, they were alleged to have headed to Lebanon to carry out terrorist attacks.
Their activities were monitored by the army intelligence and they were arrested.
A police source in Malaysia revealed the two were single and believed to have studied at a local university.
They might have also had connections with Jemaah Islamiah, said the source.
The duo were alleged to have tried to enter Syria to link up with anti-Bashar al- Assad forces, which included the Free Syrian Army, Syrian Liberation Army, Mujahideen and Kurdish forces.
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