Ex-ISA detainee recruited militants for Malaysia's al-Qaeda through religious classes, court told

Citing information received since November 2011, Raby said Yazid conducted usrah or religious classes every Saturday at his house. — File pic
Citing information received since November 2011, Raby said Yazid conducted usrah or religious classes every Saturday at his house. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — Former Internal Security Act detainee Yazid Sufaat recruited militants to join the Malaysian branch of terrorist group al-Qaeda through weekly religious classes, a police officer told the High Court here today.

Officer ASP Mohd Raby Abu Bakar, 55, was testifying at the terrorism trial of Yazid and Muhammad Hilmi Hasim — who were detained under Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012.

Citing information received since November 2011, Raby said Yazid conducted usrah or religious classes every Saturday at his house and managed to recruit and form four cells for the alleged terrorist group Tanzim Al-Qaeda Malaysia.

“Activities done is carrying out usrah every Saturday morning and conducted by Yazid Sufaat, including activities that tended to recruit new members to join Tanzim al-Qaeda and send them to carry out jihad (holy war) in conflict areas including Syria and Southern Philippines,” said the officer with 18 years of service in the police’s counter-terrorism unit E8.

The recruits in Yazid’s group allegedly sent to engage in militant activities in Syria are the two Malaysians — Mohd Razif Mohd Ariff and Muhamad Razin Sharhan Mustafa — who are detained and awaiting trial in Lebanon, Raby said.

Another alleged recruit, Mohd Noor Fikrie Abd Kahar, was sent to Sabah together with former ISA detainee Mohd Nazri Dollah to slip into the southern Philippines, but the former was shot dead by the Philippine police on December 14, 2012, Raby said.

Presenting a chart to the court, Raby detailed the network of the four cells allegedly formed under Yazid and their recruitment methods, with the cell in Ampang, Selangor, allegedly headed by the former chemist’s wife, Chomel Mohamad.

Mohd Razif and Muhamad Razin headed two separate cells in Selangor’s Sungai Buloh and Perak’s Trolak, with both having six recruits each through face-to-face recruitment in a mosque and through the Trolak FELDA college respectively, Raby said.

The other cell was headed by another Sosma detainee, Halimah Hussein, with the fugitive currently in hiding after finding five recruits through Facebook.

Some of the cell members’ names were concealed as they fell under the “protected witnesses” category, Raby said, also testifying that they were selected through Facebook and phone communications that were followed by the usrah sessions where indoctrination took place.

Despite objections that Raby’s evidence amounted to hearsay as he was not present at the usrah sessions, the judge allowed the seventh prosecution witness to continue testifying based on his colleagues’ reports that contained information obtained from informants, agent provocateurs and intercepted communications.

Former army captain Yazid is accused of knowingly encouraging terrorist acts with the intention to promote an ideological purpose that is intended to threaten the public in Syria, while his cafeteria assistant Muhammad Hilmi was charged with abetting him in doing so.

They were charged under Section 130G(a) of the Penal Code, which covers the offence of inciting and promoting the commission of a terrorist act and carries a maximum 30-year jail term and fine.

Yazid and Hilmi were also charged under Section 130KA of the Penal Code with being members of a terrorist group — Tanzim al-Qaeda Malaysia — with those convicted of this offence liable to a maximum of life imprisonment and a fine.

The first offence was allegedly carried out between August 1 and October 20, 2012, while the second offence was allegedly committed between August 1 and February 7, 2013.

The trial before High Court judge Datuk Mohd Azman Husin resumes tomorrow morning.