Militant group was plotting war in Malaysia for Islamic state, court told

Raby said militant groups in Southeast Asia believed that their political objective of forming an Islamic state cannot be achieved through elections and is best achieved through warfare. — Reuters file pic
Raby said militant groups in Southeast Asia believed that their political objective of forming an Islamic state cannot be achieved through elections and is best achieved through warfare. — Reuters file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — A home-grown militant group linked to terrorist group al-Qaeda intended to form an Islamic state in Malaysia by carrying out a war and launching attacks here, a counter-terrorism officer told the High Court here today.

Police officer ASP Mohd Raby Abu Bakar, 55, was testifying at the terrorism trial of two detainees under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 — Yazid Sufaat and Muhammad Hilmi Hasim.

When testifying about Yazid’s alleged terrorist group Tanzim al-Qaeda Malaysia, Raby said militant groups in Southeast Asia believed that their political objective of forming an Islamic state cannot be achieved through elections and is best achieved through warfare.

He said the methods used involved sending recruits for military training in conflict-torn zones and to learn how to make improvised explosive devices.

“And when they return to Malaysia and they already have sufficient knowledge to plot a war in Malaysia, whether through small-scale or large-scale or lone wolf attacks,” the officer with 18 years of service in the police’s counter-terrorism unit E8 testified today.

“The E8 unit also believed the Tanzim al-Qaeda is moving to that direction. It’s good that we take steps to disrupt that process from early on before it becomes serious,” he added.

Alleging that Yazid had “indoctrinated” new Tanzim al-Qaeda recruits with militant ideologies, Mohd Raby also explained that this included the doctrine of armed attacks to set up an Islamic state.

“In the Malaysian context, they also believed parliament is berhala (idolatrous) and has to be demolished,” said the major officer who is tasked with monitoring and investigating domestic and Indonesian militant threats.

Citing Arabic language experts, Raby said the word “Tanzim” meant that Tanzim al-Qaeda would be defined as a “branch” or a cell with direct links to the Arab-based al-Qaeda that was led by the now-deceased terrorist Osama bin Laden and his successor Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Yazid has posted the name of his group on social media site Facebook, Raby said, adding that the “significant” link between the actual al-Qaeda and its Malaysian branch laid in its shared ideology of launching a war to establish an Islamic state.

Raby, who had served in the police force for 35 years, said it was believed that Yazid had links to al-Qaeda when he fought in Afghanistan with other militants in the past.

He also claimed that Yazid had previously provided logistics support to four attackers tied to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US involving hijacked planes, but defence lawyers raised objections as the old allegations were never proven and related to events that occurred years before the current charges against Yazid. 

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.