Sunday, 26-Oct-2003 2:50 PM

RESPONSE OF DATO’ SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM TO THE ATTEMPT TO CONNECT HIM TO THE “AL-QAEDA TERRORISTS”

(This statement was issued via Anwar Ibrahim’s lawyer who visited him at Sungai Buloh Prison on Saturday, 25 October 2003, and read our by his wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail in a press conference at their home on Sunday, 26 October 2003).

I strongly condemn the deception and malicious slander of the state-controlled media against me, the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) and the International Free Anwar Campaign (IFAC), with the mainstream National Front media being made use of to help promote the agenda of a small group of anti-Islam organizations.

Dr Wan Azizah reading out Anwar Ibrahim's statement. Please click picture for bigger view.

My enemies have created false accusations through which to attack me, IIIT and IFAC, attempting to connect me to al-Qaeda terrorists. They are in fact merely repeating old stories created by a minor Washington-based research outfit, which is known to be anti-Islam and which has condemned just about every Islamic organization in the United States as being involved with Al Qaeda or terrorism in general.  

It is scandalous that a national leader and the local media, which only a few days ago berated the Jews and the Western press, now allow themselves to be exploited by a group of Washington-based anti-Islam organizations such as Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) in order to denigrate IIIT, IFAC and my family. Behaviour such as this reveals the true attitude of UMNO leaders towards Islam.

A similar attempt to connect me to terrorism was made last year (February 2002), when the cooperation of an American Muslim missionary, Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, was secured by UMNO leaders to make allegations that I was funding a shady Islamic organization. Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at one time repeated Shaykh Kabbani’s original claim that I had transferred millions of ringgit to a group of terrorists and Islamic radicals in America. Shaykh Kabbani himself later denied that he had ever made such an allegation.

IIIT was founded by the late Islamic thinker Professor Dr. Ismail Faruqi together with Sheikh Taha Jabir al-Alwani, Dr. Abdul Hamid Sulayman, former Rector of the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) and me, in 1980. Sheikh Taha Jabir is a world-renowned scholar of the traditional school, and is one of the founders of the Centre for Studies of Islam and Democracy which is based in Washington DC.

IIIT has published books and journals and organized various seminars to foster Islamic thought which is development-oriented, pro-democracy and human rights, and aims to formulate strategies to enable Muslims to play an active role in modern society. The other founders of IIIT comprise religious and other scholars of high repute, who hold clear views opposing terrorism and promoting inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue. The late Ismail Faruqi was a professor of Islam at Temple University in the US, and was one of the best-known scholars of Islam not only in the US but throughout the world, and his ideas were taken up by many world leaders.

Several academic discourses and conferences were held in Malaysia, including at the invitation of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. IIIT has been active in producing academic publications on contemporary Islam, including the Journal of Islamic Social Sciences.

We have been informed that before this the SAFAR Trust as well as the Heritage Education Trust, an investment agency of IIIT, have taken legal action against Rita Katz (executive director of SITE), and against SITE itself for defamation.

It is obvious that the state-controlled media’s objective, in disseminating accusations by such anti-Islam organizations in order to sully the good name of IIIT, is simply to fulfil the narrow political agenda of national leaders. This is no more than a continuation of their malicious propaganda which earlier painted me as a CIA agent, with certain groups  labeling me as pro-America and the CIA. Since this earlier attempt met with failure they are trying a new line: that I support Al-Qaeda.

With regard to ABRAR, the relevant authorities should also refer to Tan Sri Nor Mohammad Yaacob, the Prime Minister’s Financial Advisor, who, at the time in question, was the Senior Advisor to the ABRAR Group International as well as managing director of ABRAR Corporation Berhad, together with Dr. Wan Hasni and Abdul Rahim Ghouse. ABRAR Group International is now under the ownership of DANAHARTA.

At the same time, the Ministry of Home Affairs should explain how Sheikh Yassin al-Qadi came to be given Permanent Resident status in this country.

I strenuously deny that either I, IIIT or IFAC have any connection to terrorist activities. The Malaysian authorities, especially the Police, should immediately investigate this matter, transparently and fairly, in order to restore the good reputation of IIIT. I challenge the government to urgently investigate these allegations and to make their findings public.

This BN media campaign in fact strengthens my argument all this while, that the “terrorist” label will continue to be used by autocratic leaders to oppress the opposition and any critics of the government. We are now working towards initiating legal proceedings against SITE in Washington, against SBS TV in Australia, and against the local media which has played a role in disseminating the latest allegations.

In connection with IIIT’s award of a scholarship to my daughter Nurul Izzah, I would like to state that Muslims in America made a special donation to sponsor the education of all six of my children during the five years that I have been in jail.

I believe that the media strategy is to make a big thing out of these false accusations in an attempt to confuse Malaysians. The authorities will issue a statement to the effect that investigations are be initiated, and the matter will quietly end there since their aim of arousing the people’s suspicions will have already been achieved.

Anwar Ibrahim

Sungai Buloh Prison

25 October 2003 

 

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