October 25 , 2002

Gunaratna May Be Asked To Explain BN-MILF Links

By Ahmad Fuad Yahya

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 (Bernama) -- Questions on the ideological and political links said to exist between the Barisan Nasional and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will be raised during a dialogue session with terrorist expert Dr Rohan Gunaratna at the Istitute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) of Malaysia next month.
ISIS Director-General Datuk Mohamed Jawhar Hassan said the dialogue would provide an opportunity for invited guests to raise this matter with the author of the book "Inside Al-Qaeda: Global Network of Terror" and also ask him about the sources of the information contained in his book.
"We want to know about this ideological and political links between the BN and the MILF and also about other issues contained in the book so that we will understand this relationship better."
"We want to know the actual ideological and political links between the BN and MILF, as this issue has raised questions," he said in an interview with Bernama.
Mohamed Jawhar nevertheless said, the dialogue session with Gunaratna on "Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia: The Threat and Response" was not organised because of the controversy the book had raised here but was one of the routine functions organised by the ISIS.
He said the talk and dialogue scheduled for Nov 21 and 22 at the ISIS here would be attended by 15 to 20 invited guests comprising academics and senior national security officials who had an interest in the subject.
"The ISIS invited Dr Gunaratna long before the issue about his book became a big talking point."
"Dr Gunaratna will discuss his findings and the terrorist threat in this region and the invited guests will be able to question him and get more information and also dispute his findings," he added.
Mohamed Jawhar said Gunaratna's book describes his views on Al-Qaeda and how its global, regional and Southeast Asian networks operated.
On the Al-Qaeda threat in Southeast Asia, Gunaratna had mentioned the MILF which was said to have links with several individuals from political parties in Malaysia, he said.
"Dr Gunaratna also says that apart from the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) and the Militant Group of Malaysia (KMM), there are also ideological and political links with the MILF. Here he mentions parties in the Barisan Nasional and other political parties as well as non-governmental organisations in Malaysia."
He said the sources for his information included the Directorate for Intelligence of the Philippines National Police and others.
Mohamed Jawhar said what had become an issue and a concern to the BN and the Government of Malaysia was the annexe forwarded by a UN Select Committee to the UN Security Council.
The annexe called "Al-Qaeda: Southeast Asian Front", had a chart of the Al-Qaeda network which was said to have links with the MILF which in turn had ideological and political links with several organisations in Malaysia including the Barisan Nasional.
The annexe stated that the chart was with courtesy from the book "Inside Al-Qaeda: Global Network of Terror" written by Dr Rohan Gunaratna.
"This may be the reason why Malaysia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Tan Sri Hasmy Agam wrote a letter objecting to the report and the annexe in particular and why the BN and the Malaysian Government made an issue of it."
Mohamed Jawhar said the chart was not contained in Dr Gunaratna's book.
"As far as we know, the book is published in Malaysia by one entity and by another entity in the United States. The one published in Malaysia does not have the chart and probably the one in the US also does not have the chart."
"Hence the chart was probably drawn up by the UN Security Council committee itself and then linked it to the book. The chart does not provide an accurate picture and this is the issue," he said.