April 12, 2003

Malaysian journalist threatened
with detention

STAFF Sargeant James Mattwig (C) from the US 3rd Infantry Division gives a briefing to members of the JMTM, 35 km from Baghdad, April 11. - Bernamapix.
AMMAN 11 April - Nine journalists from the Joint Media Team Malaysia (JMTM) arrived safely in Baghdad Friday after going through various obstacles including one where a journalist was threatened and detained by border guards on the Jordanian side when he attempted to cross the Jordan-Iraq border, early Thursday morning.
The journalist, Shamsul Akmar Musa Kamal, had a gun pointed at him by a border guard on the Jordanian side of the border when he tried to walk across the boundary.
About 100 vehicles carrying foreign journalists were stranded at Al-Karamah after they were prevented from going through the border gate, about three hours away by car from the city of Amman.
According to reports by the group of journalists to the JMTM Media Centre here, after negotiations, the border guards shook hands with Shamsul Akmal and hugged him before they were allowed to enter Iraq shortly after.
Normally, the journey would take between nine and 10 hours.
Meanwhile, five other smaller JMTM groups here, comprising a total of 23 journalists, are preparing to leave for Baghdad after all travel documentation by the Jordanian authorities are completed.
Friday is the weekly holiday in Jordan.
While in Iraq, the JMTM media team will also visit several other areas including Basra and the northern region.
Among other things, they will observe the developments from the humanitarian and law enforcement aspects as well as the political future and administration in Iraq.
They will also report on the role of Malaysians in efforts to assist the people of Iraq especially by the Malaysian Medical Relief Society or Mercy Malaysia.
A Mercy spokesman here, Ainuddin Dahlan said a group of six Mercy members had left from the Syria-Iraq border at 7 am Friday and were heading for the Iraq Red Crescent Society headquarters in Al-Mansour, near Baghdad.
They had brought medical supplies and equipment for use in hospitals in Iraq.
Among others, they will distribute the supplies and operate at the Al-Khindi Hospital and Al-Yarmook Hospital in the city of Baghdad.
They had arrived here two weeks ago and had brought cash worth RM130,000 contributed by various groups in Malaysia and had purchased the supplies here to be taken to Iraq.
Last Saturday, another Mercy team had arrived bringing with them 25 boxes comprising mainly medical equipment.
Ainuddin said that two days ago, before they left for Syria, the Mercy team had been contacted by the Iraq Red Crescent Society to bring more medical equipment and as a result had spent another RM200,000 to buy all the goods needed.
The additional supplies are badly needed as the hospitals in Iraq are facing an acute shortage.
However, Ainuddin did not give details of the additional medical equipment needed.
Thursday, the Mercy team had left for Damascus, Syria to enter Iraq via the border gate there as several Iraqi Red Crescent Society members were waiting there to take them into Iraq.