Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Malaysian detained by US troops at border

BY K. KASTURI DEWI

PENANG: One of the three Malaysian students who refused to leave Baghdad during the Iraq War has been detained by US troops as he was crossing the Syria border to return to Malaysia.
Saddam University student Mohd Abdullah Osman, 35, is believed to have been arrested by US troops together with 42 other people nearly four weeks ago.
His mother Faridah Abdullah, 56, said her son’s Iraqi friend Qaisar-H-Younis, who arrived here on Sunday, informed the family of Mohd Abdullah’s arrest.
Mohd Abdullah Osman of Saddam University

She said Qaisar, a businessman, told her that he was with Mohd Abdullah and another Malaysian student, Mohd Manan Bajuri, when Mohd Abdullah was arrested.
“However, we were puzzled to find out that my son’s baggage and the things he had bought to bring back for the family were sent back to his house in Baghdad,” she said.
Faridah said Qaisar had approached the Malaysian Embassy in Damascus, Syria, to seek help free Mohd Abdullah. The embassy, in a letter handed to Qaisar to be brought back to Mohd Abdullah’s family, said it had contacted US troops based in Qatar to secure Mohd Abdullah’s release.
“The embassy also stated in the letter that the US troops had promised to look into the matter and help Mohd Abdullah,” Faridah added.
Faridah, whose family contacted Umno Tanjong information bureau chief Datuk Dr Zainuddin Wazir for help, said she was thankful that many people, such as Qaisar and Dr Zainuddin, had come forward to help her family.
“At the moment, I’m just worried for my son’s safety as I’ve seen on television all those horrible things the prisoners undergo.
“I’m praying very hard for him to be released,” she added.
Faridah and Qaisar boarded a bus yesterday to Kuala Lumpur where they will be meeting Wisma Putra officials to seek further assistance.
Mohd Abdullah, who had been pursuing his Masters in Hadith at the university in Baghdad, had been adamant about staying on in Iraq despite the outbreak of war.
Besides Mohd Abdullah, the two others who had stayed on were Rozainy Ghazali of Terengganu and Mohamad Manan of Selangor.
In an interview with The Star in March, Mohd Abdullah said he declined to leave Iraq not because he was stubborn but because he wanted to complete his course by January.
“We were not given a guarantee by the Malaysian authorities that we could continue our courses at local universities there,” he said.