Definitions

Al-Ma'unah

Al-Ma'unah

Al-Ma'unah was an Islamic cult and a militant terrorist group based in Malaysia. The group was made famous by their audacious raid on July 2, 2000 on a Malaysian Army Reserve camp in the early hours of the morning and stealing weapons from the armoury. The group was later cornered in the village of Sauk, Perak and was involved in a stand-off the against the Malaysian Army and Royal Malaysian Police forces.

The Group

The group's full name was Persaudaraan Ilmu Dalam Al-Ma’unah. The group had a website which explained that (Brotherhood of Al-Ma’unah Inner Power) or Al-Ma’unah in short, was an organisation "involved in the teaching of martial arts particularly the development of one’s inner power and the practice of Islamic traditional medicine". The term "Ma’unah" supposedly means something extraordinary that happens to an ordinary Muslim individual (paranormal). The group claimed membership of 1000 ikhwan spread throughout Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Sauk Siege

Mohamed Amin Mohamed Razali led a band of 29 Al-Ma'unah men in a mission to overthrow the Malaysian government. The group, included a serving Major in the Royal Malaysian Airforce. They dressed up in uniforms of senior army officers and claimed to be making a surprise inspection of the Battalion 304 in the Malaysian Army Reserve (Rejimen Askar Wataniah) camp at the Temenggor Dam in Gerik, Perak. The group tricked their way and raided the armouries.

They had previously obtained military fatigues from various outlets and securing three units of Pajero four-wheel-drive vehicles. The Pajero, of similar make to that used by the Malaysian Army was painted green and given false number plate at a house rented in Kati, for the specific use as a transit point for the group.

In the early hours of July 2, 2000, 20 members of the Al-Maunah group got into three Pajero vehicles and proceeded to Post 2 Kuala Rhui Camp at 2.50 a.m. and then to Camp Bn 304 Rejimen Askar Wataniah at 4.15 a.m.

They talked their way into the Camps by feigning a surprise inspection, to conduct emergency spot checks of all the ammunitions stored at both camps. Impressed by the manner in Amin and the others conducted themselves and assured by the presence of the three Pajero vehicles bearing the military registration numbers beginning with the alphabet 'Z', the military personnel at the two army camps were duped into allowing the group to take possession of all but one of the various army weapons, ammunitions and other army equipments including communication equipments and some even helped the group to carry the weapons into the three Pajeros. They took away a huge cache of firearms and ammunition, including 97 M16 assault rifles, two Steyr AUG rifles, four GPMGs, six Light Machineguns, five grenade launchers, 182 M16 magazines, eight extra barrels of GPMGs, three extra barrel of LMGs, 26 bayonets, 9,095 rounds of 5.56mm and 60 rounds of 40mm ammunition.

27 of them hid themselves in the jungle in Bukit Jenalik, Sauk, in Perak. Amin then distributed the seized arms to his members for practice. The unusual sounds of firearms alerted local inhabitants who alerted the Police. The group made preparations for the operation, including collecting food supplies and taking them to their base in Bukit Jenalik. The food dumps were to keep the base going for about three weeks. They had obtained military fatigues from various outlets and securing three units of Pajero four-wheel-drive vehicles. They also collected weapons such as parang (machete) and cross bows for the purpose of their mission.

Police threw a containment cordon of Bukit Jenalik. A number of security personnel were deployed to penetrate the Al-Ma'unah's camp. However, two of the police personnel Sergeant (Sarjan) Mohd Shah Ahmad and Detective Corporal Sanghadevan, as well as civilian Jaafar Puteh and an army personnel, Trooper Matthews anak Medan, were taken hostage by Al-Ma'unah. In a radio communication with the authorities, the group stated their intention to cordon off Kuala Lumpur if their demand for Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to resign in 24 hours was unmet. Jaafar Puteh was a civilian who wandered into their camp while looking for durian fruit.

Mohd Shah Ahmad related during the trial that over the 4 days, the security forces personnel were abused and tortured. They were made to dig trenches along the sides of Bukit Jenalik to serve as a defence in the event of an attack on the camp. At night they were tied to a durian tree. It was that Mohd Shah Ahmad and Sanghadevan buried Trooper Matthews in one of these trenches. Trooper Matthews was apprehended by Jemari Jusoh and when the Amin realized the identity of Trooper Matthews, Amin tortured Matthews by shooting his leg. Amin then ordered the Jemari Jusoh to shoot Trooper Matthews in cold blood.

On the morning of July 5, 2000, a member of Al Ma'unah Abu Bakar Ismail was shot by the security forces. In retaliation, the Amin and his his followers returned fire against the security forces. During this cross fire, Sanghadevan was shot dead. Sanghadevan was buried next to Trooper Matthews by Mohd Shah and Jaafar Puteh.

Surrender

The Al-Ma'unah group later surrendered, and the leaders brought to trial for "waging war upon the King". The Malaysian Government acted against the Al-Ma'unah group only after giving it every chance to surrender and retained public support by giving the Al-Ma'unah members fair trials and re-integrating them into society.

Mohamed Amin Mohamed Razali was the last to surrender. Just before doing so he grabbed the Malaysian Army Corps Commander Lieutenant General Zaini Mohamad Said by his shirt and tried to shoot him at point-blank range. The General flicked the barrel of Amin's assault rifle and the bullet hit one of the militants. Zaini was later awarded the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (S.P.) award for his bravery and contribution in ending the siege without further loss of life.

Lieutenant General Zaini Mohamad Said went up the hill with 43 Commando personnel in four armoured personnel carriers followed by 16 infantrymen after Assistant Superintendent Police Abdul Razak Mohd Yusof and his personnel persuaded Amin and contacted the Zaini. Abdul Razak Mohd Yusof informed Zaini that the Al-Ma'unah's group leader has agreed to surrender. When they reached there, about 15 Al Ma'unah members surrendered the stolen weapons but refused to give up their parangs which they claimed to be inscribed with Quran verses but later relented. Abdul Razak Mohd Yusof was also awarded the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa for his role as the mediator in the incident. Abdul Razak was the officer-in-charge of the Parachute Branch, Pasukan Gerakan Khas, Royal Malaysian Police.

Deaths

Three people were killed before the group finally surrendered. Detective Corporal R. Sanghadevan of the Special Branch was killed, some claimed he was executed, during the siege. The group also killed an Army commando, Trooper Mathew anak Medan, who was shot by Jemari Jusoh. Both were tortured before they were killed. The third person killed was a group member who was shot and killed when he refused to retreat.

Other Attacks

Mohamed Amin Mohamed Razali also sent members to bomb the Anchor and Carlsberg breweries in Petaling Jaya near Kuala Lumpur and the Hindu temple in Batu Caves. Only minor damage was done. Members of the group, Shahidi and Khairul Anuar, later admitted to attacking the Carlsberg brewery on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur with grenade launchers stolen from the army camps.

Trial and Sentence

Mohamed Amin and his group were brought to trial for charges of "waging war against the King", and became the first people convicted of such offence in Malaysia. Amin and his two lieutenants, Zahit Muslim and Jamaluddin Darus, were sentenced to death. Sixteen others were given life sentences. In June 2003, the Federal Court turned down Mohamed Amin's appeal for life imprisonment and confirmed the death sentence on him for waging war against the King.

Megat Mohamed Hanafi Ilias, Muhamad Nukhshah Bandi Che Mansor, Riduan Berahim, Azlan Abdul Ghani, Shahidi Ali and Khairul Anuar Mohamed Ariffin, were sentenced by the High Court to ten years in jail after pleading guilty to treason, a lesser charge. They were originally charged with waging war against the King, an offence that carries the death penalty or life imprisonment. Instead, they accepted a guilty plea in a reduced charge of preparing to wage war against the King, which refers to collecting or attempting to collect men, arms or ammunition with the intention of waging war.

15 Al-Mau'nah detainees were released from the detention of the Internal Security Act (ISA) on November 24, 2003, however the release came with a string of conditions which included restricted residence to a particular district, the need to report to police weekly, and a 9 pm to 6 pm curfew.

Mohamed Amin Mohamed Razali hanged

Mohamed Amin Mohamed Razali, leader of a militant group, was hanged at the Sungai Buloh prison in Selangor on August 4, 2006, as reported by Bernama news agency. Zahit Muslim, Jamaluddin Darus, and Jemari Jusoh were hanged a week earlier.

Impact of Al-Mau'nah

Social impact

Al-Ma'unah is characterized as a sect by the Malaysian authorities and not as a rebel or terrorist group like Jemaah Islamiah. But for all the slickness of the two arms heists, the group's previous actions amounted to taking a few pot-shots at a Hindu temple at Batu Caves, breweries on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, and a power company's electric tower. The Al-Ma'unah case is regarded as an isolated episode in Malaysia.

The leader of the group, Mohamed Amin, sas a former army private but also arrested among the 26 in the Sauk siege included a Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) major, an analyst, an insurance agent, a Malaysia France Institute lecturer and an executive with Proton. "It shows that how religion is used and manipulated is still a real problem in Malaysia," says Kamarulnizam Abdullah, coordinator of the Strategic and Security Studies Unit at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (National University of Malaysia). "The government has to do something." The Malaysian authorities clamped down hard on deviationist activities as a result of the Al Ma'unah tragedy.

Police also tightened laws on the sale of police and military uniforms. Those who wanted to trade and produce police and military uniform and insignia would need a police permit, a condition introduced following the Al-Maunah incident.

Political Impact

Some people believed that the Sauk incident was stage managed by the Government of Malaysia under then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad. This belief was because of the apparent ease that the Al Ma'unah Group talked their way through the army guards into allowing them into the camp and seizing the arms and ammunition.

This ease projected a "shocking laxity in military discipline and security whereby vast cache of high-calibre weaponry could be robbed from two military camps, as it involves an unacceptable degree of military irresponsibility and negligence", according to opposition leader Lim Kit Siang. Kit Siang also questioned the death of the third person, Abdul Halim Ali, one of the gang members.

The Parti Islam Se Malaysia or PAS reiterated their belief through its Secretary-General, Nasharuddin Mat Isa, when refusing to apologise to UMNO for accusing UMNO of stage managing the tragedy.

Lim Kit Siang also questioned the Government's action in using the Internal Security Act to detain the 27 Al-Ma’unah members arrested at Bukit Jenalik on July 6, 2000 after the five-day arms heists and hostage taking and killings instead of charging them for robbery, kidnapping, firearms and murder is a major and multiple blow to the reputation and credibility of the Police, the Attorney-General, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister as its smacks of a "cover-up" operation and will undermine public confidence in the White Paper on the Al-Ma’unah arms heists and atrocities. The Al Ma'unah group was later charged under Section 121 of the Penal Code, conviction under which carries with it two penalties in the alternative, death or life imprisonment, and a third sentence that if the death penalty is not pronounced, a convicted person shall also be liable to a fine.

References

Notes

See also

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