Monday October 29, 2012
College students turn jihadists
Stories by M. KUMAR, MARTIN CARVALHO, YEE XIANG YUN and JOSEPH KAOS JR
KUALA LUMPUR: They were students of a college in the oil palm plantation town of Trolak in Perak. They became friends.
Sometime last year, senior student Mohammed Razin Shaaban, 28, recruited 21-year-old Rafik Mohammed Aaref for a jihad mission.
Razin, who is believed to have links with a top Yemeni al-Qaeda leader, Jamal al-Badawi, and Rafik were arrested in Lebanon as suspected sucide bombers last week.
They were detained by the Lebanese army intelligence on charges of being al-Qaeda members.
Malaysian police sources said they had been tracking their movements since the beginning of this year.
They said that Razin came into contact with terrorists networks while studying in Pakistan in 2007.
“He was arrested in Yemen in 2010 for suspected terrorist activities.
“However he was released due to lack of evidence and he returned to Malaysia,” said a source.
The source said the two had initially set Syria as the target for their terrorist acts but were unable to gain entry into the country.
“That is why they went to Lebanon instead but their target was still Syria,” said the source, adding that the Malaysian authorities had tipped off their Lebanese counterparts on the movements of the two.
Police here are still gathering information to determine if any terrorist cell existed in Malaysia linked to two suspects.
“We are still in the process of gathering information and don't want to give too much away as this involves national security,” said the source.
According to the Lebanese al-Joumhouria newspaper, Razin and Rafik were arrested in a hotel in Beirut's Hamra neighbourhood and referred to the military tribunal.
The Lebanese security investigations revealed that another Malaysian called Mustapha Mansour had recruited one of them in Malaysia in 2007.
Both then went to Yemen.
The newspaper quoted sources as saying that Razin was arrested in 2007 and sentenced to jail where he met Jamal who is accused of the 2000 bombing of US Navy destroyer USS Cole in Yemen.
It added that about two months ago, the suspects tried to enter Syria through Turkey in order to carry out suicide attacks.
Their planned attacks were coordinated with a man identified as “Abou Hassan”, who is responsible for the entry of all jihadists to Syria, said the daily.
When Razin and Rafik failed to enter Syria, they decided to head to Lebanon and were planning to contact an individual in Lebanon to coordinate the attacks, it added.
Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star told The Star that the pair had apparently been monitored by the Lebanese army intelligence since arriving at Beirut Airport.
The pair are being held in a military prison and will reappear before the military tribunal today.
It is learnt that Razin's family left for Lebanon yesterday after hearing about his arrest.