Articles, Opinions & Views: Bayan Lepas incident a case of terrorism, make no mistake - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy

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the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

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Which must always come to pass

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Just as bright as his brass

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How shall I deal with you?

Have you always turned the other cheek?

To My Church have you been true?"

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Because those of us who carry guns

Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around

Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here,

Lord, It needn't be so grand,

I never expected or had too much,

But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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Bayan Lepas incident a case of terrorism, make no mistake - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, September 28, 2019
The place of the attack and killing
Malaysiakini : “Thoughts and ideas cannot be criminalised but when they are used to groom and entice aggression to where beliefs turn into bullets, then labels become of utmost importance.”― Aysha Taryam
COMMENT | I want to make this very clear. The man killed in Bayan Lepas by police was a terrorist. He may have been mentally disturbed. He may have suffered from depression. This should not detract from the fact that he committed acts of murder and violence in furtherance of whatever radical agenda he discovered online. I get that some Malaysians take comfort in the possibility that he was mentally disturbed or depressed, but the reality is that "something dark this way comes".
You could refer to him as a “lone wolf” terrorist - the Rand Corporation refers to them as flaming bananas - but what we should not do is attempt to downplay his actions and normalise these sorts of acts because Southeast Asia has become the new theatre of operations for radical Islamic groups from the Middle East.

I have written about this extensively because I consider extremism - more than kleptocracy - as the existential threat facing this country. As usual, because of the racial and religious polemics of this country, we have become used to two disturbing narratives that cloud the issue.
The first narrative is to ignore or downplay the event in hopes of not creating an issue when it comes to religious extremism. This means that the state security apparatus and political operatives downplay the incident so as to not worry the rakyat. What we have here is an individual who was radicalised (for whatever reasons) by what he saw online and the powers-that-be attempt to reassure the public that all is copacetic when it comes to the racial and religious political terrain in this country.
The second narrative is the one promulgated by the likes of Puteri Umno, for example. This is to latch on to the incident as a means to galvanise support amongst the Malay/Muslim base. The allegation that this act was done in the service of protecting the sanctity of religion is the go-to strategy of extremists groups (here and abroad) when it comes to securing support.
Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay
Indeed as reported in the Straits Times: “Malaysia has arrested 16 people on suspicion of terrorism, including a person said to have been plotting attacks on unnamed politicians and non-Muslims.
"The 16 suspects - 12 Indonesians, three Malaysians and one Indian - were nabbed between July 10 and Sept 25 in Sabah, Selangor, Sarawak, Penang, Pahang, Kuala Lumpur and Johor.
"One of the Malaysian suspects had planned to stage attacks in the country following 'negative comments' allegedly about Islam and insulting to the Malays, said Counter-terrorism Division chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay."
According to the inspector-general of police (IGP), clips of the “Middle East” on social media influenced the suspect. In other words, he was radicalised by online material and carried out murderous acts he believed would further whatever cause he subscribed to. The IGP said that these clips on social media had nothing to do with Malaysia.
I beg to differ. This has everything to do with Malaysia. The way how political elites promote and propagandise events in the Middle East as a means to rally support among the Muslim base helps further the narratives of victimhood and oppression. The political and religious rhetoric of state actors further calcifies religious dogma in our public institutions and radicalises a segment of the population into believing that theocratic impulses trump democratic norms.
But it goes further than that. Two years ago, I wrote a piece arguing that the cultural and political ethos of this country is conducive to the kind of Islamic state religious dogma that finds an audience with disenfranchised youths looking to change the political paradigm through religious violence. In it, I referenced a piece by Shmuel Bar of the Brookings Institute which bears repeating:
“Facing the radical weltanschauung, the moderate but orthodox Muslim has to grapple with two main dilemmas: the difficulty of refuting the legal-religious arguments of the radical interpretation and the aversion to - or even prohibition of - inciting an Islamic kulturkampf which would split the ranks of the ummah.”
The late Kassim Ahmad
In other words, besides attempts to downplay incidents like these, the state through its religious bureaucracy continues to demonise “moderate” Muslim voices (like Sisters in Islam, for instance, or individuals like the late Kassim Ahmad) thereby creating a toxic atmosphere. In an atmosphere like this, worse impulses of religious dogma are explored and validated while the country gets lost in the endless new cycle of corruption cases and race-baiting.
Observe the false narrative on terrorism as propagated by Umno. In Umno Online, Umno Youth exco member Najmil Faiz Mohamed Ari claimed that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was a threat to national security. He claimed that the LTTE had a base of operations here and that it included sympathisers like (Human Resources Minister) M Kulasegeran. He urged the authorities to “investigate”.
If Najmil is so worried about the LTTE, which has been branded a terrorist organisation by Western bodies, why not worry about the Islamic groups which have been branded the same by those same sources he quotes?
Or why not worry about the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) in which PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang has a prominent role and which Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain have called a terror group. From their public statement: “The two listed entities are terrorist organisations working to promote terrorism through the exploitation of Islamic discourse and its use as a cover to facilitate various terrorist activities.” Is this a threat to national security?
Nurul Amal Mohd Fauzi
Meanwhile, Puteri Umno vice-chief Nuril Amal Mohd Fauzi in praising the Bayan Lepas “martyr” because of his acts in retaliating against “insult to the Prophet” is merely another strand in the narrative of the way how the political apparatus in this country gives legitimacy to acts of extremism while denouncing non-Muslim terror groups as a threat to national security.
But why even think this is out of the ordinary? Read Malaysiakini’s interview with the ex-ISA detainee and bombmaker Yazid Sufaat. Or consider the views of the then home affairs minister Hishammuddin Hussein who lamented the death of terrorist Nordin Mat Top whom he believed could have been rehabilitated. Or our history of reclaiming the bodies of extremists who fought in the Philippines and now, allowing Islamic State fighters to return to this country.
Or the narratives that Islam is under threat. Or the numerous pressure groups which claim that liberalism is a threat to Islam. Or mainstream political groups that want to impose syariah law on non-Muslims. Or the fact that the state has been implicated in the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh and activist Amri Che Mat?
How does it go again? The first step in solving a problem is recognising there is one.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 11:27 AM  
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