Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Free from ISA, but still in shackles

By S Rutra, FMT 

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee Yazid Suffat may be physically free but he still remains in shackles. 

“Mentally, I’m not a free man to do whatever I wish to do with my life like any other ordinary citizen of this country,” he told FMT.

“Even my assets worth more than RM8 million are still frozen and unofficially I am not allowed to travel abroad even if I want to perform my haj,” he added.

Yazid also said he had some reservations regarding the recent announcement by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to repeal the ISA.

“We are still in the dark as to what kind of laws will replace the ISA, but as a Muslim, I always believe that all the laws against the syariah law should be repealed.

“Most ISA detainees are still subjected to various forms of unofficial restrictions and our movements are watched by special branch officers and we are not enjoying total freedom,” he added.

Asked if he had made an attempt to secure a passport, Yazid, who hails from Johor, dismissed it as a waste of time.

“They (the Immigration Department) won’t issue the passport to me or de-freeze my assets as I am convinced that I was punished for my ‘expertise’ and not because of my alleged links to terrorists behind the 9/11 attack,” he said.

‘I was shocked when arrested’

The 47-year-old bio-chemist still maintains that he had no knowledge of the terrorists who allegedly stayed in an apartment owned by him.

He was detained on Dec 9, 2001 after returning from Afghanistan. He was accused of harbouring terrorists Khalid Al-Midhar and Nawaf Al-Hazmi.

Speaking about his arrest, Yazid claimed that some of his friends from Johor and Kelantan had approached him to use the apartment.

“I was shocked when special branch officers arrested me for allegedly harbouring terrorists,” he said, adding that he strongly believes that his arrest was related to his research on biological weapons.

“Probably they were worried that some of the Islamic countries which I frequented might seek my expertise,” added Yazid, who is now a businessman.

Yazid said that since his release three years ago, he is still in the process of rebuilding his life and is focused on his children’s education and helping his wife run her catering business.

Asked if he would take legal action over his detention, he replied: “No amount of money would replace the time and suffering I went through.”

Yazid revealed that his wife was also restricted from leaving Kuala Lumpur during his seven-year detention.

“I also stopped lecturing at an international Islamic school after a parent complained to the school administrator about my background,” he said, visibly upset.

“I love this country very much and until today I strongly believe that I can contribute to this nation and its people for spending substantial amount money in supporting my tertiary education in the US,” he added.

Tasked with ‘special project’

Yazid said that he received a Public Service Department (PSD) scholarship after emerging as one of the top students in the Royal Military College (RMC) in 1982.

He graduated from the California State University in 1987 and upon his return, was attached to the Ministry of Defence with the rank of captain.

Yazid said that he was tasked with a “special project” to research biological weapons, but the project was scraped within three years and no reason was given for this.


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