Why is Malaysia even considering bringing home Gitmo detainees Nazir and Farik?

ONE country’s ‘freedom fighter’ is another’s ‘terrorist’. That may indeed be the case but it is still astonishing to read that the unity government is considering bringing home two suspected terrorists.

Incredibly, these two individuals – Mohammed Nazir Lep and Mohd Farik Amin – might even be released into normal society upon their return.

According to Malaysiakini citing Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, Putrajaya has yet to decide on whether the two Malaysians detained over terrorism-related charges in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will be kept under custody upon their repatriation.

Saifuddin who reportedly met the US special representative for Guantanamo affairs Tina Kaidanow during his recent official visit to New York said the government is still in initial discussions to seek their release.

In this regard, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) secretary-general said Putrajaya has yet to decide if the duo would be detained without trial under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA 2012).

Recall that Nazir and Farik were among seven arrested over alleged involvement in the October 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia that killed 202 people as well as the bombing at the JW Marriott Jakarta hotel in August 2003 that killed 12.

Both Malaysian fugitives were reportedly detained in Thailand in 2003 and transferred to the US Central Intelligence Agency-operated black sites before being re-located to Guantanamo Bay in 2006.

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp

Why the eagerness?

At a time when the plight of the stateless individual is being highlighted in the media, it is bewildering that the government is even considering the repatriation of the two suspected terrorists.

When law-abiding individuals born here are denied citizenship and faced with endless bureaucracy, these two alleged criminals get the attention of the Home Minister, no less. What gives?

Alongside hundreds of ‘freedom fighters’ returning from Syria having been quietly assimilated back into the Malaysian society, the fact that these two might actually be allowed back to lead normal lives after their alleged crimes is nothing short of shocking. Some really do not deserve a second chance.

Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail

Imagine a similar scenario where a local Sikh man is arrested on terrorism charges and detained in India fighting for a separate, independent Khalistan state. Would Putrajaya be engaging Delhi in similar talks of repatriation? Would he be assimilated back into the Malaysian society or left to rot in an Indian jail?

The current administration must not use this to pander to the right-wing faction by championing the return of these two ‘freedom fighters’ who are accused of horrific crimes which involved the loss of many innocent lives.

Instead, the unity government should focus on fulfilling the promises of the Madani government which do not include negotiating for the release of terror suspects. – Oct 2, 2023

Main pic credit: Utusan Malaysia

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