Student says books on militancy bought from Masjid India

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KUALA LUMPUR: Student Siti Noor Aishah Atam, who is on trial for alleged involvement in terrorist ideology, today acknowledged she had purchased and owned 12 books that supported militant dogmatic movements like the al-Qaeda.

However, she said that she had neither the time to read the publications nor could remember where she had bought all the copies.

“I did not get a chance to read the books but I glanced through them for anything relevant to the topic of my study,” she said during a hearing at the High Court here.

She noted that some of the books she purchased at Jalan Masjid India in Kuala Lumpur were marked as being imported and distributed by Fajar Ilmu Baru Enterprise.

Aishah, who was represented by Mohd Kamaruzaman Abd Wahabber, said her main purpose of buying and keeping the books was to help in her master’s degree studies on Islamic faith and thought, at Universiti Malaya from 2012 to 2013.

She also said she did not know that her thesis supervisor, Dr Mahmud Ahmad, was involved in militant activity.

Also known as Abu Hanzalah, he is believed to have escaped to the Philippines in 2014 and is among several individuals sought by police for alleged connections with the militant group called Islamic State (IS).

She said she had taken several books from Mahmud and made copies of them for her thesis research as this was a better alternative to repeatedly borrowing them from him.

“I never knew that these books were banned,” she said.

The books that were seized from her by the police reportedly carried titles such as “Visi Politik Gerakan Jihad” (“Political Vision of the Jihad Movement”), “Al-Zarqawi – al-Qaida’s Second Generation”, “Dari Usama Kepada Para Aktivis” (“From Osama to Activists at Large”), “Dari Rahim Ikhwanul Muslimin Ke Pangkuan al-Qaeda” (“From the Womb of the Muslim Brotherhood to the Lap of al-Qaeda”) and “Ketika Maslahat Dipertuhankan dan Menjadi Taghut Model Baru” (“When Natural Benefits are Idolised and Become New Models for Crossing the Limits”).

She also said she had been under duress and had hoped Mahmud would be her supervisor as she also needed his help to appeal to the university for her thesis.

Aishah said she had herself suggested to Mahmud the title of her thesis, which was the “Implication of tauhid (Oneness of God) on the nation’s administration”.

“I met Dr Mahmud to discuss the title and the contents that I was expected to work on. I also asked him to be my supervisor,” she said.

“And then I received news that Dr Mahmud had left for the Philippines and was suspected of being involved in terrorism.

“After that, I opted to return to my kampung because I became anxious due to my close connection to him.”

Aishah was first arrested in March 2015 under section 130J of the Penal Code for allegedly soliciting or giving support to terrorist groups or commissioning of terrorist acts, as well as under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).

She was charged in the Kuala Lumpur High Court and pleaded not guilty to owning the 12 books seized by the police.

In September 2015, the court acquitted and freed her on the basis that there was no prima facie evidence against her.

She was, however, rearrested that same day under the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca) and held for 60 days.

Following this period, she was placed under house arrest with an electronic monitoring device (EMD) attached to her. She was also prohibited from leaving her home district of Surah in Dungun, Terengganu, without prior approval from the police.

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