Former Pulo separatist leader returns to family

Ismail-TernangPATTANI: Former Pattani United Liberation Organisation (Pulo) senior leader Ismail Ternang has returned to his family here after being released by the police on July 13.

The man, in his 60s, was detained at his family-owned restaurant in Perak on June 18 to assist in a probe into the smuggling of firearms.

Ismail said he was treated well by Malaysian authorities throughout his 26-day detention, and was allowed to receive visits from his family and fulfil his religious obligations.

“The police came to my premises about 2pm that day as (they) suspected I was involved in firearms smuggling. However, they did not find anything after two hours of searching,” he told Bernama at his house here recently.

Ismail said although no weapons were found, he was still detained by police and taken to Baling, Kedah.

In 1997, the former Pulo leader was sentenced to life imprisonment by Thai authorities but was released in 2015 after receiving a royal pardon from the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

After his release, Ismail assisted the Thai government by engaging in activities to improve the livelihood of Muslims in southern Thailand.

According to him, he was interrogated by Malaysian police over a man who was shot dead for suspicion of involvement in arms smuggling at the Malaysia-Thai border recently.

Ismail was initially detained for 18 days in Baling before he was handed over to Selangor police to facilitate investigations into the case of a missing pastor.