Malaysia arrested a businessman allegedly involved in the international nuclear network led by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Associated Press reported Saturday (see GSN, March 2).
Deputy Internal Security Minister Noh Omar said Buhary Syed Abu Tahir, a Sri Lankan citizen with permanent Malaysian residency, was arrested Friday because “he was involved in activities that were illegal at the international level … by involving himself in an illicit international network of nuclear proliferation,” the Associated Press reported.
Noh went on to explain that Tahir used Malaysia as an “illegal base” to organize the manufacture of centrifuge parts for Libya’s now-defunct nuclear weapons program. Tahir also brought Libyan nuclear technicians to Malaysia for training, Noh said.
“These actions undermined Malaysia’s security and economy, it exposed the country to possible threats of attack by the big powers and economic sanctions,” Noh said.
Tahir, who is being held at the Kamunting prison camp, was arrested under a colonial-era law known as the Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial, according to the Associated Press (Rohan Sullivan, Associated Press/HiPakistan, May 29).
Meanwhile, human rights activists in Malaysia questioned whether Tahir was being used as a scapegoat, arguing that authorities should investigate whether “important persons,” such as the prime minister’s son, were involved in nuclear arms sales.
“We question if the detention of Tahir … is an attempt by the government to cover up other important persons in the scandal of nuclear weapons from being exposed,” activist Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh said in a news conference yesterday (Sean Yoong, Associated Press, May 31).