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ARKIB : 30/05/2004

Tahir detained for being a security threat - Noh

TAIPING May 29 - Sri Lankan businessman Buhary Seyed Abu Tahir, also known as B.S.A Tahir was detained Friday for being a threat to Malaysia's security and economy.

Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Noh Omar on Saturday confirmed Tahir was arrested at about 11.20 am Friday at 45-E Bangsaria Building, Jalan Maarof in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

He said Tahir was now being held in Kamunting Detention Centre near here.

Noh said he signed the order to detain Tahir under Section 8 (1) of the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960 and Section 43(a) of the Federal Constitution.

He said the authorities could not arrest Tahir earlier as they were waiting for the outcome of investigations.

The businessman was held under ISA due to insufficient evidence to charge him in court despite investigations indicating that Tahir was involved in illegitimate international dealings, said Noh.

"Tahir's activities are banned through United Nations (UN) treaties and resolutions as he is involved in a secret international nuclear arms proliferation network, particularly in Libya," he told reporters after visiting the detention centre in Kamunting near here.

Noh said Tahir's activities, since 2001, had risked Malaysia to economic sanctions and attacks by the world superpowers.

He said Tahir had secretly used Malaysia as the base for his operations when he deceived Scomi Precision Engineering Sdn Bhd to produce centrifuge components, purportedly for the gas and petroleum industry in Dubai, which were actually intended for a uranium enrichment programme in Libya.

Noh said Tahir had sent two foreign engineers to Scomi to give expert advice on production of the centrifuge components apart from arranging covert training programmes for Libyan technicians.

He said other countries were also believed to have been used to produce other components for the same programme.

Noh said Tahir would be detained at the centre for two years, like other ISA detainees.

"We do not want because of him ... Malaysia is accused of being linked to certain parties ... we are against nuclear and violence but there are people in Malaysia who are involved".

Asked on whether other individuals would be arrested in connection with the same case, Noh said Tahir was the only suspect and others in Scomi were not aware of Tahir's actual motives.

On the United States' praise for Malaysia's action in arresting Tahir and the possibility of the country's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) questioning him, Noh said Malaysia's action was not made under the United States directive.

Tahir, 44, is a Dubai-based businessman with permanent resident status after he married a Malaysian. He is believed to be the link in supplying the centrifuge components to Libya.

Last Oct 4, Italian authorities seized five containers on board the Germany-registered "BBC China" ship at Taranto port, which contained the centrifuge components.

The components were in wooden crates printed "Scope," a subsidiary of Scomi.

Investigations into Tahir's dealings began last Nov 10 when the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and British M16 informed Malaysian authorities of an international network which transferred nuclear technology to third world nations.

Both agencies also claimed Tahir was the middleman in supplying the centrifuge components needed for a uranium enrichment programme in Libya.

Last Feb 20, the Royal Malaysia Police cleared Scope of any involvement as investigations revealed Tahir had deceived it to produce the components.

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