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Tuesday, January 26

Oh, $681 million from Al Saud was only a personal gift so that's okay

Top prize for Hilarious Report of the Week goes to Reuters for this howler, published today: 
Probe clears Malaysian PM Najib, says $681 million transfer a Saudi gift
Malaysia's attorney-general cleared Prime Minister Najib Razak of any criminal offense or corruption on Tuesday, and said a controversial transfer of $681 million into his personal bank account was a gift from Saudi Arabia's royal family.

The leader of the main opposition party denounced the findings, which came after months of pressure on Najib to resign over the scandal, saying the appointment of the attorney-general by the prime minister himself suggested a conflict of interest.
The involvement of the Saudi royal family is an unexpected twist in the saga over the mysterious funds transfer and the troubles of indebted state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), whose advisory board Najib chairs.
"I am satisfied with the findings that the funds were not a form of graft or bribery," Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali told a hastily called news conference.
Apandi said in a statement that $620 million was returned to the Saudi royal family in August 2013, about five months after the transfer, because it had not been utilized.
"There was no reason given as to why the donation was made to PM Najib, that is between him and the Saudi family," he said.
Amazingly the story gets even funnier as it goes along so I compliment the Reuters reporters, Rozanna Latiff and Emily Chow, for a maintaining a straight face throughout -- although they might not have had much choice as they were reporting from Kuala Lumpur. It won't do to be holding your sides with laughter while interviewing government officials in an emerging economy or for that matter any economy.  

But Malaysia, Malaysia -- why does that name ring a bell?  Oh yes, I was just reading about its problem with, uh, Salafist terrorism. Odd how these problems tend to crop up after a government gets a little too friendly with the Saudi government then decides it doesn't want to be that friendly. Maybe it's just me; maybe I'm reading too much into coincidence, and as we all know Al Saud is a great enemy of Islamic State and for that matter all terrorists.  

Not 6, but 7 terrorist attack plots foiled in Malaysia, say police
Published: 26 January 2016 - 4:25 PM [local time]
The Malaysian Insider

Police [have] so far had foiled seven terrorists attack plots planned by the local members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) in the country, Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division said today. 

"It's not six, but seven. Of the total only one was in the third stage of planning while the rest were still in the initial stage," said the division's principal assistant director senior assistant commissioner Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay. 

In a seminar in Kuantan this morning, Ayob told more than 1,000 Pahang government officials that the latest case, seven people who were nabbed were planning to launch attacks at hotspots in several states in the country.

They were detained between January 22 and 24, including the cell head who worked as an assistant hotel manager in Johor. Ayob said those arrested were committed to their cause and had very strong ideology but lacked knowledge. 

"They wanted to carry out attacks because the Malaysian government is described as 'taghut' (not following proper Islamic teaching) and that who are against them are considered as pro-Shia and that they can be killed." 

The arrests of seven were follow-ups to the arrest of a 28-year-old former insurance agent from Terengganu on January 15 at a train station in Kuala Lumpur. The 28-year-old was detained with a knife and Isis propaganda material. It is understood that he was instructed to carry out an attack by stabbing civilians at [a] famous spot in the city centre. 

After getting information on the plan, the police detained the suspect. The arrest came a day after the deadly attack in Jakarta, Indonesia, which killed 12. 

Star Online reported yesterday that a Malay-speaking wing of Isis had sent a warning to Malaysia for stepping up its campaign against the terror group. In a strongly worded video posted in Bahasa Malaysia, the Malaysian-Indonesian unit of Isis, called the Katibah Nusantara, threatened revenge for the arrests of its members. 

Titled “Mesej Awam Kepada Malaysia” (Public Message for Malaysia), the video warned: “If you catch us, we will only increase in number but if you let us be, we will be closer to our goal of bringing back the rule of the 'Khalifah' (caliph). 

“Those who brand us as 'khawarij' (dissenters), Daesh [a derogatory name for Isis] and even as Mossad agents are in fact, Shia and its allies. We will never bow down to the democratic system of governance as we will only follow Allah’s rules.” 

Following the militant attack in Indonesia on January 14, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar announced that Malaysia’s alert status was at the highest level. Khalid said Malaysia was now on “alert to the highest degree”, as terrorism analysts said Isis was now spreading its operations beyond the Middle East and Europe to Asia. 

Khalid added that after the latest attacks in Jakarta, security measures were increased in public places in Malaysia, such as malls and tourist spots. He also said precautionary action would be implemented at border areas to prevent possible infiltration by terrorists.



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