Elusive cult leader Ayah Pin in south Thailand
Ariffin Mohamad, 68, also known as Ayah Pin sneaked into Terengganu recently and was about to be picked up by the police who were, however, told by the state Religious Department to back off.
At the height of his popularity, the self-styled Prophet had four wives and had a following of 21 followers, including a police inspector and a drummer of a rock group, all whom were arrested and are now on trial.
Known for his giant structures of a teapot, vase, umbrella, concrete boat and a “palace” at his commune, he had claimed God was human and his deviant teachings included not making Friday prayers compulsory.
“We received information that Ayah Pin, who is still at large, was living in the south of Thailand.
“Recently, he had returned (to Malaysia) but we were told (by the Terrenganu Religious Department) not to act yet (arresting him),” Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said.
When pressed by reporters when exactly he was last seen, the IGP reiterated ‘recently’ and did not elaborate.
Musa was speaking at a seminar on ‘Strenghtening the Administration of Justice in the Syariah Court” organised at Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia on Thursday.
He brought up the subject while speaking on the topic of overlapping jurisdiction of state religious departments and Syariah courts with the police on cases involving Muslims.
“In the Ayah Pin case, it was the Syariah courts that first monitored the group before the police assisted them in gathering information.
“We passed our information to the (state) religious department but they were slow to act and by the time we received the green light from them to detain him, he had run away,” Musa said.
He said it was time for the police and the Syariah court and state religious departments to streamline their rules and jurisdictions to stop this sort of problems from ever occurring in the future.
Ayah Pin, in his sermons, claimed the Sky Kingdom had given him the power and right to unite people of the “whole world” irrespective of their religion.
Ayah Pin was declared an apostate for leaving Islam and spent 11 months in jail in 2001 for his activities.
A month after religious department officials and police raided his commune on July 18 2005, mobs donning ski masks, skullcaps, white flowing robes as well as all-black attire went on a rampage destroying the structures and setting fire to five vehicles at the commune.
Meanwhile, in Kuala Terengganu, State Religious Affairs’ and Information committee deputy chairman Muhamad Ramli Nuh said the religious department felt that Ayah Pin or Ariffin Mohamad could go free as he was no more an influential person as his teaching had been quenched.