JAKARTA, Feb. 10 (IslamOnline) – Brunei authorities have decided to cut escape routes for alleged deviationist cults and extremists on the run from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, news reports coming from Bandar Seri Bagwan said on Sunday.
The tiny Muslim sultanate has a strict record of intolerance towards deviationist Muslim groups and welcomes the move by its neighbors to handle terrorism and other extremist groups.
Singapore and Malaysia have made a series of arrests in recent weeks targeting militants with alleged links to terrorist organizations such as the Al-Qaeda of Osama bin Laden.
In a new development Saturday, Malaysia decided to banish the former leader of an outlawed Muslim sect to the financial center Labuan, which is one of the closest Malaysian islands to Brunei.
The move was meant to separate Asaari Muhammad, the leader of the Al-Arqam group from those who favor the revival of the once thriving movement which was banned in 1994 for spreading unorthodox religious teachings.
Asaari was ordered by Malaysian Home Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to be confined at Labuan commencing February 5, a report in Utusan Malaysia said.
Asaari was arrested under the infamous Internal Security Act (ISA) in the mid 1990s, accused of propagating deviant Muslim ideas that corrupt the minds of his followers.
Thousands of Malaysian and Thai Muslims were followers of Asaari’s movement. The Al-Arqam was a powerful Muslim movement, generating a few hundred million dollars every year.
The transfer of Asaari, released from the ISA after one year in solitary confinement, to Labuan follows his recent detention under the restricted residence ordinance.
All over Malaysia, former members of the once powerful organization were now limited to conducting business, but the police are watching their activities closely.
Al-Arqam thrived in predominantly rural areas of Malaysia prior to the detention of Asaari and his other 15 top members nine years ago. All of them were released after they appeared on national television and claimed to have renounced the sect’s teachings. However, Asaari was placed under house arrest.
The movement reportedly owned supermarkets, factories and other businesses and claimed to have 100,000 members during its glory days. The movement was also influential in Brunei where they conducted business and had a substantial number of followers.