The defunct Al-Arqam movement is back, with more followers and larger funding

New Straits Times, Singapore/November 1, 2012

Kuala Lumpur - The movement, decreed as deviant by the National Fatwa Council but later rebranded as a registered company, today owns multimillion ringgit businesses in more than 10 countries, sources in intelligence agencies said.

The sources added that the movement had grown stronger than the time it was banned in 1994.

"The authorities who monitored its offshoot leaders since 1994 found that they were continuing its activities and were trying to revive the group via the company despite the ban.

"It has thousands of members today and the number keeps increasing," said a source.

"Although the movement no longer poses a threat to national security, its misleading beliefs can split the Muslims in the country."

Another source said movement members believed that their late leader, Ashaari Muhammad, would return as Imam Mahdi to save the world.

"We also found that his widow, Khatijah Am, has been running the group from Mecca where she now resides. We have evidence of her claiming that she had been in constant contact with Ashaari."

Ashaari, called Abuya by his supporters, died at the age of 73 on May 13, 2010.

A source also said Khatijah had ordered members who received the government's RM500(S$200) 1Malaysia People's Aid to contribute to the company.

The New Straits Times witnessed a concert held to celebrate Ashaari's 75th birthday at the company's head office in Bandar Country Homes, Rawang, on Tuesday.

More than 2,000 people, believed to be Ashaari's followers, turned up at the event, themed "Abuya continues leading from the other world". (Abuya terus memimpin walaupun ghaib.)

One of the company's top executives who gave a speech during the event claimed that Ashaari was the father of all Muslims and that "his soul (roh) would regroup with Prophet Muhammad and Imam Mahdi to bring Islam to victory".

The executive also said the armed forces had given a signal that they would stage a coup to turn Malaysia into an Islamic country.

"This is in line with Ashaari's theory that Malaysia would become an Islamic country, led by non-political entities," he said to applause from the floor.

Armed Forces chief General Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, when contacted, rubbished the claim.

"This is a blatant lie and and I urge Malaysians not to believe it. It is made to make people lose confidence in the armed forces.

"The armed forces are behind the government and our loyalty is always with the king and the people."

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