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SAUK, Malaysia - Anti-terrorist commandos on Thursday raided the jungle camp of a heavily armed Islamic cult, capturing 27 men and ending a bizarre and violent episode that was one of Malaysia's worst security threats in decades.
(...) Two hostages held by the group, an undercover police officer and a soldier, were killed by their captors well before the raid, the police said.
(...) The standoff also brought to light details of the previously unknown Islamic cult, Al Ma'unah, or Brotherhood of Inner Power, that the police say has several hundred members in Malaysia. The group's Web site, al_maunah.tripod.com, speaks of seeking spiritual enlightenment through martial arts and claims membership of 1,000 people. ''Jihad is our way! Islam will be victorious!'' says the Web site, which also includes photos of believers putting their hands in cauldrons of hot oil, having logs rolled over their chests and coming into contact with a flaming torch. The police began a nationwide crackdown of the cult Thursday. Fifteen members of the group were arrested and the country's chief of police, Norian Mai, said more arrests would follow. ''No religion says you should kill or kidnap,'' Mr. Najib said. ''This is the face of Islam we don't want to portray.'' About 60 percent of Malaysia's 22 million people are Muslim. Mr. Najib said that security forces had captured the mastermind of the armed group, Amin Mohammed Razali, a former army private in his 30s, who was described as mentally ''unstable'' by Mr. Norian. Mr. Amin is called a master of ''inner power'' on the Al Ma'unah Web site, capable of making enemies ''drop to their knees or fall down with the blink of an eye.''
Commandos Raid Camp of Islamic Cult In Malaysia, International Herald Tribune, July 7, 2000
On its website (http://al-maunah.tripod.com [Offline as of July 11, 2000]), the group describes itself as a non-governmental organization ''involved in the teaching of martial arts, particularly the development of one's inner power and the practice of Islamic traditional medicine.''
Al-Ma'unah currently has more than 1,000 members in Malaysia and overseas in Brunei, Singapore, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, it said.
The group said followers can make enemies hurl backward without touching them, are ''invincible from'' weapons, fire or sharp objects and can tie enemies without using rope.
Shadowy gunmen holding hostage in Malaysia give up, AOL/Reuters, July 6, 2000
Images on the Web site show group members practicing rituals that include being burned by fire, scalded by boiling oil and having tree trunks hurled on their chests.
The site says that proponents of the Al-Ma'unah adhere to the teachings of the Koran and a Muslim cleric named Amin Razali who, it claims, received enlightenment after spending five years studying paranormal sciences in a hut in Indonesia.
Malaysia Cult Leader Arrested, AOL/AP, July 7, 2000
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Al-Ma'unah Malaysia Official site [Offline as of July 11, 2000. The site had been marked copyright 1998. A LinkExchange counter read 23812 when the page was visited on July 9, 2000]
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