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Malaysia has identified 44 Muslim-based ''deviationist'' cults in the country, including the shadowy Al-Ma'unah whose members were linked to a daring arms heist this week, media reports said on Saturday.
The New Straits Times reported the Islamic Development Department as saying Al-Ma'unah, which pulled off the heist to cause one of Malaysia's most serious security threats in years, was among 44 groups in the country whose Muslim teachings deviated.
''Of the total, 17 deviationist groups claimed to possess mystical powers and invincibility by reciting Koranic verses for specific purposes as well as to enhance the status of their spiritual leaders,'' the newspaper said.
The reports gave no further details on the cults or how many followers they had.
The official Bernama news agency on Saturday quoted Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi urging followers of deviationist teachings to stop their activities.
''We do not want them to continue to be misled and probably get involved in violent and extreme activities,'' he said in the royal capital of Kuala Kangsar in Perak. ''The government is waiting for a full report on the activities of such groups.''
Mr Abdullah said the government would continue to monitor the cult activities and take appropriate action to ensure national security, peace and stability.
Authorities sound 'deviationist' alarm, South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), July 8, 2000
» Al Ma'unah (Brotherhood of Inner Power)
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