Ibrahim Ali, expelled-from-UMNO former party strongman (what a description), has now provided his version of what occurred at Kota Baru airport during that fateful morning, when a nation was shocked by a former PM being attacked with mace.
The attack was so shocking that, apart from PM AAB and Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang’s condemnation of the incident, many of Dr Mahathir’s former foes came running out to jump on the moral bandwagon.
Arch foe Anwar Ibrahim said that while he might not agree with Dr Mahathir’s ways, such an incident should not happen as the country had laws that must be followed.
Then AAB’s son-in-law and allegedly Mahathir’s principal target for the time being, Khairy Jamaluddin said UMNO Youth could not accept what had happened to Dr Mahathir despite learning about ‘certain reasons’ that had led to the incident.
What 'certain reasons'?
Khairy layered his comments with some honey: “He is a great leader and should be respected. And it is not only because he is a leader. Even ordinary people must not be attacked in that manner.”
Besides the usual UMNO who-and-whom, the sokong-mob who would object, threaten, support and cheer like chorus girls to what the UMNO leader would be doing, Kelantan’s Mentri Besar (Chief Minister) from the Opposition party PAS, Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, who once likened Dr Mahathir to the great Syaitan said the mace attack had done injustice to Islam, as it had occurred during a period where Muslims should abstain from sin and on holy Friday.
He even praised Mahathir’s record, by stating: “Who would want to attack an 81-year-old man who has a record of serving the country with distinction?”
Ibrahim Ali claimed that Friday’s spray attack was aimed at preventing former premier Dr Mahathir from addressing the crowd at the airport. He dismissed police claims that he (Ibrahim Ali) was the target of the attack.
He said if the assailant had intended to attack him, the person would not have waited until both Mahathir and him entered a waiting four-wheel drive vehicle. That’s why he concluded that the spray attack was aimed at stopping Mahathir from thanking the crowd for his reception through the sunroof of the vehicle.
Recalling the incident, Ibrahim said that suddenly several hands were stuck through the vehicle’s window and that's when he heard the sound of aerosol can spraying.
Because of the attack, Mahathir dropped the loud-hailer on Ibrahim, ouch, who was by then suffering from severe chest pains, followed by coughing and eye irritation.
He said he was semi-conscious when dragged out of the four-wheel drive: “I thought I was having a heart attack.”
He wasn’t aware that Mahathir was dragged away immediately after the attack in a black car allegedly arranged by former Kuala Krai Umno leader Nik Sapeia Nik Yusoff.
Ibrahim also revealed that a powerful ‘third-party’ had hired seven soldiers to act as Mahathir’s bodyguards during his visit to Kelantan. The New Straits Times reported that acting Eighth Brigade commander Lt Kol Norizan Ahmad confirmed the seven soldiers had been placed under camp detention pending investigation.
Ibrahimsaid: “They were big sized [...] wearing black jackets. I thought they were officers from the police department, but I couldn’t be bothered (then).”
Those men descended from several black cars parked right next to his convoy of vehicles meant to take Mahathir to a hotel from the Sultan Ismail Petra airport
According to Kelantan police chief Zulkifli Abdullah, the seven were questioned by the police and it was confirmed that they were hired for the event.