Tun Abdullah knew he was under NSA surveillance

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(NST) – Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi acknowledged there was as surveillance on him by the United States of America’s National Security Agency (NSA) during his tenure as prime minister.

Abdullah, 75, who was Malaysia’s fifth prime minister said it was done despite him not having any direct involvement in an issue which had grabbed US’s leading intelligence agency’s attention.

“I knew this a long time ago and I was informed by certain people.

“This happened when I was asked to recommend certain people for a project overseas from a country which US was suspicious of, so this was how I was dragged into it,” said Abdullah in a working visit with his wife Tun Jeanne Abdullah to the Sekolah Tinggi Islam As Sofa, in Rembau, Negri Sembilan.

When asked which foreign country, Abdullah said it was “two Arab countries”.

He also nodded his head when asked if the monitoring was done during his tenure as prime minister, Abdullah’s term was between Oct 31, 2003 and April 3, 2009.

Abdullah also revealed there was another Malaysian who was also monitored by the NSA like him.

“This person had sent something from Kuala Lumpur, selling an item which is not liked (by the US),” said Abdullah who however did not divulge more details on it.

Although not directly condemning the act, Abdullah said he should have not been put under surveillance based on baseless allegation.

“But I am not worried of it, if they (US) wants to controls it then go ahead,” said Abdullah who added that there is nothing much that a person can do if US wants to put a surveillance on them.

Abdullah who is also Sofa Foundation’s honorary adviser said more “sekolah pondok” or religious school in the country should how the foundation run Sekolah Tinggi Islam As Sofa by using modern facilities and updated syllabus to teach Islamic studies to high school students.

Last Saturday, local media reported that German’s news magazine Der Spiegel has disclosed secret documents dated 2009 that showed Abdullah’s name listed among leaders reportedly targeted by NSA for surveillance.

The report, however, did not give any further details on the surveillance of the former Malaysian premier.

More than one hundred names of foreign leaders figure are in the list.

Only 11 names are shown on the document, with Abdullah Badawi’s heading the list. The list is in alphabetical order by first name – but it indicates that the full list contains 122 names, Der Spiegel said.

Other names on the list include Belarus’s current president Alexander Lukashenko and former Columbia’s president Alvaro Uribe.