Chapter 1: The Man Without A Face

the i files

This is from the first section of the I-Files they gave me, covering Anwar’s early life, and it just barely predates my arrival in-country. It is the section with which I have most clearly identified, both because of the coincidence in time, and because the fellow who put together this portion of the dossier left behind a personal journal with his impressions of his time in Malaysia, and of the witnesses he interviewed and documents he gathered. Aside from his almost monomaniacal hatred of the durian – a feeling with which, depending on the durian, I can sympathise – this portion is noteworthy for its personalised feel and recollections.

It is the section that most catches my eye now, in this age of international terrorism. Anwar’s frank admiration for Abul Ala Maududi and Sayyid Qutb – the radicals who founded Jamaat-e- Islami in Pakistan and inspired al Qaeda, respectively – show a face he never showed Westerners when they were looking. Many young Malaysians under the age of 30 today have no idea that Anwar was a sympathiser of such extremists. He embraced men who would call for violent revolution to overthrow the existing social and political order to be replaced with a world of sharia law, who would reject over one thousand years of peaceful Islamic thought and learning as corrupt and decadent.

The man’s identity as given in the file is a cover. I know because I tried to look him up, here and in London, and his name simply does not exist. Who he is, where he went, or even whether he knew that the firm for which he worked was a Box 850 front, or what we used to call a “cut-out,” is apparently lost to the mists of time.

However, the material is all very well documented, and so I present his story – and the first part of Anwar’s.

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