KUALA LUMPUR: A memoir book “Aku Masih Ingat…Memoir Seorang Komander” (I still remember … Memoirs of a Commander) by Brigadier General (Rtd) Datuk Abdul Latif Ahmad related the true story on the rescue mission by 113 members of the Malaysian battalion in Mogadishu, Somalia on Oct 3 and 4, 1993.
Their mission was to save the American rangers who were surrounded by Somali militants in Bakara, an incident which had been made into a Hollywood film, the Black Hawk Down.
Abdul Latif, the then Commander of Malbatt 1 battalion which served under the United Nations (UN) peace-keeping force in Somali, said the film did not at all tell about the participation of Malaysian soldiers in the rescue mission.
“We do not blame the film producers because they want to make profits and to promote their own country, but we feel slighted that the involvement of Malaysian soldiers was totally left out,” he told reporters after the launch of the book here yesterday.
He said the Malbatt Aplha company under Major Abdul Aziz, involving five officers and 42 members from other ranks, was involved in the rescue mission with the teams from Pakistan and the United States of America.
The operation began about 8.30pm on Oct 3, 1993 with the Malaysian soldiers on the second line, behind the tanks of the Pakistani army.
“Halfway, the Pakistani army tanks did not want to proceed with the mission on grounds that they had no night capabilities, forcing us to be on the front line,” he added.
He said the terrifying moment was at 3.08 am on Oct 4, 1993 when they were fired at non-stop for six hours, but the shots did not penetrate into the Malaysia Condor armoured personnel carriers (APC).
“Only one Malaysian tank was hit by a rocket launched by the militants,” he said, adding that the incident killed the driver, Private Mat Aznan Awang and injured six others.
However, he said the incident did not weaken the spirit of the UN team until they were able to rescue the besieged American soldiers.
Abdul Latif said the mission in Somalia was the most memorable war experience ever participated by Malaysian soldiers.
“I hope the experience mentioned in this book can instill the spirit of patriotism among Malaysians, especially the young people,” he added.
The 324-page book also contained Abdul Latif’s experience as a soldier during the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation (1964-1966), May 13, 1969 tragedy, the big flood in Kuala Lumpur in 1971 and the fight against the communist in the 1970s. – Bernama