The nickname ‘Silent Killers’ was given to the Senoi Praaq General Operations Force (PGA) by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for their agility, courage, supreme jungle skills, and fearlessness in facing the enemy.
Sergeant Baharuddin Ramli, 54, who was killed and his colleague Sergeant Norihan a / l Tari, 39, who was seriously injured in a shootout with a group of smugglers, about 600 meters from the TS9 control post in Padang Besar, Perlis on Tuesday, were members of the PGA Battalion 3 based in Bidor, Perak.
PGA Battalion 3 commander, Supt Rosman Kasman told Bernama it all started when the Senoi Praaq, which means ‘War People’, was assigned to Southern Thailand in 1960 to persuade more than 3,000 Orang Asli living there to hunt down communist leader Soo Ah Chye.
He said the Department of Orang Asli Affairs (JHEOA) director Lt. Col. R.O.D. Noone, the founder of the Senoi Praaq, along with a group of Senoi Praaq members were sent to Pleiku, Vietnam in 1964 at the request of the country’s leaders at that time to train the indigenous groups there.
They were asked to train them on ways to oppose the communists in a ‘heart and mind’ manner as had been successfully carried out in this country while fighting the communists during the emergency.
“They are responsible for forming the Montagnard Scouts team under the CIA-led MSP (Mountain Scout Programme) in co-operation with BRIAM (British Advisory Mission).
“That’s where they got the title ‘The Silent Killers’ by the CIA and they were also used secretly in carrying out covert missions in Laos,“ Rosman said.
After 11 months of carrying out the secret missions, the Senoi Praaq team returned home and fought the enemy on the way home.
“Many members of Senoi Praaq were also killed on the way back and the incident was immortalised in a book entitled Death Waits in the Dark: the Senoi Praaq, Malaysia’s Killer Elite,“ he said.
Recalling the history of the establishment of the elite unit in May 1956 by Noone, it was made at the instructions of the British authorities based on the need to have an Orang Asli group to operate in the deep jungle to win the hearts of the Orang Asli who were believed to have been influenced by communist propaganda at the time.
Besides that, he said, in 1957, the British Army 22 Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) had conferred recognition to the Senoi Praaq unit via the wearing of the ‘Red Beret’ at its outstanding success in every operation to eradicate the communists.
Since the establishment of the Senoi Praaq unit, he said various successes were recorded and they were involved in numerous operations including Op Bamboo which was the oldest operation carried out by the national security forces.
It was launched in October 1959 in Perak and ended on December 2 1989, after a peace agreement was signed.
“As we know, Op Bamboo’s assignment was to curb the movement and destroy the threat of the country’s number one enemy at the time, the communists.
‘’This was where Senoi Praaq’s expertise was needed to help track down the communists in the thick jungle,“ he said.
Although the communist threat had ended, the services of the Senoi Praaq were always needed in maintaining the security and sovereignty of the country at its borders as well as participating in missions to find and rescue missing people in the jungle.
“Among them, a Senoi Praaq team was involved in a search mission for an Irish-French teenager, Nora Anne Quoirin who went missing in Negeri Sembilan in August last year. They are also roped in to track down poachers who damaged the flora and fauna in October last year,“ he said.