Friday, May 7, 2010

Bashir Links to Aceh Terror Group Emerge

Tightening the net on wanted members of an armed group in Aceh, the National Police have revealed that they arrested 12 suspects late on Thursday — and seven were members of a group headed by hard-line Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.

Police said on Friday that the building in Jataipadang, South Jakarta, that the seven were seized in was a base for Jemaah Anshorut Tawhid (JAT), founded by Bashir.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Edward Aritonang added that of the other arrests, three were in Setu, Bekasi, east of Jakarta, and two in Central Jakarta.

He said the suspects were believed to have had roles including providing logistical support and financing to the armed group that clashed with security forces at their military training ground in rural Aceh in February.

“So they are not involved directly,” Edward said, adding that their names had come up during the questioning of captured members of the Aceh armed group. He declined to say whether JAT or Bashir were linked to the Aceh group, or to identify those arrested.

But a police source told the Jakarta Globe that police had been hunting for Mustafa, alias Abu Tholut, whom they believed acted as a bridge between Bashir and the Aceh terror group.

Tholut is a former regional commander of terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah, of which Bashir is believed to be the spiritual leader. He was also a military trainer at the Hudaibiyah camp in Mindanao, southern Philippines.

Bashir, in an exclusive interview with the Globe on Friday at the JAT headquarters near his Al Mukmin Islamic boarding school in Ngruki, Central Java, said he shared “an emotional closeness” with Tholut, whom he said he met while in prison in Jakarta. Tholut, he said, had also taught at the school, on the science of war.

Bashir founded JAT in2008 after resigning from the Indonesian Mujahideen Council, an umbrella group pushing for Shariah law in Indonesia. The cleric denied he had anything to do with the group in Aceh.

JAT administrator Abdurrahman said Tholut was a “non-active” JAT member.

Bashir condemned the arrests, which he said were made without warrants, and the sealing of the building. “We give the police 48 hours to release the arrested people and unseal the office so we can go about our business as usual,” Bashir said in a press release.

He said he only knew five of the seven men seized at the JAT premises and believed the others were guests. “We do not know for what reason the police did this rash action, let alone accusing us of dealing with terrorist networks.”

Bashir later told the Globe: “The real target is actually me.” He claimed the United States and its allies had ordered the Indonesian government “not to let me live peacefully in the community.”

He identified the five JAT members as Andriansyah,Yanto Fadhilah, Agus, Sholeh and Mahali. Jakarta Globe

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