Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Abu Bakar Bashir Linked to New Terror Group

The National Police on Wednesday accused radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who was arrested in August for terrorism offenses in Aceh, of also having direct links to terrorist activities in North Sumatra.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Iskandar Hasan on Wednesday said Bashir had twice visited Hamparan Perak, the site of an attack on a police post on Sept. 22 in which three officers were killed, where he allegedly recruited followers.

“His understanding of jihad is to kill, which he considers permissible because those who are killed are ‘infidels,’ ” Iskandar said.

“Abu Bakar Bashir actually went to Hamparan Perak to recruit followers.”

He added police were now investigating every place ever visited by Bashir across the country.

“We strongly believe that he must have followers in every place he visited, including Hamparan Perak,” he said.

According to Iskandar, a number of suspects arrested by police had said Bashir provided Rp 150 million ($16,800) in start-up money to fund the recruitment and training of terrorists in Aceh and in North Sumatra’s interior.

Police gunned down six suspected terrorists in North Sumatra over the weekend, including suspects in a deadly bank robbery in Medan on Aug. 18 and the attack on the Hamparan Perak police post.

The body of a seventh man believed to be linked to both the bank heist and the Hamparan Perak attack was found floating in the Belutu River, south of Medan, on Wednesday.

The man was identified as Mohammad Aie, 28, who was wanted by police as part of their investigations into the North Sumatra terrorist group.

Separately, National Police Chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri on Wednesday said as many as 50 suspected terrorists originally from Aceh were now hiding in North Sumatra.

“They keep moving around. To track them down, joint police and military forces are combing a number of locations believed to be their hideouts,” he said after meeting with the widows of the three officers gunned down in the Hamparan Perak attack.

Bambang said that of the 31 suspects arrested in connection with the terrorist group, 10 had been shot dead by police.

“All have links to the terrorist group that was conducting paramilitary training in Jantho, Aceh, and Java. We will prove all of this in court,” he said.

According to Bambang, some 50 assault rifles and handguns had been acquired by terrorists in North Sumatra.

“Our antiterror officers are tracking down their whereabouts. We have so far managed to seize four AK-56s, three FN pistols and one M-16,” he said.

Police had previously said a recent spate of robberies across the province, on banks, Internet cafes and a money changer, was intended to finance the operations of a terrorist group that was believed to be operating in the area since November.

At least 50 suspected members of an Al Qaeda-linked militant group in neighboring Aceh have been arrested and several killed since the group’s paramilitary training camp was raided by police in February. Jakarta Globe

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