Indonesia suspects new terrorist links to al Qaeda
A group of 11 suspected terrorists arrested in Indonesia in the past week for allegedly planning to attack the U.S. Embassy and other American targets is likely connected to remnants of Jemaah Islamiyah, according to Indonesia's counterterrorism head.
Ansyaad Mbai said interrogation of the group would probably show they are linked with Jemaah Islamiyah, which was al Qaeda's chief franchise in Southeast Asia and the group that carried out the Bali bombings 10 years ago. He said the group "looked new at first, but we've found that they're connected to the previous terrorist networks."
The arrests came as government forces stepped up operations on the northern island of Sulawesi. Police on Wednesday killed one suspect and arrested two others in a shootout in the Sulawesi town of Poso.
Mbai said Poso is the new front in Indonesia's fight against Islamism. Officials say militants are fomenting sectarian unrest between Muslims and Christians in Poso to destabilize the country and advance their ultimate goal of creating an Islamic nation.
Mbai said, "The center of gravity for terrorism in Indonesia is Solo [in Central Java], but Poso is used as the training grounds now. The situation is already critical. People are scared."
He said it was possible that some of the men apprehended during the past week in the plot against the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta received training in Poso. The 11 suspects were all arrested in cities on Java: Bogor, Solo and Madiun.
Indonesian police said the suspects were planning attacks on the embassy, the U.S. Consulate in Surabaya and an office of the Indonesian arm of a U.S. mining company.
Indonesian police identified the suspects as being from a little-known group called Haraqah Sunni for Indonesian Society, or Hasmi. The group targeted American interests in part for revenge following the anti-Islam video clip, that triggered protests around the Muslim world.
Amar said, "From the investigation so far, we know that one of the reasons why they will launch the act of terrorism is this movie, which they view is a blasphemy against Islam.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in a speech on Tuesday, called on Indonesia's citizens to fight terrorism but added that the rest of the world needs to be careful about angering extremist elements. He said, "I am also calling on to the world, to countries to uphold mutual respect and be sensitive to [values] in other communities, in other nations, in other religions. Stop blasphemies."
Southeast Asia's terror situation is not confined to Indonesia. Lebanese officials last week arrested two Malaysians in Beirut on suspicion of having links with al Qaeda. Marwan Sinno, the lawyer representing the two Malaysians, said they had been accused of working for al Qaeda and planning a terrorist act in Syria.
Posted by: ryuge