q Jemaah Islamiyah
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SELECT * FROM tbltwar WHERE (lower(rquote) LIKE '%jemaah%' AND lower(rquote) LIKE '%islamiyah%') order by rdate desc
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2018-11-12 Africa North
[AlAhram] Egypt’s official gazette published on Sunday the names of 164 members of the hard-line Islamist movement al-Gamaa al-Islamiya
...also in our files as Moslem Brotherhood-allied Jamaa al-Islamiya
...The Islamic Group. Sunni Islamist alignment in Lebanon. The group was founded in 1952 as the Leb branch of the Moslem Brüderbund. Its current leader is Faisal Mawlawi. The party has a military wing known as the al-Fajr Forces. Currently they have 1 seat in the Lebanese Parliament...
who were placed on a terrorism list by a Cairo criminal court on 28 October.

The court placed the group, which waged an armed insurgency in the 1990s but renounced violence more than a decade ago, on a "terrorist entities" list, and placed 164 of its members on the terrorism list for five years.

The list includes the group's leading members Assem Abdel-Maged,
...he once shared a prison cell with Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and was jailed for 25 years for his part in the 1981 assassination of President Anwar El-Sadat. He was last seen living in exile in Qatar...
Mohammed El-Islambouly
... also known as Mohammed Showqi al-Islambouli, brother of Khalid al- Islambouli, the assassin of the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat...
and Tarek El-Zomor.
...currently sheltered in Turkey and accused of leading and financing Ansar Beit al Maqdis/Wilayat Sinai (ISIS)...
The court also ordered that the funds of those added to the list be seized and managed by a special committee.

"These are judicial precautionary measures that seek to preserve, protect and [serve] the interest of the entire society," said the court.

The court's decision was based on a memo prepared by the High State Security Prosecution that says many leaders and members of al-Gamaa al-Islamiya "renounced their previous initiative to stop violence and declared their adherence to the ideology of the organization that justifies violent acts," and regard the president as an infidel for failing to abide by Islamic Sharia law, the official gazette said.

Al-Gamaa al-Islamiya was implicated in the 1981 liquidation of Egyptian President Anwar El-Sadat before they renounced violence more than a decade ago.
....in between they busied themselves with the 1997 Luxor temple massacre of 62 people, mostly foreign tourists...
The group stepped out of the shadow after the 2011 revolution that overthrew longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak
...The former President-for-Life of Egypt, dumped by popular demand in early 2011...
After he came in to office in 2012, Mubarak's successor Mohammed Morsi freed some members of the group who had been nabbed
Drop the rosco, Muggsy, or you're one with the ages!
during the group’s armed insurrection against the state in the 1990s.

Morsi, a leader of the Moslem Brüderbund group who was removed from office after a one-year rule, is now serving a 20-year sentence after being convicted for involvement in the killing of protesters during demonstrations that culminated in his ouster, and a 25-year jail term over spying for Qatar
...an emirate on the east coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It sits on some really productive gas and oil deposits, which produces the highest per capita income in the world. They piss it all away on religion, financing the Moslem Brotherhood and several al-Qaeda affiliates. Home of nutbag holy manYusuf al-Qaradawi...
Egyptian authorities banned the Brotherhood in 2013 and declared it a terrorist organization.
Al Arabiya adds:
The court said that the decision came after the disclosure of attempts by the leaders of the group to revive its terror activities, incitement against the state, recruitment of fighters from the governorates of impoverished Upper Egypt and its association with foreign parties.
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2018-06-23 Southeast Asia
[IsraelTimes] Aman Abdurrahman convicted for suicide kaboom in Starbucks cafe attributed to Islamic State

Indonesian holy man Aman Abdurrahman
...despite serving a sentence in maximum security prison for funding a Jemaah Islamiyah training camp, the cell phone sermons of the former holy man of Al Qaeda in Aceh persuaded hundreds of Indonesians to join the ISIS caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Ten devices were confiscated from his cell in September 2014 alone, demonstrating that prison walls cannot confine the spirit of a determined man with imprisoned followers willing to riot...
was sentenced to death Friday over his role in a 2016 Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
terror attack that saw a jacket wallah blow himself up at a Jakarta Starbucks cafe.

Heavily armed police guarded the hearing at a Jakarta court ‐ which had earlier found Abdurrahman guilty of criminal masterminding the attack that killed four ‐ as it ordered his execution.

"(The defendant) has been proven to have committed a criminal act of terrorism," said judge Akhmad Jaini, who also cited Abdurrahman’s involvement in other attacks for handing down the death penalty
"He will be sentenced to death."

Executions are carried out by firing squad in the world’s biggest Moslem-majority country, which has long struggled with Islamist terrorism.

The assault in the capital two years ago saw security forces battle gun-toting Lions of Islam near the cafe where a suicide bomber detonated his explosives.

Last month, prosecutors demanded that Abdurrahman be handed a death sentence for his role in the attack, which was the first claimed by IS in Southeast Asia.

Considered the de facto head of all IS supporters in Indonesia, Abdurrahman ‐ believed to be 46 ‐ is also the spiritual leader of local murderous Moslem network Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD).

Authorities have said JAD was involved in the 2016 attack and a recent wave of suicide kabooms in Indonesia’s second-biggest city Surabaya. Two families ‐ including girls aged nine and 12 ‐ blew themselves up at churches and a cop shoppe last month, killing 13.

Authorities have not charged Abdurrahman ‐ who was already in jail on a separate terror conviction ‐ over the Surabaya attacks.

Despite being imprisoned since 2010, Abdurrahman has recruited Lions of Islam to join IS, is thought to have been in communication with leaders of the jihadist group, and is the main translator for IS propaganda in Indonesia, according to analysts and authorities.
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2018-04-25 Southeast Asia
[ASIASENTINEL] In the early morning of Feb. 11, a congregation of more than 100 worshippers packed into the small St. Lidwina Catholic church in Sleman, Yogyakarta, 530 km from Jakarta, to take part in the weekly Sunday Mass.

Little more than 30 minutes of the service had passed when a young man yielding a meter-long samurai sword burst in through the main entrance and began attacking terror-stricken worshippers indiscriminately, leaving four people seriously injured as others ran for their lives before the perpetrator was shot in the leg and tossed in the calaboose
You have the right to remain silent...
The attack exposed the lingering threat from homegrown Lions of Islam in a country that has largely avoided the scourge of Islamist terrorism since the collapse of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in the late 2000s. In the years since, several newly-formed groups along with JI’s offshoots have remained active beneath the radar, posing only a latent threat to security in the world’s most populous Moslem nation.

The risk of returning ISIS fighters from war zones in Syria, Iraq and Marawi adds an extra dimension to the threat. Returnees will be battle-hardened and trained in combat, as well as possessing tactical know-how and in some cases bomb-making skills. At least 500 Indonesians have traveled to fight alongside ISIS in Syria and Iraq while more than 30 are thought to have participated in the Marawi conflict.
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2018-03-11 Africa North
[AlAhram] A Giza criminal court sentenced on Saturday 10 people to death in a case known in the media as the "Imbaba
...a working class neighbourhood that confusingly resides in either Cairo or Giza, it has been a Jemaah Islamiyah (“the Islamic Group”) stronghold since the 1980s. With the election of Mohammed Morsi and following his overthrow, Imbaba became a stronghold of Moslem Brotherhood support...
Terrorist Cell."

The court also sentenced five others to life imprisonment.

Saturday’s sentence comes after a preliminary death sentence issued by the court in late January pending the Grand Mufti’s non-binding opinion.

Referring death sentences to the Grand Mufti is a legal requirement before the sentenced is finalised, although the Mufti’s religious opinion is not binding.

The defendants were being tried for establishing an outlawed group from 2013 till March 2015 with the aim of attacking state institutions, harming national unity, targeting Copts, disturbing public order, endangering society, attacking police and security forces, and possessing unlicensed arms.
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2018-02-28 Terror Networks
[AlAhram] The US Department of State designated on Wednesday "ISIS-Egypt" as a terrorist group as part of new designations of ISIS groups and individuals in several countries, saying it will continue to target ISIS and "deny it access to the US financial system."

The designation also included 40 ISIS leaders and groups in Tunisia, Somalia, Nigeria, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

"These designations are part of a larger comprehensive plan to defeat [ISIS] in coordination with the 75-member global coalition to defeat the group," a statement said.

The ISIS-Egypt group has grabbed credit for terrorist attacks in Egypt's Wahat region, the Nile Delta and Upper Egypt.

ISIS-Egypt most recently claimed an attack by a gunman on a Coptic church in Helwan, south of Cairo, which killed nine people in December.

In April 2014, the US designated the North Sinai-based ISIS affiliate Ansar Beit al-Maqdis as a terrorist organization.

In January, the US State Department placed on its terror list two other Egyptian terrorist groups, Hasm and Lewaa al-Thawra
...The Revolution Brigade, which along with Hasm (Decisiveness or Determination) is one of the fighting arms of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, established to fight back against the overthrow of President Morsi...
, which Egyptian authorities have linked to the Moslem Brüderbund organization.

Manila Hails US Move to Blacklist Local IS-Linked Groups

[AnNahar] The Philippines hailed on Wednesday Washington's decision to blacklist two local pro-Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
groups, including one which occupied the southern city of Marawi last year, triggering a months-long battle.

The US State Department and the Department of Treasury designated the Maute group and the Dawlatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masrik as "terrorist organizations" on Tuesday, blocking US-based assets belonging to them or their supporters and barring Americans from dealing with them.

"The (move) is an affirmation of what Philippine authorities already know -- that the Maute Group and the Dawlah-Islamiya are terrorist groups that need to be dealt with decisively using the full force of the law," a statement by the defence ministry in Manila said.

"They will be denied access to the US financial system and will face sanctions as may be deemed appropriate, making it more difficult for them to conduct their activities in the Philippines and abroad."

Militants from the Maute group were routed from Marawi last October after a five-month battle sparked by its bid to establish an IS caliphate in the largely Catholic country's southern Mindanao region.

The US, a long-time defence ally, helped Philippine forces with intelligence input, including reconnaissance flights, during the fighting which claimed more than 1,100 lives and reduced large parts of the city to rubble.

However the Philippine military warned last week that remaining members of the group have recruited about 200 button men to mount another attempt.

The Dawlatul Islamiyah, or Dawlah-Islamiya as designated by the Philippine defence ministry, is a smaller faction also based in Mindanao.

"We are profoundly committed to preventing ISIS from gaining (a) foothold in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia, and we should continue working together on this objective," Philippine Foreign Undersecretary Ernesto Abella told news hounds, using an acronym for IS.

Brigadier-General Bienvenido Datuin, front man for the Philippine military, said the US move would boost local counter-terrorism efforts.

"(A) specific advantage... is the checking of money trail, financial sources, logistics lines and conduits of terror groups in foreign countries that may have connections with local violent myrmidons," he said.

Other armed Philippine groups that have made the US terror blacklist in previous years include the New People's Army, waging a decades-old Maoist armed rebellion, and the Abu Sayyaf
...also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya, an Islamist terror group based in Jolo, Basilan and Zamboanga. Since its inception in the early 1990s, the group has carried out bombings, kidnappings, murders, head choppings, and extortion in their uniquely Islamic attempt to set up an independent Moslem province in the Philippines. Abu Sayyaf forces probably number less than 300 cadres. The group is closely allied with remnants of Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiya and has loose ties with MILF and MNLF who sometimes provide cannon fodder...
, which linked up with the Maute button men in Marawi last year.
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2018-02-26 Southeast Asia
[RAPPLER] The widow of notorious Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) leader Marwan has been tossed in the clink
Youse'll never take me alive coppers!... [BANG!]... Ow!... I quit!
on Sunday, February 25, the Philippine National Police announced.

Juromee Dongon was arrested by police operatives in an operation in Tubod, Lanao del Norte early Sunday morning.

Dongon was married to a big shot of the notorious Abu Sayyaf
...also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya, an Islamist terror group based in Jolo, Basilan and Zamboanga. Since its inception in the early 1990s, the group has carried out bombings, kidnappings, murders, head choppings, and extortion in their uniquely Islamic attempt to set up an independent Moslem province in the Philippines. Abu Sayyaf forces probably number less than 300 cadres. The group is closely allied with remnants of Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiya and has loose ties with MILF and MNLF who sometimes provide cannon fodder...
kidnap-for-ransom group, Khadaffy Janjalani. After his death in 2006 she married Malaysian bombmaker Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, who was killed in 2015 in the Philippines, police said.

Aside from Dongon, arrested were her sister Lorilie Atta y Dongon and SPO4 Andy Atta, Lorilie's husband.

Confiscated from the 3 were:

One fragmentation grenade
6 blasting caps
One blasting cap assembly
One electric detonating cord
One non-electric detonating cord
One plastic container
Two sling bags
One 9mm Glock 17 pistol issued by the PNP
3 magazines for the Glock 17 pistol
37 live ammunition for the 9mm pistol

"[Dongon] assists, associates, networks and supports terrorist groups," regional police front man Superintendent Lemuel Gonda told Agence La Belle France-Presse.

"Juromee is linked with Abu Sayyaf during the time of Janjalani and then later Jemaah Islamiyah," he added, referring to a Southeast Asian bully boy group.

Marwan was a leading member of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and a suspect in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people as well as in two deadly Philippine attacks.

He died in a raid in the southern Philippines that also left 44 police commandos dead. The US had offered a $5 million bounty for him.

Father of Romeo Dongon arrested
In a separate operation, cops also arrested Romeo Dongon, alias "Faisal" at Sitio Tinago, San Juan, Baroy, Lanao del Norte, and found illegal firearms in his possession. Dongon's daughter Norein Dongon Santos was also arrested.

Romeo Dongon is the father of Renierlo Dongon, who was the terrorist who had a love affair with a police official, Superintendent Cristina Nobleza. It can be recalled that Nobleza and Dongon were arrested back in April 2017, when the two attempted to evade capture during a police operation against the Abu Sayyaf in Bohol. (READ: Cop detained over alleged plot to rescue ASG in Bohol)

The team was composed of operatives from the regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Special Action Force, provincial and municipal cops.

Cops seized the following from the house:

One Colt MK1V .45 caliber pistol
One magazine of caliber .45 bullets
3 pieces of caliber .45 cartridges
One M61 fragmentation hand grenade
One gray empty blasting cup
One two-feet yellow detonating cord

Cops also confiscated a Samsung tablet, a Lenovo laptop with a handbag case, a 4 mobile phones, and two electrical wires.

Dongon family's terror links
An exclusive report by Rappler's Maria Ressa back in April revealed that the Dongon family is no stranger to controversial terror-linked marriages.

Zainab Dongon, another Dongon daughter, was the wife of Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Marwan. Zainab had also married the brother of Abu Sayyaf founder Abdujarak Janjalani, Khadaffy Janjalani, who was killed by government forces.

Another sister, Aminah, married Jainal Antel Sali, also known as Abu Solaiman. A 41-year-old civil engineer, he was Khadaffy Janjalani's deputy.

Romeo Dongon's wife, Judith Dongon, was arrested with Renierlo and Nobleza in the April 2017 incident in Clarin, Bohol.

Norein herself is apparently the wife of Ahmad Santos, the founder and leader of the Rajah Solaiman Movement until his arrest in 2005.

They have been put under the custody of the CIDG, which handles high-level suspects and criminals.
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2018-02-22 Southeast Asia
[ARABNEWS] There are no direct links between Indonesian Lions of Islam and the leadership of ISIS in Syria, an Indonesian terrorism expert said on Tuesday.

Taufik Andrie, executive director of the Institute for International Peace Building in Jakarta, was speaking during a meeting about changes in the global terrorism network and the impact those changes have had on extremism in Indonesia.

He said that attacks by self-proclaimed ISIS-affiliated Lions of Islam in Indonesia "were not always related to ISIS, or even to Bahrun Naim or Aman Abdurrahman," referencing an Indonesian bad boy believed to be fighting for ISIS in Syria and a convicted radical holy man who led a ISIS-affiliated network from his prison cell.

"There has never been a direct link between ISIS in Syria with those who claimed to be affiliated with the group here," Andrie said. "Most of those so-called acknowledgements were self-proclaimed.

"If we follow the money trail, there has been little financial support coming in from Syria to Indonesia for terrorism activities," he told Arab News.

a clean conscience makes a soft pillow...
Andrie said that remnants of the Southeast Asian bad boy network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) ‐ outlawed in Indonesia since 2008 ‐ still remain, with a clear organizational structure and key figures implementing their strategies.

Nasir Abbas, a former bad boy who is now known as a de-radicalization activist, said the group now operates anonymously, but still works toward the same goals using a mixture of preaching and violence.

"They are still on the move, but they don’t put a name on their organization. They use a strategy, unlike other Lions of Islam who think that they are waging war by being lone wolves," said Abbas, adding that other bad boy groups were now emulating JI by putting a solid structure in place.

"They would try to settle in a small region and strengthen their base, preaching to the locals about their intention to establish a caliphate and making the locals believe in their propaganda," he explained.

Abbas said the conflict-torn southern Philippines remains the go-to destination for Southeast Asian Lions of Islam returning to the region after joining ISIS in the Middle East. He claimed they pass through the porous sea and land borders from Indonesia’s North Kalimantan province to Malaysia’s Sabah state before entering the Philippines in Basilan
...Basilan is a rugged, jungle-covered island in the southern Philippines. It is a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, bandidos, and maybe even orcs. Most people with any sense travel with armed escorts...
"It’s the preferred trail because there is a chain of small islands in the Sulu Sea and there are a lot of separatist groups there, which means there is an abundant supply of guns and ammunition," he said.

Nava Nuraniyah, an analyst at the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) in Jakarta, said there has been little change in the role of women in krazed killer groups, particularly in Indonesian and Filipino organizations.

"Very few of them have become combatants. When they do, the reason is usually self-empowerment," she told Arab News. "But most of them play the role of financier, treasurer and recruiter. They manage the money because they are housewives who are also entrepreneurs," she explained.

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2017-10-10 Southeast Asia
[PHILSTAR] The Department of Justice has started processing a request from its US counterpart for the extradition of a physician enjugged
Book 'im, Mahmoud!
in connection with a jihadist plot to attack several targets in New York. Russell Salic, according to the US Justice Department, described the Philippines as "a breeding ground for terrorists."

The statement is not entirely an empty boast. Foreign governments have raised concern about the growth of Islamist extremism in the Philippines and its Southeast Asian neighbors particularly Indonesia and Malaysia. The man convicted of organizing the first attack on the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan, in which a truck bomb was set off beneath the North Tower in February 1993, plotted the attack partly in Manila. Al Qaeda chieftain the late Osama bin Laden
... who is now neither a strong horse nor a weak horse, but a dead horse...
’s brother-in-law was suspected of using an Widows & Orphans Ammunition Fund in Mindanao for terrorist financing.

Today the military is battling Maute Lions of Islam linked to the Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
in Marawi. With ISIS on the run from its former strongholds in Iraq and Syria, there are concerns that the group may try to relocate to Southeast Asia, where the Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah operates together with the Abu Sayyaf
...also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya, an Islamist terror group based in Jolo, Basilan and Zamboanga. Since its inception in the early 1990s, the group has carried out bombings, kidnappings, murders, head choppings, and extortion in their uniquely Islamic attempt to set up an independent Moslem province in the Philippines. Abu Sayyaf forces probably number less than 300 cadres. The group is closely allied with remnants of Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiya and has loose ties with MILF and MNLF who sometimes provide cannon fodder...
and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters
...a MILF splinter group aligned with the Islamic State...
The Philippine government must reassure the world that this will not happen. Salic, according to the US Justice Department, had reportedly said terror laws in the Philippines are "not strict" compared to countries such as Australia and the UK.

"Terrorists from all over the world usually come here as a breeding ground for Lions of Islam ... hahahaha... But no worry here in Philippines. They dont care bout IS ... Only in west," Salic was quoted as saying.

Salic is not entirely off the mark; JI bomb makers have conducted training in Mindanao, and several foreign jihadis have been killed in the fighting in Marawi. The Philippines has a law against terrorism, but it includes safeguards against human rights
When they're defined by the state or an NGO they don't mean much...
violations so stringent that law enforcers can go to prison for many years even for honest mistakes.

Not surprisingly, the Human Security Act has remained largely unenforced. It needs a review by Congress if the terrorist threat is to be contained. All countries face the threat of terrorism these days. What sets countries apart ‐ and reassures citizens, foreign travelers and investors ‐ is the state’s capability to deal with the threat. The Philippines cannot afford to be found wanting.
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2017-06-10 Southeast Asia
Scorecards! Gitcher scorecards here! You can't tell the players without a scorecard!
[MANILATIMES.NET] WHEN President Duterte mentioned in a talk that imported muscle would regroup in Mindanao after their rout in the Middle East, I greeted the statement with some skepticism. But with the Marawi incident and the discovery of imported muscle among the Maute band, I thought that the President must be some sort of Nostradamus.

As background, the Maute group, also known as the IS-Ranao, which figured prominently in the Marawi siege, is a radical Islamist group composed of former guerrillas of the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) guand some imported muscle. The group is led by Abdullah Maute, the alleged founder of a Dawlah Islamiya, or Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
based in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao, Philippines. The group already figured in a clash with Army troops in February 2016 that ended with the capture of their headquarters in Butig, Lanao del Sur. The group is thought to have over 100 members and was supplied with equipment by a foreign terrorist. They are said to be affiliated with Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian Islamist terror group.
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2017-04-26 Southeast Asia
See also the article below.
[CNNPHILIPPINES] Thirty-seven members of the Maute terror group, including four foreign suspects, were killed in a series of encounters in Lanao del Sur, the military said Tuesday.

Ground and air strikes against the terror group began early morning on April 22 in Barangay Gacap, in the town of Piagapo in Lanao del Sur, said Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief General Eduardo Año, in a chance interview with news hounds.

Among those killed were members of the local Maute group, and three Indonesians and one Malaysian who were members of Jemaah Islamiyah, an Indonesia-based terror group with links to Al Qaeda, Año said.

The military believes Maute members obtained their long firearms from an Indonesian terrorist affiliated with Jemaah Islamiyah.

After nearly three days of fighting, government troops seized the Maute group's "main camp" in Piagapo on Monday, the military added.

Authorities recovered a flag with ISIS insignia, rifle and fragmentation grenades, other items used for making explosives, cellphones, and camouflage uniforms, said Lt. Gen Carlito Galvez, chief of the military's Western Mindanao Command, in a press briefing on Monday.

A passport belonging to an Indonesian national was also recovered, he said.
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2017-04-26 Southeast Asia
See also the article above.
[Inquirer] Two Abu Sayyaf leaders and at least four foreign fighters were among the terrorists killed in clashes that spanned three days as Philippine security forces pursued a local terror group in Lanao del Sur province.

Military chief of staff Eduardo Año said three Indonesians and a Malaysian, believed to be members of the Jemaah Islamiyah terror group, were among 37 militants who were killed in the assault. He said 14 of the dead had been identified, but did not name any of the slain foreigners or armed men.

Rolando Joselito Bautista said among those killed was Abu Imam Bantayaw, an Abu Sayyaf leader based in this town; and a subcommander identified only as Mael, who was killed and buried here on Sunday night. Bautista said one of those slain, believed to be a foreigner, was buried in a bomb crater.

Troops have also recovered the passport of an Indonesian national from the clash site in Barangay Gacap, he said.

Military spokesman Nixon Fortes said there would be no letup in operations against the Maute group, which had established a new camp in Piagapo. The area is just five kilometers from Camp Pukta of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front faction led by Abdullah Macapaar, alias Kumander Bravo, according to Fortes.

Año, in an interview on Tuesday, said the four were among the 130 foreigners living in Mindanao who are thought to be supporting local Abu Sayyaf militants. He said mopping-up operations were ongoing as soldiers tried to locate Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.
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2017-04-15 Southeast Asia
[PNA] A senior Philippine military official disclosed that Abu Sayyaf one-armed and top leader Radullan Sahiron plans to surrender to the government. Westmincom spokesman Carlito Galvez said, "Radullan Sahiron is contemplating to surrender because he is old."

Galvez said that one of the conditions of Sahiron is for the government "not to turn him over to the U.S. government" when he turns himself in. The FBI has set a million reward for the capture of Sahiron.

Sahiron is the leading figure in the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu province after most of the founding Abu Sayyaf leaders were killed.
Galvez said, "We see that not only those in the lower ranks of the ASG are expressing their desire to surrender because they’re​already feeling ​the heat of the military operation. And they also feel the sincerity of the President to accept people who wanted to surrender."

Galvez said they were employing non-lethal approaches in dealing with the Abu Sayyaf, including a rehabilitation program. He said they are replicating this approach from their military counterparts in Indonesia and Malaysia. Galvez said the same tactic was used in "decimating" the networks of the Jemaah Islamiyah.

On Thursday, Galvez presented to the local media the 11 Abu Sayyaf rebels, including two sub-leaders, who surrendered to the government in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi. Ben Saudi Sariol, one of the 11 surrenderers, said they decided to turn themselves in to the military as the offensive against the Abu Sayyaf have intensified in recent months.

"We just want a peaceful life. We want our children to go to school, and earn a decent living. We feel much safer​ now," Sariol said in Tausug dialect. Ben, along with his father Berong Sariol and nine other relatives, surrendered to the troops on Tuesday night. They also surrendered their firearms to the military.
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2017-04-12 Southeast Asia
[THESTAR.MY] KUALA LUMPUR: The hunt for notorious Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
(IS) holy warrior Mohamad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi will be further intensified following his inclusion in the global terror watch list, says Comm Datuk Seri Mohamad Fuzi Harun.

The Bukit Aman Special Branch department director said the Royal Malaysia Police, especially the Coun­ter Terrorism Division will work closely with their American counterparts in hunting Mohamad Wanndy.

"He (Mohamad Wanndy) has been the criminal mastermind behind several terror plots in Malaysia, including the bombing at the Movida nightclub.

"He has also been actively recruiting more Malaysian gunnies for IS. This inclusion in the global watch list will definitely boost efforts to hunt him down," he said yesterday.

While Mohamad Wanndy’s inclusion in the watch list by US authorities was welcomed, Comm Mohamad Fuzi said Bukit Aman had already placed him in its own wanted list for the past two years.

"We are aware of the crucial role Mohamad Wanndy has played in attempting to launch attacks on home soil despite being in Syria," he said.

"Currently, he is one of the most influential Malaysian gunnies in IS."

The Star reported last year that Mohamad Wanndy was high on Bukit Aman’s wanted list, having spearheaded more than three terror plots in Malaysia.

it's easy to be generous with someone else's money...
the Counter Terrorism Division has been vigilant and alert in quelling his plans for terror attacks in the country.

Sources said that while Mohamad Wanndy was the "puppet master" behind terror activities in Malaysia, he had amassed at least RM100,000 within a short time to settle personal debts and cover his expenses in Syria.

"The holy warrior from Durian Tunggal is content with issuing orders for followers to execute attacks, including suicide kabooms, without getting his own hands dirty," a source said.

On a separate matter, Comm Mohamad Fuzi said actions taken against Siti Noor Aishah Atam, 30, was justified. She is in Kajang Prison after the Court of Appeal reversed her acquittal over charges of having 12 publications relating to terrorism.

She was a Kolej Universiti Insaniah (Kedah) graduate who was continuing her Masters in Islamic Studies at Universiti Malaya when she was tossed in the clink
Yez got nuttin' on me, coppers! Nuttin'!
in March last year under Sosma for having books on Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda.

On Sept 29 last year, she was acquitted by the Kuala Lumpur High Court but was re-arrested under the Prevention of Crime Act for allegedly importing IS flags into the country.

"We will not compromise against IS gunnies as well as sympathisers and supporters. We have enough credible evidence," Comm Mohamad Fuzi said.

"Safety and security is our priority," he said, in dismissing allegations by the Terengganu native’s family over miscarriage of justice in Siti Noor Aishah’s case.

"We also discovered that she was a student of wanted runaway holy warrior Dr Mahmud Ahmad, who has fled to southern Philippines.

"We won’t take such drastic action if the evidence is not sufficient," he said.
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2017-04-12 Southeast Asia
[RAPPLER] MANILA, Philippines ‐ The Court of Appeals (CA) upheld the murder conviction of two Indonesian bandidos bandidos bad boys involved in the bombing of the Awang Airport in Manguindanao in 2003.

In a March 30 ruling, the CA’s Former Special Sixteenth Division affirmed the decision issued by the Pasig City Regional Trial Court, which sentenced Zulkifli Julkifli alias Ahmad Faisal and Taufiq Rifqi, to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years of imprisonment.

The two, members of the notorious Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM), were found guilty of murder with double attempted murder for the bombing of the airport located in Barangay Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao. The February 2003 incident killed Sgt. Nelson Corpuz and injured several others.

The RSM also worked with Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf
...also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya, an Islamist terror group based in Jolo, Basilan and Zamboanga. Since its inception in the early 1990s, the group has carried out bombings, kidnappings, murders, head choppings, and extortion in their uniquely Islamic attempt to set up an independent Moslem province in the Philippines. Abu Sayyaf forces probably number less than 300 cadres. The group is closely allied with remnants of Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiya and has loose ties with MILF and MNLF who sometimes provide cannon fodder...
on the Superferry bombing in 2004 and the Valentine’s Day bombings in 2005. (READ: 9/11 and the Black Flag movement)

"The Court finds no compelling ground to disturb the factual findings of the RTC. As herein before pronounced, the rule is well-settled that factual findings of the trial court regarding the credibility of witnesses are accorded great weight and utmost respect given that trial courts have first hand observation of the witnesses’ demeanor while testifying in court," the CA said in a 23-page decision penned by Associate Justice Marie Christine Azcarraga-Jacob.

The appellate court also increase the moral damages due to the heirs of Corpuz from P50,000 to P75,000.

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2017-03-19 Southeast Asia
[GMA News] The Philippine miliatary on Saturday said it is verifying reports that a suspected foreign terrorist was killed in a series of assaults against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters early this week in Maguindanao.

Westmincom spokesperson Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay said in a statement that there are persistent reports that Indian-Singaporean terrorist Mohammad Ali bin Abdulrahman, alias Muawiyah, were among 21 terrorists slain in air and ground assaults launched against targets in Barangay Tee in Datu Salibo town from March 13 to 16.

Abdulrahman had reportedly acted as a negotiator for the Abu Sayyaf and is known as a 'dangerous' Jemaah Islamiyah operative.

Petinglay said that also reported killed in the attacks were Salahuddin Hassan, a local terrorist and bomber trained by Abdulrahman and Esmael Abdulmalik, alias Abu Toraype, a brigade commander in the BIFF.

She said that Abdulrahman and the two local terrorists were associates of terror suspect Marwan, who had been confirmed killed by elite troopers in Mamasapano town on January 2016.

Recovered during the operations were bomb-making manuals, five improvised explosive devices and several IED components. Petinglay said, "The recovery from the area of manuals of IED-making indicates that the slain terrorists were giving instructions on how to assemble explosive devices and launch bombing attacks."

Petinglay said that Abulrahman's group had also provided training for new recruits, including members of local terror Maute group based in Lanao.
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2017-03-14 Southeast Asia
[GMANETWORK] At least 11 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters
...a MILF splinter group aligned with the Islamic State...
(BIFF) have been killed in air strikes launched by the military at the bandit group's known lairs in two villages in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao.

Capt. Ervin Encinas, spokesperson of the Philippine Army's 6th Infantry Division, said the offensive's target was the group of a certain Kumander Bungos of the BIFF and three foreign terrorists.

Encinas said several other BIFF members were also injured in the air strikes, which started on Monday afternoon.

He said the group of Kumander Bungos has encampments in barangays Andavit and Tee.

Local officials said that at least 300 families have been forced to evacuate due to the military's offensive.

Col. Diosdado Carreon, commander of the 601st Infantry Brigade, said senior Jemaah Islamiyah member and known bomber Mohammad Ali alias Muawiyah is among the foreign turbans included in Kumander Bungos' group.

It can be recalled that the military had claimed that Ali was killed in an assault in 2012, but later took back the announcement and said that the international terrorist was alive.
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2017-02-06 Southeast Asia
[TODAYONLINE] Increasing concern over foreign terrorist fighters returning to South-east Asia has prompted Indonesia to enhance immigration cooperation with Asean member countries.

But regional cooperation must be preceded by significant internal improvement, particularly in regards to the integrity and capability of the country’s immigration apparatus.

Since coalition forces successfully pushed the so-called Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
(IS) to djinn-infested Mosul
... the home of a particularly ferocious and hairy djinn...
and launched Operation Conquest, leaders from various countries have expressed their concern over the potential consequences of fleeing IS imported muscle.

Indonesia -- a country where a small collection of IS fighters has its origins and where imported muscle are often attracted to joining local resistances -- must keep an eye on its border security.

Indonesia already has experience in this issue, as its immigration and border security have been exploited in the past by Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) fighters wanting to enter or leave the country.

Indonesia’s problem with people movement seems to centre on a lack of integrity in the immigration apparatus, as well as the sheer scale of its borderlands.

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2017-01-13 Southeast Asia
[TODAYONLINE] Women’s roles in terrorist networks in Indonesia have until now been dictated by their kinship ties through marriage, involving facilitating logistics and finance for terrorist acts. But there is a growing trend of women taking on combat roles.

Detachment 88, Indonesia’s police counter-terrorism unit, recently locked away
Keep yer hands where we can see 'em, if yez please!
three women who were allegedly involved in plotting to bomb the Indonesian State Palace. The women -- Dian Yulia Novi, Arida Putri Maharani and Tutin Sugiarti -- were a part of a Solo-based terrorist network under the coordination of Bahrun Naim, the man allegedly behind the 2016 Jakarta attacks.

A few days after their arrest, Detachment 88 also arrested Ika Puspitasari in a mosque near her home in Purworejo, Central Java.

Novi and Maharani are the wives of Muhammad Nur Solihin, who is believed to be the leader of the terror cell. Novi was responsible for preparing the planned suicide kaboom at the Indonesian State Palace.

Maharani was aware of these preparations for the attack and had facilitated its funding. Sugiarti, interestingly, played a key role in radicalising Novi despite Novi being married to the group’s head. The last woman, Puspitasari, had prepared to conduct a suicide kaboom in Bali on New Year’s Eve.

Within Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Indonesia’s most infamous terrorist group, women previously played only intermediary and childbearing roles, with the purpose of boosting ties and nurturing future jihadists in a bid to expand the group’s numbers. JI also relied on women to raise funds for violent jihad.

For example, Noralwizah Lee Binti Abdullah, a Sabah-Chinese woman who was the wife of JI’s former operational commander Hambali
...real name Riduan Isamuddin, close personal friend of Osama bin Laden, one of the founders of Jemaah Islamiyah and the planner of the 2002 Bali bombings. He was captured with the help of a mid-Eastern intel service, shipped to Guantanamo to rot but he'll likely be released eventually because that was a long time ago and we were all so much younger then...
, was believed to be JI’s chief accountant.

Classical Islam does not favour women taking on combative roles. But, with the rise of the so-called Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
(IS), the role of women in violent terrorist acts is evolving.

With the goal of establishing an Islamic state at all costs, IS has had to extend the kinds of roles available to women in their organization, involving them to a greater degree in armed combat and suicide missions. IS has established the al-Khansaa Brigade, a women-only unit that patrols around cities such as Raqqa and djinn-infested Mosul
... the home of a particularly ferocious and hairy djinn...
to enforce IS’ fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic values. Women also fought on the frontlines for IS in Libya.

Increased combat and planning roles for women in Indonesian terror cells reflects the influence and growing network of IS allies in South-east Asia. The East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) terror group, which pledges allegiance to IS, has conducted weapons training for its women including the wife of MIT’s commander. We should expect more women to be direct participants in terrorism in the future.

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2017-01-13 Southeast Asia
[CHANNELNEWSASIA] Eight Indonesians held at Singapore's Woodlands Checkpoint said they were preachers from the Tabligh Jamaat Islamic group, a senior Malaysian counter-terrorism official told Channel NewsAsia on Thursday (Jan 12).
Preachers. Simple preachers. Heavily-armed, simple preachers...
One of the eight, identified as Ridce Elfi Hendra, was found with one image of a shoe bomb and two images of Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
(IS), said Ayub Khan Mydin Pitchay, principal assistant director of Special Branch’s counter-terrorism division.

"They claimed to be preachers from the Tablighi Jamaat
A group of itinerant Deobandi preachers who form one of al-Qaeda's recruiting arms...
movement, which is also sometimes known as Tabligh. They said they have been preaching in madrasahs (religious boarding schools) in Pattani, southern Thailand and then travelled down to Malaysia’s state of Perlis. They later came to Malacca to meet with a preacher there," said Ayub.

Tabligh Jamaat is a global Sunni Moslem missionary group.

"We will be investigating the madrasahs and the preacher whom they met with," Ayub added.

The men were in Malaysia from Jan 3 to 10 and claimed they were from Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia.

A senior Indonesian counter-terrorism official told Channel NewsAsia that "initial interrogation showed they were not IS members".

"They are just preachers. This is the result of our initial investigation," said the Indonesian official.

Ayub said the men tried to enter Singapore at 1.30am on Jan 10 and were detained by Singapore’s immigration authorities and deported to Malaysia. They were held by Malaysia’s Special Branch counter-terrorism officers at 2am.

They were deported to Indonesia’s island of Batam at 9am that same day and handed over to Indonesian police counter-terrorism taskforce Densus 88.


Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) confirmed on Thursday evening that the eight Indonesians - aged between 16 and 37 - were deported to Malaysia on Jan 10.

"One of them was found in possession of images of security concern, including that of a shoe-bomb as well as fighters from the terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria," MHA said.

"The Singapore authorities informed their Malaysian counterparts before the deportation," added a spokesperson for MHA.

According to Ayub, the Tabligh movement's teachings in Malaysia have been mostly peaceful and moderate.

"There have been only one or two cases at the most where its followers were found to be radical. They joined Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the Malaysian Mujahidin Movement (KMM)," said Ayub.

JI is the regional terror group behind the devastating 2002 Bali bombings. KMM, which is also known as the Malaysian Militant Movement, is a turban group with links to JI, which believes in overthrowing the secular Malaysian government and replacing it with an Islamic state.

Tabligh has been described by Moslem scholars as apolitical and somewhat secretive. It was founded in 1927.

Its biggest annual event is a three-day prayer and fast held in Bangladesh that attracts millions and is believed to be one of the largest gatherings of Moslems in the world after the Haj pilgrimage.

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2017-01-10 Southeast Asia
[FREEMALAYSIATODAY] Police have told state religious departments to be more aggressive in monitoring Islamist preachers to ensure they do not promote radical ideologies that could inspire terrorist acts.

Bukit Aman’s anti-terrorism chief, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, said a lack of enforcement by religious authorities had given room to foreign and local preachers to engage with the public unmonitored. Some of them were spreading teachings that were not in line with mainstream Sunni beliefs, he added.

“We have noticed that some of these teachings lean towards extremism although the contents do not directly tell the listeners to cause harm to fellow Muslims,” he said.

He gave the example of preachers who would not directly tell their audiences that some Ahli Sunnah Wa al-Jamaah (SWJ) teachings were blasphemous but would call them “bid’ah (innovative)” instead.

Some of these preachers’ followers, being aware of prophetic traditions that condemn innovation in religion, might conclude that it would be permissible to kill the so-called innovators among SWJ adherents, Ayob said.

He said his department’s role did not include monitoring preachers, but added that it nevertheless had a list of suspects.

“If the teachings are against true Islamic teachings, we will advise the religious departments on the preachers and it is up to them to take further action,” he said. “By right, the preachers should get permission from the state religious department, but apparently many do not.”

He said the department’s current list included some preachers hailing from West Asian and African countries.

Ayob spoke of a Singaporean preacher, 64-year-old Rasul Dahri, who was arrested for the third time last year. He had been active in the Klang Valley and Johor for a few years although the National Fatwa Council, as well as the Penang Religious Department, had banned seven of his books.

He also spoke of terror suspect Mas Selamat Kastari of Singapore, whom Malaysian police arrested in April 2009, more than a year after he escaped from detention in his home country. He said Mas followed Rasul Dahri’s classes in Johor between between 1987 and 1989 before deciding to join Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

Citing other examples, Ayob said JI leaders Abu Bakar Bashir and Abdullah Sungkar managed to sneak into Malaysia in 1985 because of lack of monitoring by religious departments.

“This resulted in the recruitment of almost 300 Malaysians and citizens of other Asean countries as JI members.”

Ayob said the Johor religious department was one of the strictest in the country when it came to enforcing the law. “It is very stern and would not allow preachers without credentials and approval to teach in the state.”

He also commended the religious departments of Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Terengganu, Pahang, Sabah and Sarawak for strictness of enforcement.

A counter-terrorism expert from Universiti Malaya said yesterday that religious departments should work harder to filter the activities of preachers in the country to curtail the spread of “salafi jihadi” ideologies.

Balakrishnan RK Suppaiah acknowledged that countering the extremist ideology was difficult, but he said Malaysia could do it because it had the “right foundation” and a good police force.

“People will question you for monitoring places of worship,” he said. “But we have to do it because we are a moderate country where religion is concerned.”

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2017-01-10 Southeast Asia
[RAPPLER] Two were killed in a follow-up police operation against local terror group Ansar Khalifa Philippines (AKP) Saturday morning, January 7, in barangay Daliao of Sarangani's Maasim town.

Security officials identified them as foreign terrorist Abu Naila and a woman named Kadija. The 2 reportedly resisted arrest. Cops fired at them when they attempted to throw a rifle grenade.

Naila's nationality and affiliation are yet to be ascertained, but he is only one of several foreign Death Eaters believed to have joined the local terror group that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
Kadija is suspected be one of the live-in partners of AKP's slain leader Mohammad Jaafar Maguid or "Tokboy."

Police said they will continue pursuit operations against foreign Death Eaters who have joined AKP in Sarangani.

Security officials claim AKP has no direct links with the foreign terrorist organization, but the group has confirmed links with Indonesian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

"Tokboy was trained by key JI leaders, including Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, better known as Marwan, the high profile target of the Mamasapano tragedy that derailed the peace talks," wrote Rappler executive editor Maria Ressa.

"AKP under Tokboy has a direct link to Indonesian groups, especially MIT, Mujihidin Indonesia Timur, led by an Indonesian who trained in the Philippines, Santoso," Ressa added.

AKP is also believed to be behind threats against the November 2015 APEC Summit in Manila, which was spread by ISIS propaganda sites.
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2017-01-10 Southeast Asia
[MANILATIMES.NET] At least five to ten foreign faceless myrmidons have sought refuge in the country, the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) disclosed on Monday.

Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa told a news briefing in Camp Crame in Quezon City that these foreign faceless myrmidons are of different nationalities.

"I cannot give you the exact figure but as far as police intelligence is concerned we are monitoring at least five to ten of different nationalities," dela Rosa said.

He admitted that Filipino intelligence operatives are having a hard time looking for the Malay-looking terrorists.

The Philippine National Police chief they had received information that the foreign faceless myrmidons are training in the country for deployment later to strife-torn Syria.

One of those who had finished training in the Philippines, according to dela Rosa, was a suspected member of the jihadist group Ansar al-Khilafa Philippines (AKP) killed in Sarangani province in southern Mindanao last Saturday.

"This Sudanese was bound for Syria. So this group AKP is really aligned with the ISIS," he said.

The slain foreigner was identified as Abu Naila and his wife, a certain Kadija, was also killed during an operation in Barangay Daliao, Maasim town.

Superintendent Romeo Galgo, front man for the Central Mindanao regional police, said one of the suspects attempted to lob a grenade at coppers sent to arrest them, prompting the authorities to shoot them.

Police killed last Thursday morning the leader of the AKP, Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, alias Tokboy.

A source from the police intelligence community had said that one of the Malaysian terror suspect being monitored hiding in Mindanao is Amin Baco alias Abu Jihad.

The intelligence source said Abu Jihad is a member of the Indonesian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) who has been given safe refuge by the Abu Sayyaf
...also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya, an Islamist terror group based in Jolo, Basilan and Zamboanga. Since its inception in the early 1990s, the group has carried out bombings, kidnappings, murders, head choppings, and extortion in their uniquely Islamic attempt to set up an independent Moslem province in the Philippines. Abu Sayyaf forces probably number less than 300 cadres. The group is closely allied with remnants of Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiya and has loose ties with MILF and MNLF who sometimes provide cannon fodder...
Group (ASG) in Sulu in Mindanao.

The source added that Abu Jihad is also helping ASG members recruit locally.

The intelligence source said the Malaysian suspect was involved in past bombing incidents in Mindanao and is one of the five JI members who has been hiding in Sulu under the protection of the ASG.

The source from the police intelligence community added that a foreign terrorist from the Kihilafa Islamiya Movement (KIM) is training members of the ASG in guerilla warfare in some holy man's guesthouse an undisclosed location in in Lanao del Sur.

The ASG and KIM are among the terrorist groups in southern Philippines that have pledged allegiance to the ISIS.

The source from the intelligence community identified the foreign terrorist trainor as Abdurahman, a Soddy Arabia
...a kingdom taking up the bulk of the Arabian peninsula. Its primary economic activity involves exporting oil and soaking Islamic rubes on the annual hajj pilgrimage. The country supports a large number of princes in whatcha might call princely splendor. When the oil runs out the rest of the world is going to kick sand in the Soddy national face...
n and a JI member.

The intelligence source said Abdurahman has been staying in the country for many years.

The source added that Abdurahman is married to a Tausug and residing at a mosque near a mall in Davao City.

According to the intelligence source, the IM has received funding from a support group in Saudi Arabia.

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2016-12-04 Southeast Asia
[Business Mirror] Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte will not likely meet his forecast of ending terrorism in Mindanao by this month, given the results of the operations against the Abu Sayyaf, which he had entrusted to Armed Forces Chief of Staff Ricardo Visaya with an accompanying explicit order of finishing the insurgent group "to the last man."

Visaya is retiring on December 8 but, not only the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu and Basilan, which is being undertaken by 18 battalions of soldiers and six companies of militiamen, is still to reach its full operational tempo.

The problem has even widened with a new front in the anti-terror campaign, due to the Lanao del Sur-based Maute Group. The previously unheralded Maute Group has turned into a full-blown Moro jihadi organization that is in the league of the Abu Sayyaf in less than five months - even bolder, in fact.

The Maute group, which the military initially considered to be aligned with Jemaah Islamiyah, but confined in Lanao del Sur, has steadily built its reputation as a terrorist group that the Philippine government will have to contend in the years to come.

The group has built its memberships from the rosters of young radicalized fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, who shared the same stronghold in Lanao del Sur.

While the Abu Sayyaf has mostly carried out its bombings in Mindanao, the Maute Group ushered its first publicly known bombing right in Duterte's hometown of Davao City in September, killing 14 people and wounding at least 70 others.

On Monday a bomb was recovered near the U.S. Embassy in Manila, which was attributed to the Maute Group, because of the similarity of the bomb with the one used in Davao City.

The Maute was among the three groups, after the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, that have pledged their allegiance to Daesh.
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2016-11-05 Southeast Asia
This is not the moderate Islam of President Obama's childhood.
[KOBI5] Thousands of protesters waving flags are marching through Jakarta demanding the ouster of the city’s governor, who has been accused of blasphemy against Moslems.

Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, commonly known as Ahok, is alleged to have insulted Islam by criticizing his opponents’ use of a Koranic verse in a stump speech.

As many as 18,000 police and military personnel have been deployed for Friday’s protest, and an inner ring of approximately 100 armed military guards are outside the Governor’s residence, CNN Indonesia says.

Local media suggest as many as 50,000 people could take to the streets. There are fears that ISIS, and al-Qaeda, through its Indonesian proxy Jemaah Islamiyah, could seek to ferment violence.

Police have called on demonstrators to exercise their right to protest and freedom of expression in a peaceful manner. Residents have been warned to avoid the protest route and avoid sharing "unclear... provocative and incorrect information" on social media, Police Chief Tito Karnavian said in a statement.

The rally originates at Istiqlal Mosque in Central Jakarta and will end at the Presidential palace. Governments, including the UK and Australia, have urged their citizens in the city to exercise caution.

Conservative Islamist opponents say that Ahok, who is a Christian of Chinese descent, should not administer a Moslem-majority city.

They had previously quoted a verse from the Moslem holy book at a rally, which warns against Moslems allying themselves with non-believers.

Ahok is a key ally of President Joko Widodo and was his deputy when Widodo -- also known as Jokowi -- was governor of Jakarta. Ahok is now the frontrunner in the 2017 gubernatorial race.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo with Ahok after the latter’s swearing in as governor on November 19, 2014.

Jokowi has called for calm and is seeking support from Prabowo Subianto, his opponent in next year’s presidential election.

Former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose son is running against Ahok, made a speech two days ago calling for the governor to be persecuted to placate the Islamist opposition and quell the protests.
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2016-10-31 Southeast Asia
[GULFTODAY.AE] The military reported that a member of the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf
...also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya, an Islamist terror group based in Jolo, Basilan and Zamboanga. Since its inception in the early 1990s, the group has carried out bombings, kidnappings, murders, head choppings, and extortion in their uniquely Islamic attempt to set up an independent Moslem province in the Philippines. Abu Sayyaf forces probably number less than 300 cadres. The group is closely allied with remnants of Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiya and has loose ties with MILF and MNLF who sometimes provide cannon fodder...
terror group was slain in an encounter on the island province of Sulu in Mindanao even as it announced the arrest of four other suspects in the Sept.2 terror bombing of a popular night market in Davao City, the hometown of President Rodrigo "Rody" Duterte.

Brigadier General Arnel dela Vega, the chief of the Joint Task Force Sulu, said the slain krazed killer was among the eight heavily gunnies who clashed with an elite team of Army Scout Rangers in a village in the town of Indanan at dawn on Sunday.

Dela Vega said the clash occurred when a team of Scout Rangers was sent to check on the complaint of residents regarding the presence of eight heavily armed Abu Sayyaf turbans in their village.

When they fled, the turbans left behind their slain comrade along with an M16 assault rifle to which was attached a grenade launcher as well as an improvised bomb, Dela Vega said.

The killing brought to 37 the total corpse count suffered by the Abu Sayyaf since Duterte ordered the military in July to launch an intensified "search and destroy" operation against the Abu Sayyaf who operate with impunity on the island provinces of Sulu and Basilan
...Basilan is a rugged, jungle-covered island in the southern Philippines. It is a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, bandidos, and maybe even orcs. Most people with any sense travel with armed escorts...
A total of 15 soldiers were also killed with 28 others maimed, Dela Vega said as he vowed: "The focused military operation will continue until we deal a crippling blow to the Abu Sayyaf and rescue their remaining hostages."

Regional and Filipino security experts have confirmed the link of the Abu Sayyaf to the global Al Qaeda terror network through the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah murderous Moslems.

...back at the palazzo, Count Guido stepped from behind the suit of armor, rapier in hand. Ciccolini snarled and reached for his own weapon...
Colonel Benjamin Hao, the Army front man, reported the arrest of four other suspects in the deadly on Sept.2 terrorist bombing of a night market in Davao City that killed at least 15 people and maimed 68 others.

Hao said the suspects were members of the Dawla Islamiya Fi Cotabato-Maute Group, a criminal organization that claims to have links with the ISIS faceless myrmidons in the Middle East and the Abu Sayyaf.

The suspects, Hao said, were tossed in the slammer
Don't shoot, coppers! I'm comin' out!
in separate raids in Cotabato City that also resulted in the confiscation of several short firearms and hand grenades based on search warrants issued by a regional court.

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2016-10-21 Southeast Asia
[NST.MY] A factory clerk's strong curiosity about terrorist groups and possession of terror-related items has landed her in jail for two years.

Rafidah Juma'at, 26, who was clad in all black, admitted to committing the offence before High Court judge Datuk Mohamad Shariff Abu Samah today.

In his judgement, Mohamad Shariff said even though no evidence proved that the accused has any intention of joining a terror group, keeping books and photos linked to bully boyz shows that the accused is a supporter of terrorists.

"You have to be careful. You have a family and whenever you feel like you want to join in the fight, please remember their faces.

"If you really want to fight, fight for your family members first or for our friends in Baitul Maqdis," Mohamad Shariff said.

He ordered Rafidah's jail sentence to run from the date of her arrest on March 24.

The accused was charged on June 8 at the Seri Manjung magistrate's court in Perak for having in her possession items related to terrorism at a house in Taman Bistari, Air Tawar, on March 24, this year. The terror-related items were linked to murderous Moslem groups Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
(IS), al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). She was charged under Section 130JB(1)(a) of the Penal Code which carries a jail term of not more than seven years or a fine.

In pleading for leniency, Rafidah's counsel, PA Sharon, said her client, who is the fourth child out of seven siblings, is supporting her mother and younger siblings.

"She had no intention of being exposed to the terrorist group... it was just her strong curiosity to know about what was happening.

"Now she wants to become a better person and intends to continue working at a concrete production factory to support and care for her mother and younger siblings, as she is the one who has been taking care of them before she was tossed in the calaboose
Drop the heater, Studs, or you're hist'try!
," Sharon said.
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2016-10-20 Southeast Asia
[FRONTERANEWS] Abu Bakar Ba’asyir personifies the changing shape of terrorism in Southeast Asia.

The surviving co-founder of Indonesia’s local Jemaah Islamiyah jihadist movement, Ba’asyir has denied any personal ties with the late Osama bin Laden
... who is now neither a strong horse nor a weak horse, but a dead horse...
. Yet he also openly voiced support for the dead Al Qaeda leader and his group has collaborated closely on training.
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2016-09-25 Home Front: WoT
[THEMALAYMAILONLINE] Mohamad Bashir Lap, one of the two Malaysians being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp may be transferred to Malaysia but he will have to continue to undergo the deradicalisation process in prison, said Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said this information was conveyed to him during the meeting he had on Wednesday with Lee Wolowsky, the United States Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure.

"This possibility is in tandem with our efforts to bring home the Malaysian detainees in Guantanamo Bay," Ahmad Zahid, who is also the home minister, told Malaysian journalists yesterday.

Ahmad Zahid had led the Malaysian delegation to the 71st session of the United Nations
...an organization originally established to war on dictatorships which was promptly infiltrated by dictatorships and is now held in thrall to dictatorships...
General Assembly here.

Mohamad Bashir and Mohd Farik Amin are the two Malaysians being held at Guantanamo Bay detention camp since 2006 for their involvement with the Jemaah Islamiyah holy warrior group in early 2000.

They are also alleged to have been involved in the bombing at the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in 2003 and were detained in Bangkok that year.

Ahmad Zahid said the US Periodic Review Board, by consensus, determined that "continued law of war detention of the detainees remains necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States".

Caliphornia hasn't yet slid into the ocean, no matter how hard it's tried...
the United States has informed of the possibility of one of them (Mohamad Bashir) being sent back to Malaysia, but he has to continue to undergo the deradicalisation process," he said.

As such, Ahmad Zahid said, a high-level committee under his chairmanship would be established immediately pertaining to the matter.

The committee would comprise representatives from the Home Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Defence Ministry, National Security Council, Attorney-General's Chambers, Royal Malaysia Police, Prisons Department and Immigration Department, he added.

- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/zahid-one-malaysian-detainee-at-guantanamo-bay-may-be-sent-home#sthash.aFUTK0lU.dpuf
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2016-09-20 Southeast Asia
[MB.PH] Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno said on Saturday that authorities are hunting down at least four suspects responsible for the September 2 kaboom in Davao City that killed 14 people and maimed more than 70 others.

Sueno said the suspects are said to be members of a local Islamic myrmidon group which had links with slain Indonesian terrorist Bin Hir Zulkifli alias Marwan who was killed in a police commando raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 2014.

Sueno graced the Project Duterte tennis tournament here organized by the Police Regional Office-12 and Sultan Kudarat Gov. Pax Mangudadatu.

He said the suspects in the Davao Bombing were among those local bully boyz trained by Marwan on bomb making.

Marwan, the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, Islamic Death Eaters terror network in Southeast Asia, fled to Mindanao in 2010 where he conducted trainings to members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters
...a MILF splinter group aligned with the Islamic State...
, a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Sueno said authorities are also investigating the involvement of some narco- politicians in the Davao kaboom.
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2016-09-06 Southeast Asia
[RAPPLER] Although the government declared a state of lawlessness, authorities have released little concrete information about the kaboom that killed at least 14 people in Davao City’s night market Friday, September 2, 2016.

On Saturday morning, September 3, radio station DZMM said the Abu Sayyaf
...also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya, an Islamist terror group based in Jolo, Basilan and Zamboanga. Since its inception in the early 1990s, the group has carried out bombings, kidnappings, murders, head choppings, and extortion in their uniquely Islamic attempt to set up an independent Moslem province in the Philippines. Abu Sayyaf forces probably number less than 300 cadres. The group is closely allied with remnants of Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiya and has loose ties with MILF and MNLF who sometimes provide cannon fodder...
grabbed credit for the blast in an interview with a self-proclaimed front man for Al Harakatul Al Islamiyah, the formal name used by the Abu Sayyaf.
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2016-09-01 Southeast Asia
[JAPANTIMES.CO.JP] During a May 2011 shootout, Indonesia’s counterterrorism forces killed the leader of a Death Eater group thought to be behind a series of failed bomb attempts around the city of Solo in Central Java.

The death of Team Hisbah founder Sigit Qurdowi caused the group to splinter. Some formed an anti-vice squad in the city; many others became associated with a former Solo resident called Bahrun Naim, who authorities believe is a leading Indonesian coordinator for the Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....

Now, five years later, Naim, based in the IS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria, is building an ever-more-sophisticated network of bandidos forces of Evil from his former hometown, according to police, self-proclaimed murderous Moslems and people who work with the bandidos forces of Evil in Solo.

Solo, which has a long history of schools and mosques associated with radical Islamists, is a breeding ground for Naim’s recruits, counterterrorism officials say, and many of his lieutenants in Indonesia have come from Team Hisbah.

As a result, authorities fear the risk of a major attack in Indonesia is growing.

Islamist militancy in the world’s most populous Moslem-majority nation has been contained since a crackdown on Jemaah Islamiyah -- al-Qaeda’s franchise in the region -- put hundreds of its leaders and followers behind bars in the mid-2000s.

But like al-Qaeda before it, IS is reviving a fragmented radical Islamist movement in Indonesia that has endured in various incarnations for the past century, authorities say.

Nearly $800,000 has been transferred from foreign countries to fund radical Islamist groups in Indonesia since 2014, officials from Indonesia’s financial transactions watchdog said at an international counterterrorism conference in Bali in mid-August. It wasn’t clear how much money has come from Naim, who police say is now Indonesia’s most-wanted Death Eater.

Rooters contacted a man identified as Naim last November on the Telegram app, using details provided by one of his acquaintances. In that exchange, Naim said IS had "enough men in Indonesia to carry out an action, more than enough support. Just waiting for the right trigger." Rooters could not independently verify the man’s identity or his assertions.

Amir Mahmud, a former Afghan-trained mujahedeen, started the Islamic State Supporters Forum in Solo -- a city also known as Surakarta -- in July 2014 to "accommodate the development" of a jihadi movement in Indonesia.

Around 2,000 people showed up to one of its first gatherings at the Baitul Makmur Mosque, where many backed an Islamist caliphate in the Middle East, he said.

"This is a spontaneous spiritual calling," said Mahmud, who is also an Islamic university lecturer. "Islamic State is a booming movement."

Mahmud said two of his sons left Indonesia to fight for IS in the Middle East, and one has been killed.

Indonesia does not prohibit citizens from supporting groups such as IS or fighting for them abroad. Police say they can arrest terrorism suspects only once they have committed a crime on Indonesian soil.

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2016-08-23 Southeast Asia
[NST.MY] The Malaysian government has urged the Guantanamo Prison's Periodic Review Board to reject an appeal for the release of former Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) Lion of Islam leader Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali, as he could still pose a security threat in Southeast Asia.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohammed said that Hambali was a former Lion of Islam group leader who may still have strong influence over the group's remnants in this region and could spur a resurgence of the JI Lion of Islam activities, particularly in Malaysia.

"The Lion of Islam JI group may still have followers and they may be waiting for Hambali's release to revive the movement, although it was mopped out some 10 years ago.

"This is a matter of national security and great priority should be given to this. These factors should outweigh the release of a placed in durance vile
Book 'im, Mahmoud!
man who is capable to train anyone into a radical soldier," said Nur Jazlan after a working visit to the Home Ministry Complex in Taman Setia Tropika, today.

He said although Hambali was from Indonesia, the man had been residing in Malaysia for many years in the past and was involved in recruiting new JI members, including at a former base camp in Ulu Tiram, here.

Hambali is one of 61 detainees at the Guantanamo facility in Cuba where high-value detainees and bandidos bully boyz are held.
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2016-08-20 Terror Networks
[HUMANRIGHTSFIRST.ORG] Yesterday, Gitmo detainee Encep Nurjaman, better known by his alias, "Hambali," appeared before the Periodic Review Board (PRB) for the first time to advocate for his release. One of 15 remaining "high-value" detainees, Hambali has been consistently referred to in both national and international media as the "Bin Laden of Indonesia."

According to the Senate intelligence committee’s torture report, he was considered "the CIA's ’number one target’ in Southeast Asia" shortly after the 9/11 attacks. The Indonesian government recently stated it considers it too great a danger for Hambali to return to the country. However,
a good lie finds more believers than a bad truth...
his representatives describe him as a "respectful and energetic" man, who "wants nothing more than to move on with his life and be peaceful."
A mistranslation of the Arabic. He wishes submission, not peace... and that submission is to Islam, not to a secular government in opposition to it.
The U.S. government alleges that Hambali's involvement in terrorism dates back to the 1980s, when he first began training as a jihadist in Afghanistan. From there, he purportedly branched out to participate in violent jihad across Southeast Asia.

The U.S. government believes that Hambali was involved in the 2000 Christmas Eve attacks, a series of bombings in churches across eight cities in Indonesia carried out by al Qaeda and the Indonesian group Jemaah Islamiyah. He allegedly helped plan the Bali bombings in 2002, which killed 202 and injured 209 more.

The government also alleges that in 2003 Hambali facilitated al Qaeda’s financing for the bombing of the Jakarta Marriott Hotel, which killed 12 people and injured 150. It also believes Hambali was involved in planning post-9/11 attacks against U.S. interests and that he provided a microbiologist to al Qaeda to assist it in developing an anthrax program.

Hambali was captured in 2003 and arrived at Guantanamo Bay in 2005. Despite the serious allegations against him, he has never been charged with a crime.
That's because all those activities are acts of war by non-uniformed, non-state actors for the purpose of replacing existing governments around the world with Islamic rule, not criminal activities on American soil for the purpose of revenge or material gain.
Hambali is featured prominently in the Senate’s torture report, which notes he had been cooperative in response to "standard" interrogation techniques, but when subjected to so-called "enhanced interrogation" methods, Hambali "provided the false information in an attempt to reduce the pressure on himself ... and to give an account that was consistent with what [Hambali] assessed the questioners wanted to hear." The report also states that an interrogator said to Hambali: "We can never let the world know what I have done to you."

Although Hambali’s personal representatives said he "has no ill will toward the U.S.," and the government described him as "mostly compliant," it also asserted that Hambali "remains steadfast in his support for Death Eater causes and his hatred for the US," and "has been heard promoting violent jihad while leading daily prayers and lectures."

There are currently 61 detainees still at Guantanamo, with 20 cleared for release. Four detainees are still eligible for their first PRB hearing and nine are waiting on decisions. The Obama Administration has stated that it plans to complete all initial PRB hearings and transfer all cleared detainees by this fall.
What is the recidivism rate? How many of those released have looked up their old jihadi friends or found new ones?
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2016-08-07 Southeast Asia
[BOSTONHERALD] Indonesia's counter-terrorism police on Friday jugged
Book 'im, Mahmoud!
six suspected turbans who were allegedly planning to launch a rocket attack on downtown Singapore from nearby Batam island.

The Indonesian men were captured Friday on the Indonesian island, which is about 25 kilometers (15 miles) southeast of Singapore, said National Police front man Maj. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar.

He said the arrests, which included the 31-year-old alleged leader of the group, highlight the continued threat posed by snuffies in Indonesia despite a sustained crackdown by authorities.

"We have strong indications that the six men were planning to launch a rocket at Singapore's Marina Bay from Batam," Amar said. He would not confirm whether an actual rocket had been found in the police raid.

Marina Bay is a busy area close to the heart of Singapore's downtown filled with office towers, waterside eateries and tourist attractions, including one of Asia's biggest casinos.

Amar said all the men claimed they were members of Katibah Gigih Rahmat, a little-known Death Eater group that helps Indonesian turbans travel to Syria. Police believe it has received funds from Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian fighting with the Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
group in Syria.

Naim has been linked to a succession of poorly executed attacks in Indonesia, including a suicide kaboom outside police headquarters in the city of Solo last month that killed the bomber.

Singapore state media reported that local authorities were aware of the rocket plot.

The Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement that Singapore's security agencies had coordinated with Indonesia to monitor the activities of the group and apprehend those involved.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Moslem nation, suffered a spate of deadly attacks by members of the Jemaah Islamiyah murderous Moslem network, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

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2016-08-01 Southeast Asia
[Gulf Today] Singapore said on Friday it has detained an Australia-based Singaporean who allegedly glorified Daesh. Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff is being held under the Internal Security Act for being a threat to national security, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement.

"Zulfikar has made use of social media to propagate and spread his radical messages," the statement said in announcing his arrest this month.

Zulfikar's posts led to the radicalization of two other Singaporeans, a businessman and a security guard, the ministry said.

Zulfikar moved to Australia with his family in 2002. It is not clear why he returned to Singapore.

Zulfikar had also been supportive of terror groups like Al-Qaeda and its Southeast Asian affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah, according to the ministry. In Australia, he joined the Hizbut Tahrir while keeping in contact with radical imams and making "numerous Facebook postings glorifying and promoting the Daesh group," it added.

He set up a Facebook page called Al-Makhazin Singapore which he used as a platform to "agitate on Muslim issues" with a "real agenda" to replace Singapore's government with a Daesh state.

Following recent terror strikes worldwide, Singapore's leaders have renewed warnings that an attack on the country, is not a matter of if but when.
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2016-07-27 Southeast Asia
[THESTAR.MY] KLANG: Two men have been charged in a magistrate’s court here with being involved in terrorism activities.

No pleas were recorded from Mohmad Zaini Mohmad Isa, 31, and Roshelmyzan Husain, 31, who nodded to indicate they understood the charges read out to them before magistrate Nor Asma Ahmad.

Mohmad Zaini is alleged to have provided support to the Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
krazed killer group in Telok Gadong Kecil, Jalan Yadi here, between March 25 and June 30 this year.

The charge under Section 130J(1)(a) of the Penal Code carries a maximum jail sentence of 30 years or a fine upon conviction.

He is also accused of harbouring Junios Ondie@ Jahali from arrest despite being aware that the latter could have committed a terrorist act.

For this, he is charged under Section 130K(a) of the Penal Code and faces a possible life sentence.

Roshelmyzan allegedly solicited support for the terrorist group through the Telegram app between March 25 and June 29.

He is also accused of possessing Islamic State krazed killer paraphernalia in Port Klang on June 29. He could be tossed in the calaboose
Yez got nuttin' on me, coppers! Nuttin'!
seven years for this.

The court fixed Sept 7 for mention pending transfer of the case to the High Court. Deputy public prosecutor Syed Farid Syed Ali appeared for the prosecution while the men were unrepresented.

In Kuala Lumpur, a Master’s student in Islamic Studies at a public higher education institution claimed trial in the High Court to possession of 12 publications related to terrorism.

Siti Noor Aishah Atam, 29, allegedly had in her possession, books on Jemaah Islamiyah, Islamic State and al-Qaeda in Dungun, Tereng­ganu, at 12.25pm on March 22.

Judicial commissioner Datuk Mohamad Shariff Abu Samah set three days for trial from Sept 5.

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2016-07-26 Southeast Asia
[THESTAR.MY] All the 15 Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
-linked snuffies enjugged
Drop the rosco, Muggsy, or you're one with the ages!
over the kaboom at the Movida Nightclub in Puchong, including the two coppers, were from Kedah.

In fact, 30 arrested snuffies were from the northern state, which was also the base for former PAS leader and Internal Security Act detainee Mohd Lotfi Ariffin who died while fighting in Syria on Sept 14, 2014.

Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division head Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ayob Khan said they were aware of the fact but insisted the state was not a factor.

"Unlike Jemaah Islamiyah, the IS spread their teachings through social media.

"They rely less on usra (talks) and more on technology to communicate and indoctrinate their followers," he told The Star yesterday.

While the JI elements were mainly operating from Johor, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Sabah, SAC Ayob revealed that IS recruitment was much more widespread.

Since 2013, Perak has the most number of arrested snuffies at 33.

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2016-07-20 Southeast Asia
[Nikkei Asian Review] Indonesian police have confirmed the death the country's most-wanted terrorist with links to Daesh only a week after a new police chief was sworn in. Santoso, also known as Abu Wardah, had been in hiding for several years in the jungles of Poso district, Central Sulawesi Province, before he and another gunman were gunned down during a joint operation by police and the military on Monday afternoon.

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said on Tuesday afternoon, "I've just received information that the fingerprint matches an old one of [Santoso]. He had been detained before, so we can conclude 100% that the dead person was Santoso."

The other rebel killed was identified as one of Santoso's followers.

Santoso, 40, was the commander of the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT), which became the most prominent terror group in the country after police mostly managed to incapacitate Jemaah Islamiyah. JI, the Southeast Asian counterpart of al-Qaida, was responsible for large-scale terror attacks in Indonesia in the 2000s, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. JI targeted Western establishments, but MIT became known for its series of attacks targeting police officers and police facilities in 2012.

Santoso was a former seller of Islamic books who was inspired by Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, a firebrand cleric and spiritual leader of JI currently detained in an Indonesian prison. His group had been holding paramilitary training for local militants in Poso jungles ,even before Santoso pledged his allegiance to Daesh in 2014. Santoso proclaimed himself the local Daesh "commander" in Indonesia in a video uploaded to YouTube in 2015. Santoso had been on the police's wanted list since 2007.

Apart from dozens of other MIT militants still hiding in the jungles of Poso, there are other terror cells in the nation operating independently, such as one led by a man called Bahrun Naim. Naim, who is believed to have joined Daesh in Syria, allegedly orchestrated a terror attack in Jakarta in January that killed eight people.
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2016-07-19 Southeast Asia
[RAPPLER] Indonesia's most wanted terrorist may have been killed after a shootout between the murderous Moslem Mujahidin Indonesia Timur
....the 'Holy Warriors of East Indonesia.' An umbrella group active in the Poso area of Sulawesi. They are headed by Shaykh Abu Wardah, aka Santoso who calls himself the Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi of Indonesia. Every once in awhile they chop somebody's head off or blow something up, but other than that they're not much of a threat to civilization as we know it..
(MIT or East Indonesia Mujahideen) and task force Tinombala.

Santoso, alias Abu Wardah, who leads MIT, is believed to be one of those who died on Monday, July 18. MIT has pledged allegiance to ISIS and has grabbed credit for past terror attacks.

Central Sulawesi Police Chief, who also serves as head of Tinombala Task Force, Brigadier General Rudy Sufahriadi was not willing to confirm the death just yet, but he confirmed a gunbattle ensued.

"Our members were involved in a gun fight. Two men died," he told Rappler, adding they retrieved an M16.

The bodies have been brought back for identification.

Sufahriadi did say however that some characteristics fit that of Santoso's.

"We do not know the identities. Our members said one had a mole on the cheek. Santoso has a mole," he said.

Earlier, former police chief, Gen. Badrodin Haiti said the distance between the members of the task force group and that of Santoso's was only a few kilometers, but forests are dense in Poso where the fight took place.

If Santoso was indeed one of the casualties, his death would be a success for the country's counterterrorism efforts as police and military have tried for many years to find him.

The threat posed by ISIS in Southeast Asia is comparatively small, but real, and it has the potential to become larger if not addressed properly. It is clear that ISIS reinvigorated existing terror networks in the region.

In the region, the center is Indonesia, the world’s 3rd largest democracy with more than 250 million people, the lynchpin of Southeast Asia. It also has the world’s largest Moslem population and has suffered the deadliest terrorist attacks in the region since the Bali bombings in 2002.

They were carried out by Jemaah Islamiyah and its offshoot groups, homegrown gunnies with funding, training and inspiration from al-Qaeda. Its latest incarnation is ISIS.

Since January, two bombings have taken place in Indonesia, at least one of which has been claimed by ISIS.
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2016-07-10 Southeast Asia
[Manila Times] Indonesian and Malaysian militants have joined the Abu Sayyaf in fighting Philippine security forces in Basilan province in the Muslim autonomous region.

Abu Sayyaf chieftain Isnilon Hapilon is now the leader of Daesh's new battalion in the Philippines, the Katibah Al-Muhajir or the "Battalion of Migrants" comprised mostly of Indonesian and Malaysian jihadists. Malaysian media quoted Singapore-based terror expert Rohan Gunaratna as saying that the new battalion in Basilan was set up because of difficulties faced by Daesh recruits in going to Iraq and Syria.

Gunaratna was quoted as saying, "Now we have seen that in the Philippines, IS has created Katibah Al-Muhajir, the Battalion of Migrants. They are (made up of) Malaysians and Indonesians. There are about ten Malaysians (there now)."

Last month, Daesh released a video telling its Southeast Asian supporters to head to the Philippines if they found it difficult to come to Iraq and Syria. Gunaratna said, "The Philippines can be a very important launching pad to reach Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore because southern Philippines is very centrally located."

The Philippine military hasn't confirmed the new Daesh battalion, but security forces had previously killed several foreign jihadis in Basilan. Basilan province has reportedly become the center of power of the Abu Sayyaf after it pledged allegiance to the caliph of Daesh and named Hapilon as its new chieftain. Hapilon, alias Abu Abdullah, took over from Abu Sayyaf founder Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani who was killed in a police shootout in December 1998.

In a video released by the Abu Sayyaf late last year, more than two dozen gunmen, including children, led by Hapilon were shown hiking in the Basilan hinterlands of Basilan while chanting "Dawlah Islamiyah (Islamic State)" and reciting an Arabic vow of allegiance.

In the video, Hapilon was shown with Abu Harith Al-Filibbieni, reportedly the deputy commander of al-Ansar Infantry Division of Daesh, and Mohd Najib Husen (Hussein), alias Abu Annas Al Muhajir, a division head of the Ansar al-Sharia of Daesh. Husen was with other Malaysian jihadis – Mahmud Ahmad, Muhammad Joraimee Awang Raimee, Amin Baco and Jeknal Adil.

The militants explained in the video that they had previously done the bayah, but did it again in front of their new leaders. It is not known when the video was recorded, but it was released just after the military claimed in December that Husen was slain during operations in Basilan.

In Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur provinces, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Ansarul Khilafah also pledged allegiance to Daesh. Militants in Indonesia and Malaysia, including the Jemaah Islamiyah, have also done the same.

The jihadists also released a video of the Daesh's Alhayat Media Center which shows the Philippines as among countries in Southeast Asia they were planning to expand its 'caliphate'.

The Abu Sayyaf is now using the Daesh flag and also the Khilafah Islamiyah Movement and other radical groups in Lanao del Sur where local militants of the Ghuraba (Strangers) – both the Ghuraba and Khilafah Islamiyah Movement are led by a militant named Humam Abdul Najid, who was implicated in the 2013 Cagayan de Oro City bombings.

The Ghuraba is reportedly harboring foreign rebels, including an agent of the Jamaat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, a group believed to be the original name of Daesh.
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2016-06-30 Southeast Asia
[ENGLISH.ALARABIYA.NET] In the heart of Solo city, not far from the Islamic boarding school founded by the radical holy man who inspired the 2002 Bali bombings, the staff of an unremarkable-looking restaurant prepare for another day serving the humble staples of the Indonesian diet to hungry locals.

The manager, a slightly built man with quick lively gestures, darts about the narrow kitchen, dropping ingredients into sizzling hot pans to make the bistik and other fare that customers including the local police crave. With a wife and two children to support, he also runs a car hire business and a laundry service on the side.

One of the millions of small-time business owners that keep the world’s most populous Moslem nation ticking, 40-year-old Mahmudi Haryono is also a poster boy for the transformation of a bomb maker and Death Eater into a productive member of society.

To be sure, his extensive Death Eater history doesn’t inspire easy trust. It includes being a combatant with the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines for three years, where he honed bomb making skills, and fighting in sectarian conflicts between Moslems and Christians in Indonesia. He was nabbed
Drop the rod and step away witcher hands up!
less than a year after the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people and convicted of hiding materials used to make the bombs.

"The fact is that I trained in the Philippines as a Jihadi fighter to defend Moslems and I did jihad only when Moslems were oppressed in conflict regions. It was part of my past," Haryono said in an interview. "Today, my priority in life is taking care of my family and business and preaching a path to help reform radical inmates."

A private foundation has worked intensively with Haryono since his release from prison in 2009, and holds him up as an example of how hardened holy warriors can be reformed. The need for such success stories is great in Indonesia, where several hundred men imprisoned for terrorism offenses have been paroled in the past several years, including 97 last years alone.

Since 2002, Indonesian authorities, with US and Australian help, have vastly improved their intelligence gathering and counterterrorism operations. The imprisonment of nearly 800 holy warriors and the killing of more than 100 in raids have weakened the groups under the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah network responsible for the Bali tragedy and dozens of other plots and attacks.

But efforts to de-radicalize holy warriors in prison have been less successful, partly because ISIS inspires them to hold to extremism. Two perpetrators of the ISIS-inspired Jan. 14 suicide kaboom in the Indonesian capital had been released from prison shortly before the attack.

"We have to admit the de-radicalization programs by the non-state groups, and the government, are not enough," said Taufik Andrie, executive director of Yayasan Prasasti Perdamaian, an institute that helps paroled holy warriors and established the restaurant where Haryono works and now owns a stake in.

Andrie estimates that 40 percent of the more than 400 holy warriors released as of December last year returned to their radical networks.

He said some of those people may want a normal life, but few Indonesians want to employ them, or even have them living in their neighborhoods. Back in their radical circles, they would be welcomed as heroes.

"When they are released, they are on their own. For them, society is a second prison because of the stigmatization," Andrie said.

In the Solo neighborhood of Ngruki, former Death Eater Joko Purwanto, who uses the alias Handzollah, said he has slowly gained acceptance from the devout Moslem community that shunned him when he was released from prison two years ago.

The village of narrow lanes and tightly packed houses is dotted with shops selling hijabs and famously is home to the fundamentalist Al Mukmin Islamic boarding school founded by Abu Bakar Bashir
... Leader of the Indonesian Mujahedeen Council and proprietor of the al-Mukmin madrassah in Ngruki. The spriritual head of Jemaah Islamiya, which he denies exists. Bashir was jugged and then released in the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings, which he blamed on a conspiracy among the U.S., Israel, and Australia ...
, the aging spiritual leader of the Bali bombers, who is now languishing in prison for his role in funding a Death Eater training camp in Aceh.

Handzollah, a former student at Al Mukmin, fought alongside Haryono and was arrested in a 2010 raid on Bashir’s training camp. After his release, he said, neighbors ignored his greetings, and at the mosque a worshipper called him a terrorist who should be ostracized.

"I responded by doing good," the 41-year-old said. "I didn’t avoid them. Instead I tried to approach mainstream society.

"Gradually, they realized that I’ve changed."

Nowadays, Handzollah is popular as a preacher and often travels. Numerous children from two wives are supported by one wife’s business making snack foods for restaurants and shops.

He now says violent holy warriors is not justifiable within Indonesia because Moslems aren’t under attack. In common with other parolees, he denounces ISIS for killing Moslems who reject its extreme interpretation of Islam.

"What I did in the past was a mistake. Many tenets of Islam were violated to do jihad, by doing bombing attacks in peaceful places like hotels, markets or other public areas that killed innocent people," he said.

Prized for his skill in repairing weapons, Handzollah said ISIS supporters have attempted to recruit him since he left prison. He said he has persuaded at least 10 young men not to travel to Syria to join the ISIS group.

Like Haryono and other former Jemaah Islamiyah holy warriors interviewed by The News Agency that Dare Not be Named, he still believes Indonesia should be governed by Islamic Shariah law, not a secular government, but says that goal should be achieved through peaceful methods.

Yet Handzollah does not unequivocally rule out a return to militancy.

"Of course the ideology of jihad remains inside me, because it’s part of Islam," he said. "I believe in Shariah law and an Islamic state, so, if someone is able to convince me with certain arguments - but this is very unlikely to me now - it may make me go back" to violence.

For those who support de-radicalization efforts, Handzollah represents a form of success but also underlines a dilemma for the government: Will doing more to support released holy warriors join mainstream society help prevent future attacks, or provide the cover for holy warriors to rebuild and plot?

Brig. Gen. Hamidin, director of prevention at Indonesia’s counterterrorism agency, said there are limits to what the government can do. It can’t provide former bully boyz small-business loans, for example, since that could create a perception there’s a financial incentive for terrorism, he said. Instead, it plans to mentor released holy warriors and help them get national ID cards, which are needed to apply for jobs, opening bank accounts and conducting other essential tasks.

Hamidin, who uses one name, says the government already has had some success. Government figures show that less than 10 percent of released holy warriors have been re-arrested or killed in anti-terrorism operations. He concedes, however, that the number who returned to radicalism is much higher.

The recidivism figure doesn’t include those who joined ISIS in Syria, for instance. It’s not illegal for Indonesians to join conflicts abroad, though Parliament is considering a revamped law.

Andrie, from the institute, said it has been successful with most of the 30 men it has been involved with in the past five years. It finds ways to draw individuals into their communities and focuses on persuading them to repudiate violence, rather than trying to try change core beliefs such as support for a caliphate.

The group has learned on the job, including from its mistakes.

In one case, a paroled Death Eater was provided with $500 to start a T-shirt business. Soon the group discovered the venture had failed, partly because the business didn’t engage the man with regular people.

As for the T-shirts? They were emblazoned with either the face of the late Osama bin Laden
... who used to be alive but now he's not...
or an AK-47 and given away within the man’s radical circle.
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2016-05-31 Southeast Asia
[AnNahar] Two Philippine soldiers were killed during festivities with Islamic Death Eaters trying to regain their base in a remote, mountainous region of the southern Philippines, the military said on Monday.

Ten soldiers were also maimed and about 2,000 residents displaced during the festivities with gunnies from the Maute group which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....

General Gerardo Barrientos, commander of the division overseeing the offensive, said the group was believed to have fewer than 100 fighters, but had been a continued threat in the area even after losing their headquarters in February.
Security officials told AFP the operation against the Maute group in the small Muslim-populated farming town of Butig in Lanao del Sur province began on Wednesday and was continuing.

The offensive was launched after the Death Eaters moved back into territory that the military secured during deadly festivities in February, they said.

"They came back to their camp and we were not able to prevent it because our troops were deployed to other areas," said Colonel Roseller Murillo, the military chief with responsibility for the area.

Murillo said soldiers had to leave the area to provide security elsewhere for the national elections on May 9.

He said, based on intelligence reports, about 37 Death Eaters were believed to have been killed. But he said no bodies had been recovered and AFP could not independently verify the corpse count.

General Gerardo Barrientos, commander of the division overseeing the offensive, said the group was believed to have fewer than 100 fighters, but had been a continued threat in the area even after losing their headquarters in February.

He said the military launched the latest offensive after the Death Eaters bombed power transmission towers, and kidnapped and beheaded two workers at a local sawmill in April.

Barrientos said the Maute group was believed to have links with the Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, which carried out the 2002 bombings in the Indonesian holiday island of Bali, killing 202 people.
"The group intends to regain the area," Barrientos said.

The southern Philippines has been plagued by a Muslim separatist insurgency for over four decades, with the conflict leaving more than 120,000 dead.

President Benigno Aquino's outgoing administration secured a peace deal with the largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), but talks collapsed after parliament failed to pass a law that would have created a new Muslim autonomous region. MILF leaders have repeatedly warned that Muslim rebels frustrated at the setback could be lured into more extreme forms of resistance, and that the Islamic State group could establish a stronghold in the south.

The future of peace talks under incoming president Rodrigo Duterte is unclear. He has said he can secure peace by establishing a federal form of government, devolving power to the regions.

Barrientos said the Maute group was believed to have links with the Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, which carried out the 2002 bombings in the Indonesian holiday island of Bali, killing 202 people. Jemaah Islamiyah Death Eaters have had a long presence in the southern Philippines and have trained locals.
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2016-05-20 Southeast Asia
[Financial Times] An Islamist militant accused of funding the 2009 Jakarta suicide bombings has been selling advertising space on his website to international corporations including Citigroup, IBM and Microsoft using a service provided by Google.

Muhammad Jibril Abdul Rahman, known as the Prince of Jihad,
Presumably because of his raspberry beret.
is designated as a terrorist on US, EU, and UN sanctions lists and is subject to an asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo. He is a prominent member of Jemaah Islamiyah.

But his jihadi propaganda website, Arrahmah.com, has been making thousands of dollars by hosting advertisements from global companies. The ads were delivered to the website, which includes images of beheadings and hangings, by intermediaries including Google's AdSense, the biggest online ad network, which take a portion of the revenues.

There is no suggestion that the advertisers or Google knowingly funded a designated terrorist, a criminal offence in the US that carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison or a $1m fine.

After being contacted by the Financial Times, Google cancelled Arrahmah.com's account and advertisers asked to be removed from the site. However, ads for major western brands continue to appear on the site through other intermediaries.

Arrahmah.com illustrates the increasing sophistication of Islamist propaganda networks and the expanding range of funding sources they have been able to tap into. Large technology groups including Google, Twitter and Facebook have come in for criticism by security services in recent years for not doing enough to keep extremists off their platforms.

The website, which promotes its views in sections such as "Jihad Zone", attracts about 600,000 visits a month. Arrahmah.com discloses prominently that Abdul Rahman is its chief executive.

In 2010, Rahman was sentenced to five years in an Indonesian prison for concealing information related to the terrorist attacks at two prominent hotels in Jakarta, which killed seven people and wounded around 50.
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2016-05-11 Southeast Asia
[Channel News Asia] Convicted terrorist and Daesh advocate Aman Abdurrahman will be charged in June for planning the January 14 terror attack in Jakarta.

Tito Karnavian, chief of Indonesia's National Counter-Terrorism Agency, said Aman's involvement was clear. He said, "There is no difficulty (in establishing). There are already many witnesses that have been investigated."

Aman was earlier identified as the suspected mastermind in the Jakarta blasts, carried out by four members of a terror network. All four, along with four bystanders were killed in the bombings.

Aman was previously convicted for his role in setting up a Jemaah Islamiyah training camp in Aceh in 2009. The 44-year-old cleric is currently serving eight years in a maximum security prison in Central Java.

Tito said that Aman was supposed to be released from prison in 2018. On the impending charges, Tito said, "There is still time. There is no need to rush."
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2016-05-09 Southeast Asia
[Malay Mail] The kindergarten at the center of online fury over photographs showing plastic gun-toting kids in military fatigues has been on the police radar since last year.

Bukit Aman Special Branch director Datuk Seri Fuzi Harun said, "We have already been investigating the school from last year. If we find enough evidence that suggest such (militant) ideologies are being taught, we will move in on them," after the photographs shared by lawyer Siti Kassim were widely circulated on social media.

Fuzi said police were monitoring kindergartens across Malaysia to ensure they were not being used as training centers for child soldiers.

Checks revealed that several kindergarten teachers, one of whom works in the school implicated in the photographs, had uploaded the images onto Instagram. In her Facebook post, Siti, who is also an activist, alleged that the teachers were from a college in Terengganu, which she claimed was tied to Jemaah Islamiyah.

Apart from the picture of kids carrying toy guns, another photograph in the collection showed children dressed in full headscarves and holding the Palestinian flag.

In January, Fuzi had said that police managed to foil an attempt by Daesh to set up a child terrorist training center. He added that there were cases as far back as 2012, where parents brought their children to child terrorist training centers in Syria and Iraq.
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2016-05-02 Southeast Asia
[InterAksyon] Two still unidentified alleged members of a terrorist group that earlier claimed ties with Daesh were killed by an elite Philippine police unit Thursday in a remote village in Maasim, Sarangani Province. Police spokesman Wilben Mayor said the raid was carried out on a suspected hideout of the Ansar Khilafa Philippines (AKP) located in Sitio Bulat. The operation was carried out by a combined security force.

The AKP, led by a certain Mohammad Jaafar Sabiwang Maguid, alias 'Tokboy,' clashed with the lawmen at around 3 a.m. Thursday. Two of his followers were killed, with no casualties on the government side.

An initial report identified Maguid as the head of AKP in Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat area. He escaped during the encounter.

According to Mayor, Maguid and his men were able to escape from a clash on November 26, 2015, with government troops in Palimbang town in Sultan Kudarat. At least eight suspected AKP members were killed in that battle.

Mayor said the fatalities included a certain Ibrahim Sucipto Ibrahim Ali/Abu/Masud/Abu Muhammad/Huzaifa, an Indonesian National and who was a former leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah in Mindanao.
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2016-04-02 Southeast Asia
[BenarNews] The widow of an Indonesian who died in custody after being arrested as a suspected militant wants an autopsy to be done on his remains, but neighbors in her home village are trying to block that. Resistance is so strong in the Central Java village of Pogung, where her late husband is buried, have threatened to expel her or anyone else who supports her plan to exhume his remains in order to determine the cause of death.

Siyono, the widow's 34-year-old husband and father of five, was buried in a local graveyard, five days after his arrest by Densus 88, the Indonesian police counter-terror unit. Police suspected Siyono of being connected to a resurgent Jemaah Islamiyah.

Siyono's home province of Central Java is where Indonesian authorities recently arrested rebels during a nationwide crackdown that followed the January 14 terrorist attacks in Jakarta. Eight people, including four insurgents, died in the attacks – the first act of terrorism claimed by Daesh in Southeast Asia.
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2016-03-19 Southeast Asia
[Business Times] The threat of a terrorist attack in Singapore is at its "highest level" of late as a result of the rise of the Daesh militant group, Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam warned on Friday. He said the danger is even greater than in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the US and the arrest of Jemaah Islamiyah members here that year, and added that it was not a question of if, but when, an attack will take place.

Speaking to Home Team officers at an annual closed-door forum, he outlined a number of new initiatives to counter the terror threat, including the launching of a new national movement called SG Secure.

Shanmugam warned that the rise of Daesh has meant the threat has "increased significantly" to the point that it has morphed into a "large powerful monster".

"It is now a qualitatively different (and) much more dangerous threat. ISIS presents a far graver threat than (Al-Qaeda) or its affiliated entities ever did," he told his audience.

Shanmugam spoke of Daesh's intention to establish a caliphate in the region. As he mapped out a grim picture of the terror situation in Southeast Asia, he called Singapore a "prime target", with four possible types of threats: Attacks planned just outside Singapore, attacks involving weapons smuggled by Singaporeans or foreign militants, so-called "lone wolf" attacks by self-radicalized people, as well as those by foreign workers in Singapore who have become radicalized.
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2016-03-14 Southeast Asia
[AFP] Indonesia does not want one of its most notorious terrorists, Hambali, returned home should the United States close Guantanamo Bay detention center, according to a senior minister.

Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, was captured in Thailand in 2003 and spent the next three years being flown between secret prisons until his transfer to Gitmo. At the time of his capture Hambali, was thought to be Al-Qaeda's top operative in Southeast Asia and head of regional militant group Jemaah Islamiyah.

He was accused of masterminding the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, and plotting other attacks on U.S. airliners and foreigners.

Indonesian security minister Luhut Panjaitan said, "It's very clear that we do not want to add any more problems in our country," when asked about Hambali.

Panjaitan said an urgent revision of Indonesia's anti-terrorism laws is needed as authorities are currently powerless to stop would-be militants heading abroad to fight with extremist groups.

The government has submitted to parliament new draft measures to bolster Indonesia's fight against extremism, including broader powers to detain suspects. Panjaitan said, "This new terrorism law stipulates the state is authorised to revoke their citizenship if they join foreign fighters."
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2016-03-12 Southeast Asia
[AnNahar] Indonesia does not want one of the country's most notorious terrorists, Hambali, returned home should the United States close the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention center, a senior minister said Friday.

Riduan Isamuddin was captured in Thailand in 2003 and spent the next three years being flown between secret prisons until his transfer to Guantanamo, where he has been held without charge ever since.

At the time of his capture Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, was believed to be al-Qaeda's top representative in Southeast Asia and operational chief of regional hard boy group Jemaah Islamiyah.

He was accused of criminal masterminding the 2002 Bali bombings that left 202 people dead, and plotting other attacks on U.S. airliners and foreigners.

Hambali is one of 91 inmates still detained in the military prison, set up after the September 11, 2001 attacks to deal with prisoners deemed "enemy combatants", and denied many U.S. legal rights.

A roadmap to closing Guantanamo unveiled by President B.O. last month prompted speculation in Indonesia that Hambali could be repatriated, but Jakarta has made it clear it does want anything to do with the alleged terror kingpin.

"It's very clear that we do not want to add any more problems in our country," security minister Luhut Panjaitan told news hounds when asked about Hambali.

A sustained crackdown in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, weakened many of the most dangerous Lion of Islam networks responsible for a string of deadly homegrown attacks during the 2000s.

But an attack in Jakarta earlier this year claimed by the Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
group sparked fears of a resurgence in militancy, and shone the spotlight on the country's weak laws and lax jails where prominent Lions of Islam have been recruiting behind bars.

Panjaitan said an urgent revision of Indonesia's anti-terror laws was needed as authorities were currently powerless to stop would-be bully boyz heading abroad to fight with Lion of Islam groups.

The government has submitted to parliament new draft measures to bolster Indonesia's fight against extremism, including broader powers to detain suspects

"This new terrorism law stipulates the state is authorized to revoke their citizenship if they join imported muscle," he said.
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2016-02-28 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] Philippine security forces have killed dozens of Muslim militants and captured at least two camps in a nearly month-long offensive against insurgents in Mindanao.

Army spokesman Filemon Tan said that 42 militants from a group with ties to the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah were killed in clashes that began last Saturday. One of the rebe; bastions in Butig town in Lanao del Sur province fell on Thursday. Three soldiers were killed and 11 injured.

Last Saturday evening, about 80 militants led by brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute, said to be former associates of an Indonesian JI operative known only as Sanusi, who was killed in 2012, attacked a detachment of the 51st Infantry Battalion in Butig. Troops drove the rebels back, and the army counter-attacked with howitzers, bombers, helicopters and armored vehicles.

The Lanao del Sur clashes broke out just as the army was wrapping up a 24-day offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in neighboring Maguindanao province. A BIFF camp in Datu Salibo town fell on Sunday after intense battles that began on February 5.

Lieutenant-Colonel Ambrosio Rustia, head of the Army 57th Infantry Battalion, said hundreds of BIFF militants who held the camp had fled with their casualties deep into marshlands bordering Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces. The army reported that it lost three soldiers, one during operations to clear the BIFF camp of landmines.
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2016-01-31 Southeast Asia
[Inquirer] The $5 million price tag for the capture, dead or alive, of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, has caught the attention of experts in the aftermath of a tragic police operation to take him down in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, a year ago.

How the bounty affected the overall conduct of the operation is not clear. However, a Jakarta-based think-tank has urged a rethinking of the role of rewards in the war on terror. As with other terrorists, the bounty for Marwan's capture was put up by the U.S. Rewards for Justice program. The program is credited for aiding in the downfall of key Abu Sayyaf leaders. As of 2012, intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting said, more than $11 million in bounties had been paid out in the Philippines by the program.

The program's website listed as part of its success stories the capture of key Abu Sayyaf figures: Toting Craft Hanno, Khadaffy Janjalani (deceased), and Abu Solaiman and Hamsiraji Marusi Sali. It paid $100,000 for Hanno, $5 million for Janjalani, $5 million for Solaiman, and $1 million for Sali.

In a report, the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, said,"The huge bounties placed on the heads of foreign jihadis have helped to burnish their reputations as world-class terrorists, perhaps out of proportion to their actual roles. They encourage killing high-value targets rather than making any effort to arrest them alive."

In 2008, a Brussels-based think-tank warned about the distorting effect of monetary rewards in the drive against terrorists in the Philippines. In its report, the International Crisis Group noted that military informants "equate amount of bounty with the importance of the individual concerned."

It cited the case of Jemaah Islamiyah operatives Umar Patek and Dulmatin. Dulmatin, who reports to Umar Patek, commanded $10 million in reward for his capture while his boss only fetched $1 million.

The Rewards for Justice program now lists four terrorists in East Asia and the Pacific region whose capture merits its bounty. They are Isnilon Hapilon of Abu Sayyaf, up to $5 million; Radullan Sahiron of Abu Sayyaf, up to $1 million; and Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah operative Aris Sumarsono alias Zulkarnaen or Daud, up to $5 million. Abdul Basit Usman of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, who was killed last year, is still on the list, with a reward of up to $1 million.
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2016-01-26 Southeast Asia
[Rakyat Post] The Royal Malaysian Police have foiled six terrorist plots since last December.

Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said police uncovered the plots in a series of counter-terror operations. Following some arrests since last December, it was discovered that several terrorists in the country had begun collecting chemical substances which could be made into bombs, he told reporters after attending the International Conference on Deradicalization and Countering Violent Extremism today.

When asked about the video threat by the Daesh titled "Public Message for Malaysia", Ayob said the two men in the video had been confirmed to be Malaysian citizens who were now in Syria. He said that the individuals, known as Abdul Halid and Mohd Nizam, warned authorities against making more arrests and to release Daesh detainees.

According to reports, the Malaysian-Indonesian faction of Daesh, called Katibah Nusantara, exclaimed, "We will never bow down to the democratic system of governance as we will only follow Allah’s rules."

Ayob said this was the first time such a video had been released in Malay, featuring the Daesh logo, and this was evidence that the regional militants had joined forces and had direct links with Daesh. He said, "There is definitely a link, in fact the eight people we arrested earlier had links with our people there (in Syria)… and links with Bahrum Naim (founder of the Katibah Nusantara). There is a link. This is not a new thing. Since the Jemaah Islamiyah, there were links between regional and global (groups), which could be said to be organized. This is their way of expanding their network."
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2016-01-18 Southeast Asia
[Reuters] Last week’s attack on Jakarta showed for the first time that Daesh violence has arrived in Indonesia, but experts believe the group’s footprint still has limited influence here because militants are competing to be its regional leader.

Police have identified Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian based in Syria, as the mastermind of the attacks that left all five attackers and two civilians dead on Thursday. But perhaps the region's most influential jihadi is a jailed cleric, Aman Abdurrahman, who with just a few couriers and a cell phone is able to command around 200 followers from prison.

Abdurrahman sits at the head of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, an umbrella organization formed last year that experts believe could become the unifying force for Daesh supporters.

Police believe that Naim, an Abdurrahman supporter, was trying to prove his leadership skills to Daesh leaders in Syria by plotting the Jakarta attack. Jakarta police chief Tito Karnavian said Naim's vision was to unite now-splintered groups across Southeast Asia that support Daesh.

Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah was the last transnational group to successfully launch large-scale attacks in the region, including the 2002 Bali bombings. JI, founded by Indonesian and Malaysian militants who returned from battling the Soviet Union in the the 1980s and early 1990s, has largely fallen apart due to internal rivalries and a sustained crackdown by security forces. Regional governments fear that Malay-speaking militants returning from Syria and Iraq could form a similar regional organization.

In Malaysia, former university lecturer Mahmud Ahmad is thought to be behind recent attempts to unite militant groups, including the Abu Sayyaf, from three Southeast Asian countries.

Abdurrahman remains perhaps the weightiest contender for Daesh leadership in the region. While serving a 9-year prison term for funding a militant training camp in Indonesia, he has managed to encourage hundreds of Indonesians to join the jihad in Syria and Iraq.

Prison authorities have tried repeatedly to silence Abdurrahman. According to the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, ten phones were seized from his cell in September 2014, but just a month later he got hold of a new phone and his sermons to followers resumed.
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2016-01-15 India-Pakistan
[DAWN] THE complexity of the challenge confronting the Muslim world where dealing with religiously inspired militancy is concerned has been aptly demonstrated by a series of recent events. The latest crisis emerged in Jakarta, where elements linked to the Lion of Islam Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
group went on the rampage on Thursday. A news outlet connected to the group grabbed credit for the carnage, while Indonesian police also said they believed IS was behind the attacks. Meanwhile,
...back at the chili cook-off, Chuck reached for the green sauce...
on Wednesday, IS grabbed credit for the attack on the Pak consulate in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, while Turkish authorities said the individual responsible for the Istanbul bombing on Tuesday was an operative of the Lion of Islam group. These events show that nearly all Muslim states -- despite geographic, cultural and political differences -- are vulnerable to violent religious extremism.

It would be incorrect to assume that a monolithic IS is planning attacks in Muslim countries -- and elsewhere -- based in Syria. However,
a clean conscience makes a soft pillow...
what is entirely possible is that the so-called caliphate is inspiring fringe groups and individuals across the globe to act in its name, or in support of its cause. For example, in Indonesia IS doesn't actually need a physical presence; Lion of Islam groups such as Abu Sayyaf
...also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya, an Islamist terror group based in Jolo, Basilan and Zamboanga. Since its inception in the early 1990s, the group has carried out bombings, kidnappings, murders, head choppings, and extortion in their uniquely Islamic attempt to set up an independent Moslem province in the Philippines. Abu Sayyaf forces probably number less than 300 cadres. The group is closely allied with remnants of Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiya and has loose ties with MILF and MNLF who sometimes provide cannon fodder...
and Jemaah Islamiyah are ideologically on the same wavelength. Pakistain faces the same predicament: Al Baghdadi and his men do not need to be physically present to forward their agenda. There is a plethora of Lion of Islam and sectarian groups that are arguably still active and more than willing to carry the IS banner in Pakistain. The same can be said of nearly any Muslim country, where a variety of factors have led to the growth of home-grown radical movements.

Unfortunately, some Muslim states have either looked away as bully boy groups grew in size and strength in their backyards, while others have even used these as proxies in geopolitical conflicts. It is also true that most Muslim states -- both authoritarian set-ups and democracies -- have failed to deliver social, economic and political justice to their citizens, helping fuel the rise of radical movements, which want to destroy the 'system' and build it anew in their own image. In the immediate term, the Muslim bloc should realise that the war against extremism and terrorism is 'our' war. Firstly, there must be realisation within Muslim states that the Lion of Islam tide has to be confronted, without differentiation between 'good' and 'bad' Lion of Islams. Secondly, a pan-Islamic effort is needed to clamp down on militancy, which can be achieved through joint counterterrorism efforts. However,
a clean conscience makes a soft pillow...
any alliance built along sectarian or geopolitical lines is doomed to fail. Moreover, Western involvement in such an endeavour should be avoided for two reasons: to prevent turbans from portraying it as a 'war against Islam', and the fact that much of contemporary Islamist militancy has been fuelled by Western intervention and regime change in Muslim states.
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2016-01-14 Southeast Asia
[IBT-UK] The jailed spiritual leader of al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah has said that his sentence should be overturned because the funds he raised for a military-style training camp was an 'act of worship'. Caged cleric Abu Bakar Bashir appealed to have his conviction for funding a terrorist camp overturned because it was Allah's order.

During the hearing he argued that his aid for the camp was an 'act of worship' despite the militant network being accused of planning attacks on foreigners in Jakarta, and the assassinations of moderate leaders, including former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Jemaah Islamiyah were also blamed for the savage 2002 Bali bombings which claimed the lives of 202 people.

In 2011 Bashir was convicted of funding the militant training camp in Aceh province and jailed for 15 years. But a higher court later cut the sentence to nine years.

At the District Court in Cilacap, near the prison island of Nusakembangan where he is currently incarcerated, Bashir said that the camp was designed to defend Muslims. He said, "The physical and weapons' training in Aceh were aimed at defending Islam and Muslims in Indonesia and overseas, and were an obligation Muslims must fulfill because it is God's order. My deed of helping the physical training in Aceh was merely an act of worship."

A lawyer representing the cleric said that he knew the camp violated firearms laws but he was simply following Allah's orders in supporting it. He added that the funds were also for religious use.

Outside the court hundreds of supporters waited for a heavily-guarded Bashir to arrive. They yelled "Allah Akbar," "Bashir is not a terrorist" and "Free Bashir."
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2016-01-07 Southeast Asia
[Manila Times] The Philippine Army's 73rd Infantry Battalion based in Davao del Sur has begun pursuit operations to track down Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, the alleged leader of Ansar al-Khilafah (Supporters of the Caliphate) in the Philippines (AKP). He is believed to be in the hinterlands of Sarangani Province.

Colonel Ronnie Babac is leading the operation against Maguid and his close associate, identified as Limbo Jusin Pala. The two are top on the list of high-profile members of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) under its fallen leader Abdul Basit Usman. Maguid was tasked to continue the role of Usman and Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as "Marwan."

Maguid, alias Tokboy, who escaped from a four-hour firefight with security forces in the town of Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat on November 23, was reportedly on a mission to create large-scale violence in Central Mindanao.

The AKP has claimed affiliation with Daesh, whose presence in Mindanao was confirmed by a ranking military intelligence officer. Another source from Maguindanao said that Maguid directly trained under two Indonesian nationals who arrived in Mindanao three years ago. The Indonesians are reportedly training Daesh recruits organized by Maguid in undisclosed areas near the MILF camp. Their recruits are thought to be disgruntled MILF commanders who now strongly support Daesh in the region.

Maguid and Pala were also tagged as former cell leaders of the 3rd Battalion, Headquarters Brigade of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters’ (BIFF) inner defense group led by its regional field commander Ustadz Haun Salindatu.

Maguid, charged for attacks on the town center of Maasim, Sarangani in August 2008 that killed three people, was arrested in July 2009 but managed to escape from the Sarangani provincial jail in March 2010. Maguid is also facing a series of other charges including for a grenade attack in Maasim Town in June 2009; the murder of Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao's cousin Rogelio Pacquiao in July 2009; the killing of Maasim Vice Mayor Sawab Pangolima last October; and several other incidents.
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2015-12-29 Southeast Asia
[TIME] Indonesian antiterror authorities say they have broken up a plot to attack officials, churches and other targets across Indonesia. A suspected terrorist from China’s remote northwest was arrested last week in Indonesia after the nation's antiterror squad raided a house in Bekasi, on the outskirts of Jakarta.

During the December 24 raid, the police also seized an explosive device in a car and a model of a government building at the house, along with bomb-making materials. It is believed that the suspect, s Uighur man named Alli, was being trained to carry out a suicide bombing.

Police chief Badrodin Haiti said, "He’s a Uighur who was learning Indonesian, and he was a [suicide bomber] in training."

Alli is the 11th terrorist suspect arrested by the antiterror squad after a series of raids in cities across Java days before Christmas. According to the police, the crackdown, which started on Dec. 18 and was based on tips from the FBI and the Australian Federal Police, foiled a plot to attack several cities on the main islands of Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan. Among the targets were senior police officers, high-ranking officials, Christian churches and Shi'ite mosques.

Alli, along with six of the terror suspects arrested days earlier, is allegedly part of a Daesh-affiliated terror ring linked to Bahrun Naim — an Indonesian convict who has gone to Syria to fight with Daesh. The remaining four belong to Jemaah Islamiyah, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda.
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2015-12-26 Southeast Asia
[NDTV] Indonesian police said today they have enjugged
Maw! They're comin' to get me, Maw!
two men, including a member of China's Uighur minority, allegedly involved in a planned New Year suicide kaboom in Jakarta.

Police arrested an Indonesian, named as Arif Hodayatullah, near the capital for driving a car without a licence plate and found several books about bomb-making inside the vehicle, according to a document seen by AFP.

An anti-terror squad raided his house in West Java, where they arrested a Uighur, identified only as Alli, and confiscated a boom jacket and material to assemble a bomb.

"We also found a design (of where the attack would be carried out), but we have only found one, we need to investigate more," national police front man Anton Charliyan said late Thursday.

The arrests come at a time of heightened alert after police arrested several other suspected Lion of Islams.

On Monday police in Java arrested five suspects from a cell linked to the ISIS, and four from one linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah terror network, responsible for several major attacks in Indonesia.

The country is deploying more than 150,000 military and police personnel during the Christmas and New Year period and has increased security at its airports after a threat was directed at one serving Jakarta.

A police source, who declined to be named, said Alli was believed to be a bombmaker and was chosen to carry out the suicide attack.

Hodayatullah told police he was instructed by a man named Bahrunnaim, a holy warrior residing in Syria, to help Indonesians wishing to join the ISIS group.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, suffered several major kabooms by Islamic bully boyz between 2000 and 2009, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

But a crackdown has weakened the most dangerous Lion of Islam networks.

However the emergence of ISIS has sparked alarm that Indonesians returning from battlefields in the Middle East could revive them.
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2015-12-24 Southeast Asia
[KSL] Indonesian police said Monday they have foiled a plot to kill government officials, law enforcement officers and others by suspected Muslim snuffies incarcerated
Youse'll never take me alive coppers!... [BANG!]... Ow!... I quit!
over the weekend.

Security was raised at airports, the presidential palace, foreign embassies and shopping malls, and the government said it will deploy more than 150,000 personnel to safeguard public places and churches across the country.

Information from the U.S., Australia and Singapore helped Indonesian police discover that the attacks were planned for the year-end holiday season, national police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti said.

"This is the result of sharing intelligence to combat international evil," Haiti said. "There is a possibility of other groups, and we will continue to pursue them."

Anti-terror police arrested nine men over the weekend in five cities on Indonesia's main island of Java.

Those arrested included Zaenal, who is thought to have planned to be a jacket wallah in one of the attacks, and Asep Urip, a teacher at an Islamic boarding school who allegedly received funds from Indonesian snuffies who are joining the Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
group in Syria, national police front man Maj. Gen. Anton Charlian said at a separate news conference.

Their interrogation led police to arrest several other suspects who had been sought since a raid on their bomb-making factory in Klaten town last year, he said.

They have expertise in shooting and bomb-making because of their membership in Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaeda-linked Southeast Asian group blamed for the deadly 2002 nightclub bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, Charlian said.

"This group has collaborated with those who returned from war in Syria," he said. "They want to perform a 'concert' to attract international news coverage of their existence here."

He cited a document seized from the group that described the planned attacks as a "concert."

Charlian said police have identified about 240 people who have returned home out of at least 800 Indonesians who have traveled to the Middle East to join IS.
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2015-12-22 Southeast Asia
[AnNahar] Indonesian police said Monday they were on their highest terror alert after foiling plans for a suicide kaboom in Jakarta and arresting bully boyz linked to the Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....

Three-day raids across Java ending Sunday saw the confiscation of kabooms, an IS-inspired flag and nine arrests.

Several of the nabbed
Yez got nuttin' on me, coppers! Nuttin'!
men were allegedly linked to a planned suicide kaboom in Jakarta during the New Year celebrations, according to documents seized in the raids.

A total of five suspects were arrested from a cell linked to the Islamic State, and four more from a cell linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah terror network behind several major assaults in Indonesia.

The gunnies were targeting shopping malls, cop shoppes and minority groups across the country, the national police chief said.

According to documents seized in the raids, police claim the two cells were identifying attack sites in Jakarta as well as West Java, Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo.

"We are taking preventive actions. We are implementing the highest alert," said police chief Badrodin Haiti.

"There are several things that (these groups) can do, like bombing or other violent acts such as shootings, burning, or unarmed attacks," he added.

Other security officials said nearly 150,000 police and military officers would be dispatched to guard important sites between December 24 and January 2, when police would be extra vigilant.

Haiti confirmed that the Australian Federal Police, the FBI and Singaporean authorities had assisted with uncovering the alleged terror plots.

The increased security comes as senior ministers from Australia and Indonesia agreed to boost intelligence sharing, including on terrorism financing, following bilateral talks in both Sydney and Jakarta.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, suffered several major kabooms by Islamic bully boyz between 2000 and 2009, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

But a crackdown has weakened the most dangerous turban networks.

However the emergence of IS has sparked alarm that Indonesians returning from battlefields in the Middle East could revive them.

Indonesian police in August arrested three people with links to the IS group who were planning to launch kabooms during celebrations to mark the country's independence.
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2015-06-22 Southeast Asia
[Gulf Today] The US has retained the Abu Sayyaf as well as the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army in its list of foreign terror organisations operating in the Philippines.

The US State Department also said that while the Jemaah Islamiyah were based in Indonesia, it was also included in the group of foreign terror organisations because its influence has spread to the Philippines with membership estimated at between 400 and 1,000 militants.
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2015-05-06 Southeast Asia
More details on this recent article.
[AnNahar] A Filipino on the United States' list of most wanted "terrorists" has been killed in a firefight in the southern Philippines, Muslim rebel leaders and the military said Monday.

Abdul Basit Usman was killed in a remote mountainous area while being escorted by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the nation's biggest rebel group, its vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar said.

"We can confirm that Usman is dead and his body was buried in accordance with Muslim tradition," Jaafar told Agence France Presse, but he refused to say who killed him.

Jaafar said Usman was killed as MILF rebels were escorting him to the group's leaders to surrender, adding that he probably did not know he was being taken back to the MILF leaders.

"There was a firefight along the way. Usman could have sensed that he was being double-crossed," Jaafar said.

However he refused to give any more details as to who killed Usman, saying only that the circumstances of the firefight were under investigation.

Military chief General Gregorio Catapang said Usman had been killed, but that it remained unclear as to who killed him.

"Basit Usman is dead, as to the circumstances of what happened during that encounter, it's up to (the investigation)," Catapang told reporters.

The military said five of Usman's followers had also died in the battle, and that some of his own men may have double crossed him.

The U.S. State Department's website describes Usman as "a bomb-making expert with links to the Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf Group terrorist organisations" leading him to be considered a threat to American and Filipino citizens and interests..
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2015-05-04 Southeast Asia
[Reuters] The Philippines' most wanted terrorist, who escaped after a raid last January that killed 44 elite police commandos, was killed on Sunday in gun battle with Moro militants.

Presidential communications secretary Herminio "Sonny" Coloma said in a statement, "(Abdul) Basit Usman was killed in a firefight in Guindulungan, Maguindanao at around noon today. Usman was the second target of the operations conducted by the PNP-SAF to capture Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan last January 25."

The two terrorists were blamed for a series of bombings in the southern Philippines. Both had links with the defunct Jemaah Islamiyah and carried a combined $6 million bounty from the U.S. State Department.

Coloma gave no other details of the firefight, but security officials said Usman and five others were killed near a creek in Muti village.
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2015-05-01 Southeast Asia
[AnNahar] Six men, including an Indonesian suspected to be an arms expert, were charged on Thursday for allegedly conspiring to plot terror attacks in Malaysia.

The men, aged between 25 and 48, were charged with being "party to a conspiracy to promote terror in Malaysia", according to court documents obtained by AFP.

"They were handcuffed and brought to court under heavy security," lawyer Shariff Mat told AFP after the men, who include five Malaysians, appeared at a sessions court in the northern state of Kedah.

Shariff said no plea was recorded and they were expected to appear in court on May 31, with the case to be transferred to the high court.

The six included the group's alleged criminal mastermind 48-year-old Murad Halimmuddin Hassan and his 25-year-old son Abu Daud.

The Indonesian, Ali Saifuddin, is alleged to be an arms expert formerly with the Southeast Asian Death Eater group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

They were among a group of 17 detained in early April for a suspected plot to kidnap high-profile figures and launch terrorist attacks.

National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar had previously said the plotters were believed to have been inspired by the murderous Moslem Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
(IS) group and its bloody jihad in Syria and Iraq.

The group was said to have been planning attacks in the capital Kuala Lumpur and in nearby Putrajaya, which houses Malaysia's federal government apparatus.

They had also been planning to rob banks to raise funds, and raid armed forces installations and cop shoppes to obtain weapons, according to Khalid.

In February, Home Minister Zahid Hamidi warned that IS members in Malaysia had planned to kidnap tycoons and rob banks to finance terrorist activities.

Just last weekend, officials enjugged
Maw! They're comin' to get me, Maw!
12 suspected Islamic turbans who were plotting attacks in the country just as it was preparing to host a prominent Southeast Asian summit with regional leaders and ministers.

According to officials, so far about a hundred people have been arrested for suspected involvement in the IS jihad in Syria.
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2015-04-08 Southeast Asia
[AnNahar] Malaysia's national police chief said Tuesday that 17 people detained over the weekend in a suspected Islamic bully boy plot had planned to kidnap high-profile figures and launch terrorist attacks.

Khalid Abu Bakar said the plotters tossed in the slammer
Don't shoot, coppers! I'm comin' out!
on Sunday were believed to have been inspired by the hard boy Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
(IS) group and its bloody jihad in Syria and Iraq.

He said they also planned to rob banks to raise funds, and to raid armed forces' installations and cop shoppes to obtain weapons.

Those arrested included a 49-year-old senior Islamic State group member, who had undergone military training in Afghanistan in 1989 and in Indonesia in 2000, Khalid said.

"Seventeen people between the ages of 14 to 49 were arrested while they were holding a secret meeting in the dead of night to plan terror attacks in the (Kuala Lumpur area)," he said in a statement.

"The aim of this new terror group was to form an IS-like Islamic state in Malaysia.

"Their plan included the kidnapping of high-profile people."

Khalid did not provide details on whom the group was targeting, but in February, Zahid Hamidi, home minister in charge of internal security, warned that IS members in Malaysia had planned to kidnap tycoons and rob banks to finance terrorist activities.

The attacks were supposed to be carried out in the capital Kuala Lumpur and in nearby Putrajaya, the location of Malaysia's federal government apparatus.

But their campaign was thwarted after police raids in the capital and in the northern state of Kedah, said Khalid, who had announced the arrests on Monday without giving details.

Others arrested included a 38-year-old religious teacher who had visited Syria last year, two Malaysian military personnel, and an Indonesian arms expert formerly with the Southeast Asian bully boy group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

The latest arrests bring to 92 the total of people detained for suspected involvement in the IS jihad in Syria, Khalid added.

Malaysia's parliament on Tuesday passed a tough anti-terrorism law to counter the perceived IS threat, which allows authorities to detain terrorism suspects without charge virtually indefinitely, according to its critics.

The law's passage was denounced by the political opposition and rights groups as a blow for civil rights.

Police had said in January they had arrested a total of 120 people with suspected Islamic State links or sympathies, or who had sought to travel to Syria or Iraq, and that 67 Malaysians were known at the time to have gone abroad to join IS jihadists.
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2015-03-31 Southeast Asia
[ARABNEWS] A monthlong Philippine offensive against hard-line rebels ended Monday after 139 insurgents were killed, 12 others were captured and bomb-making strongholds were seized by troops, the military chief said.

Ten soldiers were killed and 30 others were wounded in the ground and air strikes in the marshy boundary of Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces in the southern Philippines. The clashes displaced 120,000 villagers at the height of fighting, and about 30,000 have returned home as the clashes eased, Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang told a news conference.

In a final gunbattle Sunday, four soldiers and 16 insurgents were killed, including a rebel commander, the military said.

Government forces launched the assaults Feb. 25 against the BIFM after its fighters attacked villages and were implicated in the killings in January of 44 police anti-terror commandos in the outskirts of Maguindanao’s Mamasapano town.

“After the relentless operations against the (rebels), we have achieved our objectives, including the neutralization of more than 50 percent of their ranks, the capture of their bomb factories and the seizure of their enclaves or safe havens,” Catapang said.

The military’s account could not be independently verified. Catapang cited intelligence and accounts from troops and villagers for the rebel death toll.

Catapang said a smaller number of troops would continue to hunt the rest of the rebels, specifically Abdul Basit Usman, alleged to be a bomb maker and trainer with links to the Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network and a suspect in several deadly bomb attacks in the south.

Washington has offered a $1 million award for Usman’s capture and prosecution.

The huge police casualties in Mamasapano — the government’s biggest single-day combat loss in recent memory — sparked public outrage and calls for retaliatory strikes against the insurgents. The deaths also stalled a peace deal the government signed last year with the largestrebel group in the south, the MILF, some fighters of which became entangled in the clashes that killed the commandos.

After the offensive, government troops will help construct roads, bridges, schools and hospitals in the area of fighting — far-flung communities where poverty, landlessness and neglect have fostered the decades-long rebellion in the south of the nation.
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2015-03-03 Southeast Asia
[ARABNEWS] The Philippine military is trying to capture a bombmaker it believes is being "coddled" by Filipino murderous Moslems who have pledged loyalty to Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems....
, authorities said Sunday.

The capture of Abdel Basit Usman is one of the objectives of a major army offensive on the southern island of Mindanao, said local military commander Major General Edmundo Pangilinan.

The US government has Usman on its most-wanted list with a one million dollar bounty on his head. Washington and Manila say he has links to Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf
...also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya, an Islamist terror group based in Jolo, Basilan and Zamboanga. Since its inception in the early 1990s, the group has carried out bombings, kidnappings, murders, head choppings, and extortion in their uniquely Islamic attempt to set up an independent Moslem province in the Philippines. Abu Sayyaf forces probably number less than 300 cadres. The group is closely allied with remnants of Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiya and has loose ties with MILF and MNLF who sometimes provide cannon fodder...
, two groups of Southeast Asian Death Eaters.

Pangilinan said the military believes Usman is being sheltered by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters
...a MILF splinter group aligned with the Islamic State...
(BIFF), which has vowed support to the Islamic State jihadist group that controls swathes of Iraq and Syria.

"Basit Usman is still believed to be in the area. We believe the BIFF, this armed, lawless group, are the ones coddling and protecting him. We are still pursuing him," he told AFP.

"Field reports indicated that three (Filipino Moslem) lieutenants of Basit Usman were killed in the assault," a military statement said.

"More troops were sent in to scour the hiding places of Usman," it added. Military officials declined to specify how many soldiers were involved.

More than 10,000 residents have fled since the fighting began last week between the army and the BIFF in the province of Maguindanao on Mindanao, a government front man said, adding that Manila was providing aid to them.Pangilinan said the military was also confirming reports of four Indonesians and an Arab who may be with Usman and the BIFF.

"Airstrikes and artillery fire were delivered (on Saturday) after information of the location of the targets were identified," a military statement said, without specifying if anyone was hit.

Usman was one of the targets of a botched police commando operation in the same area on January 25.

Forty-four commandoes were killed in the raid, triggering a wave of outrage which has shaken the administration of President Benigno Aquino.

Usman was not captured. But initial DNA tests from another body indicated the raid may have succeeded in killing another target, Zulkifli bin Hir.
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2015-03-02 Southeast Asia
[Business World] A military assault on Islamist militants in the southern Philippines entered its fifth day on Saturday, with the toll rising to 24 guerrillas and two soldiers dead.

Ten Abu Sayyaf rebels were killed in a two-hour battle on Friday after the army struck their jungle lair on Jolo island with artillery and helicopter gunships. Another 14 rebels and two troops had been killed since the fighting erupted on Tuesday, said Col. Alan Arrojado, who is leading the assault.

Battles have been raging in the mountainous and thickly forested villages of Patikul town. The militants were reportedly moving with three Malaysian Jemaah Islamiyah members who were providing them with bomb-making training.

Military spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla said, "This (assault) will not stop until we put an end to the Abu Sayyaf."
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2015-02-28 Southeast Asia
[ABS-CBN News] Three alleged bomb experts from the Jemaah Islamiyah terror group have been seen in the province of Sulu. According to Ensign Ian Chester Ramos, spokesperson for Joint Task Force Zambasulta, the foreign terrorists were seen with the Abu Sayyaf in a gun battle that broke out last Wednesday.

Two Philippine soldiers were killed in the clash and 16 others were wounded. Ramos said 14 Abu Sayyaf militants also died in the fierce battle, which lasted for several hours. A number of Abu Sayyaf members were also wounded, including Hatib Sawadjaan, one of the leaders of the rebel group in Sulu.

The Western Mindanao Command has said five JI bomb experts have been conducting bomb-making training with members of the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. JI members are also targets in the current Philippine offensive against the BIFF in Central Mindanao.

The five foreign terrorists, who came from Malaysia, have been supporting the Islamic State, recruiting local rebels in Mindanao to forge an alliance with the IS.
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2015-02-10 Southeast Asia
[Gulf Today] The leader of a Philippine National Police elite unit on Monday disclosed they have uncovered a plot by Jemaah Islamiyah to bomb Pope Francis' motorcade during his recent five-day visit to the Philippines. Deputy Director Getulio Napenas made the disclosure during testimony before a Senate hearing on the deaths of 44 police commandos during a raid in Maguindanao province on January 25.

Napenas revealed they received reliable information that Marwan, a senior member of the JI who was killed in the raid, plotted to bomb the pontiff's convoy while his motorcade was on Teodoro Kalaw Street in Manila on January 18. The Pope was on his way to attend a major event on that penultimate day of his five-day visit.

Napenas also disputed the MILF claim that they only suffered a total of 18 casualties. The commandos killed at least 250 MILF members and several BIFF members, he told the committee.
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2015-01-29 Southeast Asia
[Inquirer] Information gathered from different sources, including Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Murad Ebrahim, has been used to piece together the events in Maguindanao that led to the deaths of 44 elite police commandos in a gun battle with Moro militants on Sunday.

Around 6:30 a.m. the MILF fighters in Tukanalipao noticed armed uniformed men approaching. Murad said it was the policemen from Special Action Force (SAF) who first fired upon members of the MILF 105th Base Command, sparking the firefight.

The scene of battle was a vast cornfield where the SAF commandos, reportedly not familiar with the terrain, ended up as sitting ducks for some 100 MILF fighters.

A government source said that the SAF forces were divided into two units, a primary force and a secondary force.

The primary force was to get Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias "Marwan," a bomb expert from Jemaah Islamiyah on whose head the United States had placed a $6-million bounty. The SAF had a secondary target, local terrorist Abdul Basit Usman, another bomb expert for whose capture the United States has offered a $3-million reward. The secondary force was to "protect" the primary force.

It was the secondary force that ended up fighting the MILF guerrillas from the 105th Base Command, the source said. After several hours of fighting, the two sides deescalated but as the MILF withdrew, the source said, militants from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) opened fire on the SAF.

The BIFF had another version of what happened. Group spokesman Abu Misri Mama said at the start, only BIFF militants were involved in the incident. When BIFF forces detected several military vehicles, they prepared an ambush. Mama said, "Many of the casualties [fell] during the ambush."
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2015-01-18 Southeast Asia
[Jakarta Post] An armed group is alleged to have gunned down one person and slaughtered two others in Poso regency, Central Sulawesi, amid the arrests of six members of the fugitive network led by Santoso this week.

The shooting of Dolfis Alipa, a student at Sintuwu Maroso University, occurred on Thursday in Tangkura subdistrict. Poso Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Ronny Suseno said, "The victim was shot dead on his way home from a field not far from his house."

The same group allegedly also killed two other locals, Heri Tobio and Aditla Tetembu. The police found them slain with their throats slit.

The Indonesian National Police's Densus 88 counterterrorism unit has nabbed six people in Poso this week alleged to have links with the Santoso-led group. They were identified only by their initials R, S, H, R, A and I. A man with the initials IS, from Pandajaya Pendolo subdistrict, was also killed as the Densus team attempted to arrest him in East Luwu, South Sulawesi.

Poso was the scene of sectarian conflict that lasted from 1998 to 2000. Over 2,000 people were killed or went missing during that period. In 2001, a peace meeting resulted in a peace agreement called the Malino Declaration.

However, new radical groups have been born in the meantime, including Jemaah Islamiyah, led by cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, now serving a 15-year sentence in Central Java. Later, another group, Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), emerged and was eventually defeated.

More recently, another group calling themselves East Indonesian Mujahidin (MIT), has emerged under the leadership of Santoso.
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2014-12-31 Southeast Asia
Indonesian national police have announced the arrests of three suspected terrorists, including two linked to Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) leader Dulmatin , thought to be the mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings.

Muhammad Shibghotulloh, one of several Indonesians who were deported from Malaysia after being stopped on December 2 while allegedly traveling to the Middle East to join the IS, has since been arrested by Indonesian authorities who have linked him to Dulmatin.

Inspector General Ronny F. Sompie said, "[He] allegedly once sheltered Dulmatin and was involved in a militant group training camp in Ambon."

Shibghotulloh was interrogated for three days and then named a suspect, Sompie said, denying reports the suspect was tied to IS.

Earlier this month, a pair of former suspected leaders of an Aceh terror training camp were arrested in East Java. Dulmatin, killed by Indonesian security forces in March 2010, had run the camp, according to reports.

Tony Sangaralo was arrested in Lamongan on December 21st and Adi Margono was captured the next day in Banyuwangi. The two had allegedly contacted one another. Tony helped run the Janto, Aceh camp that was raided in 2010.

National Police spokesman Agus Rianto said, "Tony was one of those who fled. His colleague, Dulmatin, was shot dead in Tangerang, West Java in 2010. The JI link is now much smaller than it used to be. They are also weaker. Its leader, Jemaah Islamiyah leader Abu Bakar Bashir is serving a prison sentence in Cilacap, Central Java. However, many JI followers are still around. Tony is only one of them."
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2014-12-29 Southeast Asia
Indonesian National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Ronny F. Sompie said that a counterterrorism unit had arrested terrorist suspect, Toni Saronggalo, in Lamongan, East Java, on Sunday evening. Ronny said that Tony allegedly assisted now-dead terrorist leader Dulmatin to set up training grounds for the Jemaah Islamiyah militant group in Jantho, Aceh.

He said, "We have been on the lookout for the suspect [Tony] for an extremely long time. He is currently still being questioned by investigators."

Dulmatin was once one of the region's highest-profile terrorist leaders and a mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings, among many other bombings between 2000 and 2003 in Jakarta and Mojokerto in Surabaya, East Java. The al-Qaeda trained Dulmatin was eventually gunned down in a police raid in 2010.

Toni’s wife, Musmainah, denied knowing about her husband's involvement with the militant group and insisted that he had no other activities apart from chicken trading. She said, "He didn’t do anything in particular during his free time."
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2014-11-30 Southeast Asia
Two Abu Sayyaf terrorists and an Indonesian militant were convicted by a court in Manila for their role in a bombing at a shopping center in General Santos in 2002 that killed at least 14 people.

The judge ruled that Abu Sayyaf militants Ahmad Jekeron, Yacob Basug and Jul Kifli from Indonesia were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in the April 21, 2002 bombing.

Before the bombing, a member of the al-Harakatul al-Islamiyah group or Abu Sayyaf, called up a station and warned that explosions would occur that day.

A former Abu Sayyaf militant and key witness, Abu Hamdie, said the bombing was the first joint attack by the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah.
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2014-11-18 Southeast Asia
[InterAksyon] A source from Philippine National Police intelnligence said a newly-formed jihadist group, suspected to be led by Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)-trained Abdul Basit Usman, is in Luzon ahead of the five-day visit of Pope Francis this January 2015.

The group is apparently a 15-man so-called Special Operations Group (SOG), the source said. The SOG is claimed to be comprised of members of the Al Hansar Khilafa, which is said to have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The source said that the deployment of the SOG from Usman's Group started last June, and may have something to do with the Pope's forthcoming visit. He said the formation of Usman's group, called the "Bangsamoro Justice Movement (BJM)" may have been disrupted after the arrest of Khair Mundos this June and that of Ricardo Ayeras of the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM).

Mundos, a key leader of the ASG, was suspected to be casing possible routes to be taken by the pontiff when he visits the country from January 15 to 19, while Ayeras was nabbed by the police in Quezon City early last month over a simple traffic violation.

The source estimated that the combat strength of the Al Hansar Khilafa could be as many as 60 men. He said, "Their members come from the Rajah Solaiman Movement-Abu Sayyaf Group of the Isnilon Hapilon faction and Usman's former men with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)," adding that there are also some members from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the Al Hansar Khilafa, with three members of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) also making up the other members of the group.

The source added that the members of Usman's SOG are in Luzon, with some of them possibly in Metro Manila and in the Southern Tagalog Region and all of them well trained in handling explosives.

A separate intelligence source had said earlier that the terror cell in Luzon is headed by an Islamic cleric from Bangladesh. He said four foreigners who joined the Bangladeshi cleric had just come from Cotabato where they were believed to have also trained militants in bomb-making and explosives handling.
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2014-10-28 Southeast Asia
A bomb expert with a $30,000 cash bounty on his head was arrested for his alleged involvement in the series of bombings and explosions in Mindanao, police said on Sunday.

Chief Superintendent Noel delos Santos identified the suspect as Abu Salman also known as Sauman Usma, who was nabbed in Maguindanao province. He said Salman, a relative of foreign trained bomb expert Basit Usman, was shot in the leg when he tried to fight off the police who were armed with arrest warrants issued by a regional court where he was facing charges like murder and kidnapping.

Security sources confirmed that Salman was linked to Jemaah Islamiyah extremists.

Meanwhile, the Philippine government said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was helping the them track down members of the Abu Sayyaf wanted for kidnappings in Mindanao. Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma said, "The partnership is already a given because the government and the MILF are already hunting down the kidnappers."

He pointed out that such co-operation included a crackdown on criminal syndicates preying on prominent Mindanao personalities and business firms by demanding the payment of "protection money".
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2014-10-23 Southeast Asia
A combined army and police force on Tuesday arrested an ordnance expert wanted for a series of deadly bombings in Central Mindanao in recent years. Suspect Abi Salman, also known as Sauman Usman, is known to have links with the Jemaah Islamiyah.

Salman, who has a P1.3-million bounty on his head, was cornered at his hideout in Mamasapano in the second district of Maguindanao. Salman at first yielded peacefully when he saw that his house had been surrounded by uniformed policemen and soldiers, but was shot in the leg by one of the operatives that arrested him for trying to escape.

Local officials said Salman is a close relative of wanted bomber Basit Usman, who was said to have undergone training in handling and fabrication of improvised explosives in Peshawar, Pakistan and in Kandahar, Afghanistan in the early 1990's.
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2014-09-28 Terror Networks
By Andrew C. McCarthy
Excerpt of an opinion piece illustrating the danger of letting your political orientation influence your foreign affairs vision.
[NATIONALREVIEW] Obama gives us the Khorosan Group.
The who?
Khorasan. Afghanistan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Pakistan, approximately. Kinda deemphasizes the overweening Arabness of things.
There is a reason that no one had heard of such a group until a nanosecond ago, when the "Khorosan Group" suddenly went from anonymity to the "imminent threat" that became the rationale for an emergency air war there was supposedly no time to ask Congress to authorize.
I've been sitting here doing this stuff for the past thirteen years, day in and day out. I read about a new group about once every two weeks. Think of al-Qaeda as the army and al-Qaeda in wherever as the divisions: the Arabian Peninsula, the Islamic Maghreb, Iraq, that sort of thing. Within each of the divisions there are umpty brigades. Each is concerned with its own internal rivalries, which is why we see Mokhtar breaking off from AQIM and becoming his own "Mourabitounes" (Signers in Blood) group.
You haven't heard of the Khorosan Group because there isn't one.
Yet just today or yesterday there were condolence messages on the departure from the gene pool of its head, who was on the FBI most wanted list with a $7 million bounty on his head.
It is a name the administration came up with, calculating that Khorosan -- the --Iranian--​Afghan border region -- had sufficient connection to jihadist lore that no one would call the president on it.
Khorasan appears to be (have been?) a group within al-Nusra, which could also be called al-Qaeda in the Levant.
The "Khorosan Group" is al-Qaeda.
That's a correct statement.
It is simply a faction within the global terror network's Syrian franchise, "Jabhat al-Nusra."
I just said that.
Its leader, Mushin al-Fadhli (believed to have been killed in this week's U.S.-led air strikes), was an intimate of Ayman al-Zawahiri
... Formerly second in command of al-Qaeda, now the head cheese, occasionally described as the real brains of the outfit. Formerly the Mister Big of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Bumped off Abdullah Azzam with a car boom in the course of one of their little disputes. Is thought to have composed bin Laden's fatwa entitled World Islamic Front Against Jews and Crusaders. Currently residing in the North Wazoo area. That is not a horn growing from the middle of his forehead, but a prayer bump, attesting to how devout he is...
, the emir of al-Qaeda who dispatched him to the jihad in Syria. Except that if you listen to administration officials long enough, you come away thinking that Zawahiri is not really al-Qaeda, either. Instead, he's something the administration is at pains to call "core al-Qaeda."
"Core" al-Qaeda is the "army" staff, located in the Pak-Afghan border area. My guess would be in Miranshah, though I could be wrong. I thought bin Laden lived the life of a gentleman farmer in Chitral.
"Core al-Qaeda," you are to understand, is different from "Jabhat al-Nusra," which in turn is distinct from "al-Qaeda in Iraq" (formerly "al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia," now the "Islamic State" al-Qaeda spin-off that is, itself, formerly "al-Qaeda in Iraq and al-Sham" or "al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant"). That al-Qaeda, don't you know, is a different outfit from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula . . . which, of course, should never be mistaken for "al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb," "Boko Haram," "Ansar al-Sharia," or the latest entry, "al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent."
Nor with AQ in Britain, nor with AQ in Europe. They're not the same thing. You cant' confuse the whole with the part. In 2002 Jemaah Islamiyah was a significant threat in Indonesia. After the Bali bombing the Indons rounded them up and exploited the group like they were supposed to: beat hell out of the guys you have until they tell you more guys to get. Jug the cannon fodder and hang the mean ones. The only mistake they made was letting the holy man off. There were a couple lessons there: First, JI was patently a family operation. They were all married to each other's sisters or daughters or aunts or something. Second, all those Islamic arrows are expendable; we occasionally hear about JI in the news, but what we're really hearing about is JI remnants. When AQ or IS rises again it will likely be in Poso with a new cast of characters.
Coming soon, "al-Qaeda on Hollywood and Vine." In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if, come 2015, Obama issued an executive order decreeing twelve new jihad jayvees stretching from al-Qaeda in January through al-Qaeda in December.
They're playing area offense. Remember when the Islamic Courts overran Somalia? And the Ethiopians kindly stepped in and killed as many of them as they could lay hands on? When the dust had settled approximately the same group started up again, this time wearing a false nose and mustache, calling itself "al-Shabaab." It doesn't take an Obama decree to bring one of these groups into being. Boko Haram was nothing but background noise until a few years ago. Now it's got its own "Caliphate."
Except you'll hear only about the jayvees, not the jihad. You see, there is a purpose behind this dizzying proliferation of names assigned to what, in reality, is a global network with multiple tentacles and occasional internecine rivalries.
Each of the tentacles has its own name, its own largely autonomous nervous system.
As these columns have long contended, Obama has not quelled our enemies; he has miniaturized them. The jihad and the sharia supremacism that fuels it form the glue that unites the parts into a whole -- a worldwide, ideologically connected movement rooted in Islamic scripture that can project power on the scale of a nation-state and that seeks to conquer the West. The president does not want us to see the threat this way.
So seemingly the writer can understand the actual enemy, but he quibbles over terminology.
For a product of the radical Left like Obama, terrorism is a regrettable but understandable consequence of American arrogance.
That's kind of the weakness on our side, isn't it? With all that boodle lying around earmarked for the military budget, the impulse to grab the dough for donor-friendly contracts is overwhelming. But it's not just Obama. Cameron's not eager to get involved, either. The Brits are reaching the point where they can't afford to. Hollande, much to my surprise, isn't taking a lot of nonsense from people with turbans suffering from delusions of superiority, but Merkel has been trying to maintain her distance out of post-WWII angst.
That it happens to involve Muslims is just the coincidental fallout of Western imperialism in the Middle East, not the doctrinal command of a belief system that perceives itself as engaged in an inter-civilizational conflict.
If you don't train yourself to believe that, the whole concept of multiculturalism suddenly looks as foolish as it is.
For the Left, America has to be the culprit.
This is the gift of the Soviets. They spent a lot of time and money developing a fifth column in this country. It's blooming while they're in the ashcan of history, at least until short attention span syndrome kicks in.
Despite its inbred pathologies, which we had no role in cultivating, Islam must be the victim, not the cause. As you'll hear from Obama's Islamist allies, who often double as Democrat activists, the problem is "Islamophobia," not Muslim terrorism.
...Islamophobia: the irrational fear that Moslems will act the way they usually do...
This is a gross distortion of reality, so the Left has to do some very heavy lifting to pull it off. Since the Islamic-supremacist ideology that unites the jihadists won't disappear, it has to be denied and purged. The "real" jihad becomes the "internal struggle to become a better person."
A "better person" who chops people's heads off.
The scriptural and scholarly underpinnings of Islamic supremacism must be bleached out of the materials used to train our national-security agents, and the instructors who resist going along with the program must be ostracized. The global terror network must be atomized into discrete, disconnected cells moved to violence by parochial political or territorial disputes, with no overarching unity or hegemonic ambition.
"Core al-Qaeda" is kind of a misnomer, since "al-Qaeda" means "the base," which it kinda sorta remains. They were designed as a whole, but with the passage of time they broke down into a confederation. Zawahiri twice told ISIL to shut down and merge with al-Nusra. Instead they farted in his general direction and established their caliphate. Splinters all over the world are scrambling to attach themselves to the board. It's that strong horse-weak horse thing all over again. It's the same kind of power struggle Zawahiri had Abdullah Azzam car boomed over.
That way, they can be limned as a manageable law-enforcement problem fit for the courts to address, not a national-security challenge requiring the armed forces.
The stupidity of using the civilian courts to handle krazed killers where much of the "evidence" is based on intel or intel information is patent. It's also an entirely separate problem.
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2014-09-22 Southeast Asia
Some 100 local Muslims have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) caliphate on Friday. Those who pledged their allegiance took their mass oath-taking in a surprise announcement inside the Masjid Islamic Center, according to an insider.

An elderly Muslim cleric Jamil "Motawwa" Yahya, a former senior member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and colleague of MILF leader Salamat Hashim, allegedly organized the mass oath-taking. Yahya is reportedly affiliated with the Bangsamoro Labor Organization which is active in the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East region. Other sources said members of the Khilafah Islamiyah Mindanao-Black Flag Movement was reportedly behind the convergence.

An Afghan cleric Humam Abdul Najid, who has ties with Southeast Asian terror organization Jemaah Islamiyah, is also being linked to the secret mass oath-taking, but these allegations could not be immediately confirmed.
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2014-08-07 Southeast Asia
The Philippine military said that one of Southeast Asia’s top Islamic terrorists militants was alive, more than two years after a jubilant declaration he had been killed in a US-backed airstrike.

Zulkifli Abdul Hir, alias Marwan, a Malaysian bomb maker with a $5 million US government bounty on his head, was in the southern Philippines, senior military officials said. Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said, "He is alive and we continue to monitor him."

Philippine military leaders said in February 2012 that Zulkifli was among 15 members of the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah groups killed in an airstrike on the island of Jolo. Another top Jemaah Islamiyah member, Singaporean Mohammad Ali, alias Muawiyah, was also declared killed in the airstrike, along with a Filipino leader of the Abu Sayyaf.

At the time then regional military commander Major General Noel Coballes said, "This is a big victory. There were three senior leaders (killed). This will have a very big impact on the capability of the terrorists."

Shortly afterwards, Malaysia expressed doubts about the purported killings, but the Philippines’ then military spokesman insisted that all three were killed. Arnulfo Burgos, Zagala’s predecessor, said at the time, "Yes, its an A-1 (information). We have something but we cannot divulge all the other information because its an operational (secret)."

However Zagala insisted today that the Philippine military had never said Zulkifli had definitely been killed. He said, "There were reports that said he was dead, but it was never validated… we never confirmed he was dead."

Zagala declined to answer any further questions about the case, such as whether the other two top terrorists militants were also alive.

Military intelligence chief Major General Eduardo Ano said there were "consistent reports" Zulkifli was in the Cotabato area of the main southern island of Mindanao.

He said Zulkifli was believed to be in contact there with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). He added that there were 10 to 12 foreign Jemaah Islamiyah members in the southern Philippines, and that Zulkifli was "the most prominent" of them.
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2014-08-07 Southeast Asia
[AnNahar] An Indonesian bomb-maker convicted of helping to orchestrate terror attacks on the resort island of Bali in 2005 which killed 20 people was released on parole Wednesday, an official said.

Muhammad Cholili, 36, was sentenced to 18 years in prison in September 2006 for assisting slain ringleaders Noordin Mohammad Top and Azahari Husin to assemble the explosives used in the blasts.

The attacks on restaurants on October 1, 2005 left 20 people dead and over 100 injured.

Noordin and Azahari were key members of the Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah krazed killer network blamed for a string of deadly attacks in Indonesia, including the 2002 Bali bombing which killed 202 people, mostly Western holidaymakers.

"Muhammad Cholili has been released on parole today after several remissions which he received for good behavior. He has never broken any prison regulations," the justice ministry's prisons spokeswoman Ika Yusanti told AFP.

Sentences are routinely cut in Indonesia to mark major religious celebrations such as Eid al-Fitr Mohammedan holiday and the country's independence day on August 17.

This meant that Cholili served only around half of his term, but Yusanti said that his release has "received the recommendation from the Detachment 88 and the National Anti-Terror Agency", which are responsible for tracking terror activities in the country.

Yusanti also added that the authorities would continue to monitor Cholili's activities and he will not be able to leave Indonesia without the justice minister's approval.

"If he commits any crime or creates any problems in the community, he will be sent back to prison," she added.

Indonesia's English daily The Jakarta Globe reported that Cholili was surprised to learn of his release from the Lowokwaru Prison in Malang, East Java, but was happy to leave prison.

"The most important thing is to go home and meet my family," he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Indonesia, the world's biggest Mohammedan-majority nation, has long struggled with terrorism but a successful clampdown in recent years has prevented major deadly attacks.

there's more than one way to skin a cat...
recent reports of Indonesians joining the procession of jihadists to Syria and Iraq have sparked fears that they will revive sophisticated krazed killer networks.
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2014-06-26 Southeast Asia
US reportedly will disband anti-terror force in Philippines

[FoxNews] After more than a decade of helping fight Al Qaeda-linked militants, the United States is disbanding an anti-terror contingent of hundreds of elite American troops in the southern Philippines where armed groups such as Abu Sayyaf have largely been crippled, officials said Thursday.

But special forces from the U.S. Pacific Command, possibly in smaller numbers, will remain after the deactivation of the anti-terror contingent called Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines, or JSOTF-P, to ensure Al Qaeda offshoots such as Abu Sayyaf and the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah militant network do not regain lost ground, according to U.S. and Philippine officials.
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2014-06-22 Southeast Asia
A Malaysian terrorist militant thought to have been killed in an air strike two years ago is alive and actively training new recruits. Zulkifli Abdhir, who once headed Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia and was a member of Jemaah Islamiyah's central command, is back on local most wanted lists. Intelligence agencies believe he is now an operative of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist militant group. Zulkifli is also high on the FBI's most wanted list.

Intelligence sources said the bomb expert who is also known by his alias, Marwan, is believed to be a top asset to the group, and had trained a significant number of bombers, including suicide bombers. They include the new cadre of Malaysian terrorists militants who are looking for combat experience before joining terrorist militant groups active in Syria and Iraq. The sources revealed that these terrorists militants were required to pay a significant amount in fees for training that would provide them with battle skills.

The Philippine military, following a February 2012 raid on Jolo Island, had said it was confident that Marwan, along with more than a dozen others, including the group's top figures, had been killed. However, security analysts had cast doubt over the raid's success, saying the conclusion was made based on field reports and that their identities were not confirmed.

This revelation came as the authorities are arresting up more and more militants bound for Syria, including several who had just returned from the Abu Sayyaf's two-month training program in the southern Philippines.
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2014-06-15 Southeast Asia
Three suspected Malaysian international terrorists including a senior militant who allegedly held training sessions at an Abu Sayyaf camp were arrested by the Malaysian Royal Navy on Friday.

Malaysian officials said one of the terrorists is a senior member of a militant cell that had trained since April 22 at an Abu Sayyaf Group camp in Mindanao. A police statement said, "The suspect has illegally entered Malaysia on June 11 and was hiding in a house in Sandakan."

Malaysian police have so far arrested 12 people alleged to have ties to militant groups in Syria and the southern Philippines, among them an East African national, thought to be member of Al-Shabaab, who was nabbed in Selangor.

Last year, the military neutralized Noor Fikrie Kahar, a Malaysian militant and Ibnu Gholob Al Jitli, known also as Sanusi, an Indonesian terrorist, both members of the Jemaah Islamiyah. The two were blamed for the series of bombings in Mindanao.

Kahar was gunned down by Davao City policemen while trying to detonate an improvised explosive at a hotel on December 18, while Sanusi was killed in a shoot-out with soldiers in Marawi City on November 21.
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2014-06-13 Southeast Asia
The Philippine military now has evidence indicating that the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah has been training members of the local Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Brig. Gen. Edmund Pangilinan said troops gathered the evidence from the location in Maguindanao where they clashed with BIFF members last Thursday and captured four militants. The four militants were captured as the military also nabbed Khair Mundos, a leader and key financier of the Abu Sayyaf group, who carries a bounty of $500,000. The group was apparently in the company of Abdul Basit Usman, a JI-trained Abu Sayyaf member, for whom the US government has offered a bounty of $1 million.

Pangilinan said two of militants captured last Thursday were women who appeared to be Usaman's wives while the remaining two men were apparently close associates. He said the recovered evidence bolstered claims that Usman had been training BIFF members in bomb-making and the series of bombing incidents in Central Mindanao over the past few months was part of JI-BIFF operations.
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2014-06-12 Southeast Asia
[Ynet] Khair Mundos, a top Filipino commander of the al-Qaeda funded Abu Sayyaf
...also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya, an Islamist terror group based in Jolo, Basilan and Zamboanga. Since its inception in the early 1990s, the group has carried out bombings, kidnappings, murders, head choppings, and extortion in their uniquely Islamic attempt to set up an independent Moslem province in the Philippines. Abu Sayyaf forces probably number less than 300 cadres. The group is closely allied with remnants of Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiya and has loose ties with MILF and MNLF who sometimes provide cannon fodder...

Death Eater group, incarcerated in Manila's international airport

Philippine army troops and police on Wednesday captured a top Filipino commander of the Abu Sayyaf Death Eater group who is on the U.S. list of most-wanted turbans and has acknowledged receiving al-Qaeda funds to finance bombings in the country.

Philippine security officials said Khair Mundos was arrested in a slum community near Manila's international airport but it was not immediately clear why he was in the capital. The military and police have been hunting him for his alleged involvement in bombings and kidnappings.

Mundos is one of the highest-ranking terrorist suspects to be captured in the country in years. He was captured in 2004 but escaped in 2007.

Military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Eduardo Ano described Mundos' capture as a major blow to Abu Sayyaf, where he has served as a top commander, financial and logistical officer, trainer and planner of attacks.

The US State Department says Mundos, who also faces money laundering charges, has acknowledged that he arranged the transfer of al-Qaeda funds to the Abu Sayyaf to finance bombings and other attacks in the Philippines.

The State Department announced a $500,000 reward in 2009 for the killing or capture of Mundos. U.S. authorities said he has worked as a financier for Abu Sayyaf.

He has led Abu Sayyaf Death Eaters on southern Basilan
...Basilan is a rugged, jungle-covered island in the southern Philippines. It is a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, bandidos, and maybe even orcs. Most people with any sense travel with armed escorts...
and is known to have links with members of the Southeast Asian krazed killer network Jemaah Islamiyah.

Abu Sayyaf, which has an estimated 300 armed fighters split into about six factions, has been blamed for deadly kabooms, ransom kidnappings and beheadings. It was founded in the early 1990s on jungle-clad Basilan, near Zamboanga, a region 860 kilometers (540 miles) south of Manila where American counterterrorism troops have been stationed for more than a decade.

Washington has declared Abu Sayyaf a terrorist group and blames it for deadly attacks on American troops and civilians in the southern Philippines.
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2014-06-05 Southeast Asia
Philippine government lawyers have recommended murder charges be filed against six senior leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and 26 of their men for the killing of two US soldiers and a Philippine marine in a bomb attack in Sulu province on Mindanao in 2009.

The Sulu provincial prosecutors office found "probable cause" to file before a regional court murder charges against the MNLF leaders and their men headed by Commander Khaid Adjibon.

The case stems from a bomb attack on a vehicle carrying Filipino and American soldiers on their way to a village in the town of Indanan. Earlier, the MNLF took responsibility for the bombing to avenge the killing of their men in an encounter with government forces in the town in September 2009.

Police revealed a break in the case occurred when a suspected MNLF bomb expert, identified as Miraji Bairullah but more popularly known as Mahang, was arrested Sunday morning.

Chief Superintendent Benjamin Magalong said Mahang did not resist when a team of policemen and soldiers served his warrant. He said, "He (Mahang) is an expert bomb-maker who trained under Jemaah Islamiyah and Al Qaeda."
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2014-05-10 Southeast Asia
A new terrorist group has emerged from under the wing of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM), planning to commit acts of terror in Malaysia. Local authorities have recently arrested 11 people on suspicion of involvement with the unnamed, al-Qaeda-inspired group.

Regarding the arrests, Home Minister Zahid Hamidi said some organizations were using humanitarian missions to train militants in other countries. He said, "We encourage humanitarian missions to other countries, but we will not allow such missions to be used to train members for militant activities."

Reports say the group sent members posing as humanitarian workers to Syria for training.

Though authorities have the 11 suspects in custody, officials at federal police headquarters said police "were nowhere near neutralizing the threat posed by this new terror group".

The group was started in late 2013 and has aggressively recruited new members through Facebook, and infiltrating universities and religious classes. In addition, the new group has dispatched some operatives to Syria, according to reports.
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2014-05-04 Southeast Asia
[IsraelTimes] Malaysian police have locked away
Maw! They're comin' to get me, Maw!
an 11th suspect in an operation to break up Islamic terror groups posing as humanitarian organizations, an official said on Saturday.

Police arrested 10 Malaysians earlier in the week during raids in and around the capital Kuala Lumpur and the northern state of Kedah before a man attempting to flee the country was detained on Thursday, said a Home Ministry official.

"Our biggest worry is organizations using humanitarian missions as the basis to train myrmidons," said Home Minister Zahid Hamidi as cited by Malay-language daily Berita Harian in comments confirmed by the official.

Hamidi said these groups claimed to be on a "jihad (holy war)", according to the newspaper Utusan Malaysia.

The Malay-language publication also reported that police are still tracing a number of other suspects in ongoing investigations.

Malaysia practises moderate Islam and has not seen any notable terror attacks in recent memory, but concern has risen in the multi-faith nation over perceived Islamisation.

The Southeast Asian country has been home to several suspected key figures in myrmidon Islamic groups, such as the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah blamed for the deadly 2002 Bali bombings.

Police have said they are also probing terrorism as one possible reason for the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

A source familiar with the arrests told AFP on Monday that those detained were not linked to Jemaah Islamiyah or the disappearance of the jet.

The plane, carrying 239 people, is believed to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, but no sign of wreckage has been found despite weeks of search efforts.
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2014-04-26 Southeast Asia
Agus Dwikarna was a Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) operative who, according to the UN, guided al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri on a trip to Aceh. This alleged Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist from Sulawesi disappeared just days after coming home from the Philippines, where he had been imprisoned since 2002 on charges of possessing illegal explosives.

He returned in early January and spent a few days at his home in Makassar, but his whereabouts since are unknown, Indonesian officials say.

Agus was serving a 17-year sentence when the Philippines deported him to Indonesia. The Philippines convicted him twelve years ago for trying to board a flight to Bangkok from Manila with C-4 plastic explosives and bomb parts in his possession.

Though Agus denied those charges, he had an extensive history of involvement in terrorist activities, according to the UN. In September 2003, the UN's Security Council Committee listed him among people with alleged ties to al-Qaeda and direct involvement with the terror group's most senior leaders.

Until his 2002 arrest in Manila, Agus was "a major figure" of Laskar Jundullah in Makassar, military wing of the Indonesian Mujahedeen Council (MMI). He also worked as a regional head of the Indonesian branch of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, which funnelled al-Qaeda money into the region and gave its operatives cover as charity workers.

According to reports, apart from running a Sulawesi training camp, Agus escorted two of al-Qaeda's top leaders on a tour of Aceh Province: Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohammed Atef, head of al-Qaeda's military wing, who has since been killed. According to the UN, the two al-Qaeda leaders visited Aceh in June 2002, but other sources date their trip to June 2000.
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2014-03-15 Terror Networks
[PJ Media] "Serious transnational threat" Jemaah Islamiyah has been finding new footing in a post-Osama world.

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2014-02-02 Syria-Lebanon-Iran
[An Nahar] Indonesians who have joined fellow bully boyz fighting in Syria could help reinvigorate a once-powerful bully boy group responsible for major bombings in the world's most populous Moslem country, a report said.

"The conflict in Syria has captured the imagination of Indonesian bully boyz in a way no foreign war has before," said a report by Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict published this week.

It is a change of pattern for Indonesian faceless myrmidons who previously have gone to Afghanistan in the late 1980s and 1990s mainly for training, or to the Paleostinian territories to give moral and financial support to fellow Moslems, the report said.

"The enthusiasm for Syria is directly linked to predictions in Islamic eschatology that the final battle at the end of time will take place in Sham, the region sometimes called Greater Syria, or the Levant, encompassing Syria, Jordan, Leb, Paleostine and Israel," the report added.

This notion has attracted Indonesians from different radical streams to go or try to go to Syria, including the Jemaah Islamiyah, or JI, a group responsible for the 2002 bombings on the resort island of Bali which killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.
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2013-08-10 Southeast Asia
A Malaysian wanted by the U.S. for terrorist activities in southeast Asia is hiding in territory held by Moro militants in this province, according to a senior Bangsamoro leader Another source said a member of the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah is also hiding in the province of Sultan Kudarat.

Von Al Haq, spokesman for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said that Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, is being safeguarded by a breakaway group led by Ameril Umra Kato. Kato, formerly a MILF commander, broke away from the MILF in 2008 over disagreements with fellow militant leaders over negotiations with the government.

He has since founded the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM) whose armed wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), has been involved in recent attacks on government security forces in Maguindanao, including a roadside bomb attack that injured seven soldiers on Wednesday.

Al Haq said Marwan may have played a role in the Aug. 5 bombing in Cotabato City that killed eight people and injured nearly 30 others. He said, "That's what we got on the ground. He's hiding among BIFF members. We also got feedback from residents (of areas) near BIFF camps."

A military source said an Indonesian national was among those killed in a recent military operation against the BIFF in Datu Piang. In a separate statement, Col. Dickson Hermoso said there was an intelligence report that a Jemaah Islamiyah member had been spotted among Moro militants in Datu Piang. But BIFF spokesman Abu Misry Mama denied his group had ties with Marwan or any Jemaah Islamiyah member.
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2013-05-25 Southeast Asia
At least seven Filipino marines and four Abu Sayyaf militants were killed in a clash Saturday as the military launched an offensive against al-Qaida-linked gunmen who have been blamed for recent kidnappings and of trying to sabotage a road project in the southern Philippines.

Nine other marines and about 10 Abu Sayyaf fighters were wounded in the gunbattle that raged for an hour in a sparsely populated village on the fringes of the coastal town of Patikul in Sulu province, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan said.

Reinforcement troops were hunting down the fleeing militants, who were believed led by Julaswan Sawadjaan, an Abu Sayyaf commander blamed for kidnappings for ransom, including of a Jordanian journalist and two European tourists, who are still held by the militants.

A son of Sawadjaan was believed to have been killed in the firefight, Sulu's military commander, Col. Jose Cenabre, said, adding the marines initially had difficulty returning fire because the militants took cover near a row of houses.

Sawadjaan's men have been accused of last week's kidnapping of a Filipino marine's wife who works in a Sulu provincial hospital. The gunmen also recently abducted two government men working on a road project in Patikul. The two were freed last week but it was not clear if a ransom was paid, officials said.

While Abu Sayyaf abductions still occur, they are far fewer today than the massive kidnappings that terrorized Sulu and outlying provinces in the early 2000s when the group had many commanders and strong ties with terrorist organizations including the Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah.

U.S.-backed military offensives have crippled the Abu Sayyaf in recent years, but it remains a national security threat. Washington has the group as a terrorist organization.
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2013-04-29 Southeast Asia
A Philippine military commander says two army intelligence officers have been killed by suspected al-Qaeda-linked terrorists militants while on a surveillance mission on Basilan Island.

Col. Carlito Galvez says two suspected Abu Sayyaf terrorists militants on a motorcycle gunned down the two soldiers Sunday in Lamitan city. The gunmen are believed to be part of an urban-based hit squad.

Galvez says the Abu Sayyaf has also given sanctuary on the island to some foreign terrorists militants linked to Jemaah Islamiyah.
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2013-02-10 Southeast Asia
[Ynet] Malaysian prosecutors have charged an al-Qaeda-linked former army captain and a woman with inciting terrorist acts that could have involved violence in Syria.

Yazid Sufaat, who previously spent seven years in detention without trial, and Halimah Hussein face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
Yazid's been romping around for awhile in Malaysia, one those connect the dots kind of guys. He was the host of a meeting attended by several al-Q bigs, including at least two of the 9-11 hijackers -- Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. He helped provide cover for Zacarias Moussaoui in his wanderings. He was jugged in, I think, 2002, when he came back from Afghanistan. He's a biochemist by training and had been an instructor at al-Q's Derunta biowarfare training camp. He was held until November, 2008. He was released because he promised to be good:
"We released him as he had shown remorse and repentance after almost seven years of rehabilitation,"said Malaysian Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan.
He was one of the major links between al-Q and Jemaah Islamiyah, being BFFs with Hambali. Malaysia didn't take that sort of thing nearly as seriously as Indonesia ended up taking it after the Bali bombings. Had he been in Indonesia, he probably would have ended up with some serious jug time, if not a death penalty.
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2013-02-10 Southeast Asia
[NST.MY] Yazid Sufaat's wife is going to stand by her man no matter how long it takes.
"Stand by yer man,"
She was adamant that he had done nothing wrong since his release from detention under the Internal Security Act in 2008 and has been spending all his time with his family.
"Give him two arms to cling to"
"I do not know what he did before his arrest under the ISA but I do know that he was always with me and our children since," said Chomel Mohamad,
"And somethin' warm to come to "
adding that her family are prepared for the long trial ahead.
"When nights are cold and lonely "
She further added that since his release, Yazid had always remained by her side, helping her at their drinks stall in the court cafeteria. Commenting on his arrest, the 48-year-old said she and Yazid had returned from the market and was packing cakes at their stall when she spotted the officer that had previously detained her husband in 2001.
"Yazid! It's da cops! Quick, under da lemonade box!"
"There were at least 15 plainclothes policemen surrounding the stall,
"Dey got us surrounded, Yazid!"
and our assistant (Mohd Hilmi Hasim) was immediately handcuffed.
"Put the cuffs on him, Mahoney!"

"My husband was washing his hands at the sink when the police just grabbed and handcuffed him," Chomel told reporters outside the Ampang court complex, here, today.
"Look like yer doin' somethin' innocent!"
Chomel said Yazid asked the police repeatedly why he was being arrested but no one answered him.
"Yez got nuttin' on me, coppers! Nuttin'!"
When asked her opinion on why her husband was arrested, Chomel said that her husband had mentioned the name "Fikrie" (Mohd Noor Fikrie Abd Kahar). Fikrie, 26, was a member of the Malaysian Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), who was shot dead by security forces in the Philippines last December.
"Fikrie! Dey got Fikrie!"
Chomel said police then took Yazid to their home in Taman Bukit Ampang, where they searched the premises for four hours. She was also there, accompanied by lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri.
"I ain't sayin' nuttin' widdout me mout'piece!"
"They took away several Islamic books, the Internet modem and laptop," said the mother of four.
"My emails! Da secret plans! Da codes! Dis don't look good!"
...back at the the conspirators' cleverly concealed hideout the long-awaited message arrived. They quickly got to work with their decoder rings...
Chomel's stall at the court complex was operating as usual today.
"Lemonade! Lemonade! Have some nice Islamic lemonade!"
His son, Zufar Arif, 21, was handling the business with several workers. Zufar, the second of four siblings, said he only knew of his father's arrest on Thursday afternoon while he was driving back to the city from a public university in Dungun.
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2013-01-09 Southeast Asia
[An Nahar] Terror suspects killed or captured in raids last week were planning to launch attacks on tourism spots in Indonesia, national police said Tuesday.

An anti-terror police squad rubbed out seven suspects and nabbed
Please don't kill me!
four others on Sulawesi and Sumbawa islands in central Indonesia last week.

"An investigation revealed that tourism spots in the town of Bima (on Sumbawa) and Tana Toraja in south Sulawesi were targets," said national police front man Boy Rafli Amar.

Tana Toraja, whose population is mainly Christian, is one of Sulawesi's most popular tourist destinations.

"We're lucky we managed to prevent the attacks from happening," he said, adding that a Bima hotel, places of worship and police offices were also targets.

Police have said the men were connected to a bully boy training camp and had been involved in killings of police in Sulawesi's Poso district, a known hotbed of bully boy activity.

In two raids on bully boy camps in Sumbawa on Saturday, police seized five pipe-bombs and materials to make bombs, such as nitrate urea powder, scores of nails and batteries.

They also rubbed out five men from the group led by the country's most-wanted terror suspect Santoso, who has allegedly trained young snuffies to launch attacks on security forces.

Two suspects were rubbed out at a university mosque Friday in southern Sulawesi.

Police have strengthened security in Poso since late last year after two coppers investigating a camp were found with their throats slit. Several small bomb plots were subsequently foiled.

Indonesia was rocked by a series of deadly terror attacks targeted at Westerners during the last decade. Most -- including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people -- were blamed on the al-Qaeda-linked group Jemaah Islamiyah.
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2012-12-15 Southeast Asia
A man with alleged ties to Islamic militants was shot dead in the Philippines after he threatened to set off a backpack bomb in a stand-off with local police, an official said on Saturday.

A suspect identified by police as Mohammad Noor Fikrie of Malaysia was killed in the southern city of Davao late on Friday after he threatened to blow up an explosive device in a rucksack, city police chief Ronald de la Rosa said.

"'If you arrest or shoot me I have a bomb. I will explode it,'" de la Rosa quoted the suspect as telling police at the lobby of a hotel during a three-and-a-half-hour stand-off.

The authorities had raided the hotel after a tip-off that one of its guests was planning a "terror" attack in the city of 1.4 million people, de la Rosa told reporters, without elaborating on the source of the information.

He said the Malaysian was a suspected member of Jemaah Islamiyah, an Islamic militant group blamed for attacks in Southeast Asia including the Bali bombing in Indonesia in 2002 that claimed 202 lives.

While in the hotel lobby the suspect brandished a mobile phone, which, he said was the trigger for the explosives contained in the backpack that was being carried by his Filipina wife, de la Rosa said.

The warning triggered a stampede by guests and hotel staff for the exits and the suspect and his wife took advantage of the ensuing chaos to flee the building and run to a nearby park, the official said.

The couple weaved among park visitors in a bid to shake off the authorities, but when they reached a deserted area police snipers opened fire, killing the man, de la Rosa said.

He said police arrested the woman, Anabelle Nieva Lee, and disarmed an "improvised explosive device" that included a mortar shell retrieved from the backpack.

Authorities are investigating the woman's possible involvement with Jemaah Islamiyah, de la Rosa said, adding police believe she had converted to Islam when she married the Malaysian.

Philippine authorities said a small number of Jemaah Islamiyah militants have taken refuge with Filipino Muslim militants operating on the southern island of Mindanao.
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2012-11-02 Southeast Asia
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.
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2012-11-01 Southeast Asia
Marine troops have intensified pursuit operations against Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah members believed to be holding seven kidnap victims in Sulu province, according to a senior naval officer.

Rear Admiral Armando Guzman, chief of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM), overseeing the Marines' operation in Sulu, said naval blocking operations also have continued in the coast of Sulu to prevent the terrorists militants from slipping out of the province. He said, "This is a normal combat operation designed to constrict the movement of the Abu Sayyaf."

Marines encountered a group of Abu Sayyaf terrorists bandits over the weekend. Ten terrorists bandits and four Marines were killed in the six-hour encounter.
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2012-09-13 Southeast Asia
On November 6, 2011, a Filipino man uploaded a video on YouTube. In the video he wore a camouflage jacket and a mask covered his face and head. In Arabic he asked Muslims to support and contribute to the jihad in the Philippines.

Identified as Commander Abu Jihad Khalil al-Rahman al-Luzon, the man called on Muslims to unite, saying there was "no way to restore the Islamic Caliphate and the glory of the religion but through jihad."

It triggered a big reaction in the Philippines, triggering a wave of videos, letters and audio messages from Filipino jihadists which were promoted on al-Qaeda linked sites and jihadist websites like Shumukh al-Islam and Ansar al-Mujahideen English Forum (AMEF).

Sources from 3 different countries say that Abu Jihad Khalil is 31-year old Khalil Pareja, a Christian convert to Islam who became the leader of the Rajah Solaiman Movement in 2005. RSM worked closely with the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah.

Their alliance carried out at least two attacks: the Superferry bombing in 2004, one of the worst maritime terrorist attacks in history; and the Valentine's Day bombings in 2005 -- two near-simultaneous explosions in General Santos City and Davao City, followed an hour later by an explosion on a bus in Makati.

A Philippine intelligence report said that Pareja not only made jihadi posts on YouTube, he was also active on Facebook -- a case study of how one man can connect jihadis and terrorists from many countries through social media.
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2012-09-10 Southeast Asia
[An Nahar] A suspected turban was critically injured when a bomb apparently being prepared for terrorist attacks went kaboom! at a house near Indonesia's capital, police said Sunday. At least three other people living nearby were maimed, and witnesses said one of two suspects who fled also appeared to have suffered an injury.

An elite anti-terror squad was searching for the two men who reportedly escaped after the strong blast went off late Saturday in Depok, a town on the outskirts of Jakarta, said National Police front man Maj. Gen. Anang Iskandar. The incident came just days after police raided another home in Jakarta where bomb-making materials were found in connection with a terrorist group that allegedly plotted to kill police and bomb the country's parliament building.

Iskandar said police at the latest site found a badly injured man whose left hand had been cut off. Bomb-making devices were found scattered around him.

"We suspect he was making bombs when one of them detonated prematurely," Capt. Agus Widodo, a local police chief in Depok, told news hounds at the scene. "His condition is critical. We cannot talk to him."

He said the man also suffered burns covering up to 70 percent of his face and body.

Police questioned five people living near the rented house -- listed as an orphanage foundation office and herbal clinic, but never opened to the public -- including two injured men and a woman with slight wounds to her head.

They told Sherlocks that they saw two men flee on a cycle of violence just after the blast, and that one of them managed to jump a fence even though he appeared maimed, Widodo said.

"It was actually a turban safe house from evidence found there," Widodo said, adding that a group was apparently preparing bombs for terrorist attacks.

Police seized a big haul of bomb-making materials, including six pipe bombs, three grenades, two machine guns and a Berreta pistol, Iskandar said in a text message. A bomb squad team was investigating the explosives that were packed with nails to maximize impact.

The incident came amid a security crackdown in recent days in which two beturbanned goons were killed and three others placed in long-term storage
Maw! They're comin' to get me, Maw!
. Just four days earlier, police found bomb-making materials at another home in Jakarta, where suspected bomb maker Muhammad Toriq lived, but managed to escape when police raided his house.

Iskandar said there was a resemblance between Toriq and the man at death's door. He said police would conduct a DNA test after gathering a sample from Toriq's mother to determine if the identities match, adding that explosives found in Depok were similar to the homemade bombs discovered at Toriq's home.

Toriq is believed to be linked to a turban group that planned to shoot police and bomb the parliament building to wage "holy war" and establish an Islamic state.

Indonesia, a secular nation with more Mohammedans than any other in the world, has been battling Death Eaters since 2002, when beturbanned goons linked to the Southeast Asian network Jemaah Islamiyah started attacking Western nightclubs, restaurants and embassies.
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2012-09-09 Southeast Asia
[An Nahar] Arrested Indonesian terror suspects have revealed plots on the parliament building and to attack police in the name of jihad, a bigwig said Friday.

Two different terror groups planned to attack the country's parliament in Jakarta and plotted bomb and gunfire attacks on police in the central Java city of Solo, the country's counter-terrorism agency's chief Ansyad Mbai said.

"We worked with the anti-terror police squad to intensify hunting for suspects still on the lam and also stepped up security measures to anticipate any possible attacks," he told Agence La Belle France La Belle France.

Bayu Setiono, 22, who was incarcerated
Please don't kill me!
following a shootout last week in Solo that left two terrorist suspects and an anti-terror officer dead, said his group plotted more attacks.

"Our plan is to break up Solo like what happened in Ambon and Poso. We want to uphold Islamic Sharia and create a Moslem caliphate in Indonesia," he said referring to violence between Moslems and Christians, killing thousands in early 2000.

In an interrogation video released by police on Thursday, Setiono said they targeted police as they were considered as infidels for arresting and killing Islamist hard boys.

Another terror suspect said he surveyed the parliament building three times before he was incarcerated
Please don't kill me!
by police in July, the senior anti-terror official Mbai told AFP without giving details about what stage the plot had reached.

"There are several small groups which their underground works are not related to each other, but they all came from the Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) and the Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT)," he added.

JAT, dubbed a terrorist organization by the United States, was founded in 2008 by incarcerated
Maw! They're comin' to get me, Maw!
radical holy man Abu Bakar Bashir
... Leader of the Indonesian Mujahedeen Council and proprietor of the al-Mukmin madrassah in Ngruki. The spriritual head of Jemaah Islamiya, which he denies exists. Bashir was jugged and then released in the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings, which he blamed on a conspiracy among the U.S., Israel, and Australia ...
Moslem-majority Indonesia suffered a series of deadly attacks over the last decade by terror network JI -- blamed for the Bali bombings in 2002 that left 202 dead. There has not been a major incident since 2009 but experts believe small cells are still ready to attack. Police on Thursday launched a manhunt after finding kabooms at a house in Jakarta.
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2012-07-30 Southeast Asia
[An Nahar] Philippine authorities have tossed in the clink
You have the right to remain silent...
a founding member of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf
...also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya, an Islamist terror group based in Jolo, Basilan and Zamboanga. Since its inception in the early 1990s, the group has carried out bombings, kidnappings, murders, head choppings, and extortion in their uniquely Islamic attempt to set up an independent Moslem province in the Philippines. Abu Sayyaf forces probably number less than 300 cadres. The group is closely allied with remnants of Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiya and has loose ties with MILF and MNLF who sometimes provide cannon fodder...

...a small group of Islamic bandidos that has been blamed for most of the country's worst terror attacks, kidnapping foreigners, and chopping people's heads off. They are allied with Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiyah, or what's left of it...
group blamed for some of the worst terror attacks in the region, security officials said on Sunday.

Ustadz Ahmadsali Asmad Badron, also known as Ammad or Hamad Ustadz Idris, was tossed in the clink
You have the right to remain silent...
on Saturday in the remote Tawi-Tawi islands in the southern Philippines.

Police criminal investigation regional chief Edgar Danao said Badron was one of the original members of Abu Sayyaf, which was founded in the 1990s using seed money from al-Qaeda leader the late Osama bin Laden
... who used to be but now ain't...

"Badron was among the trusted members of (Abu Sayyaf) who made millions of pesos in ransom money collected from their operations," Danao said.

Along with one of his cousins Badron worked alongside Galib Andang, a notorious Abu Sayyaf leader well known as "Commander Robot".

The group carried out a daring cross-border raid on a Malaysian resort in April 2000 and kidnapped dozens of foreign tourists.

It gained Abu Sayyaf international notoriety even as the hostages were freed in batches after millions were paid following ransom negotiations brokered by Libya, officials said.

The group has also been blamed for the worst bad boy attacks in Philippine history including a ferry bombing in Manila in 2004 that killed more than 100 people.

Subsequent U.S.-backed operations against Abu Sayyaf led to the killing of key leaders, while many others including Andang were tossed in the clink
You have the right to remain silent...
, but he was later killed in a botched attempt to escape in 2005.

While on the run, Badron allegedly helped foreign forces of Evil from another regional terror group, the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), to hide in the southern Philippines.
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2012-07-18 Southeast Asia
Islamic extremists in Indonesia are regrouping despite a decade-long crackdown that has weakened the deadliest networks, the International Crisis Group think-tank has said.

Militants are finding each other and building new cells "on the run, in prison and through Internet forums, military training camps and arranged marriages", the report said, saying the threat of terrorism was far from over.

Strengthened anti-terror units have divided cells such as Jemaah Islamiyah, but smaller groups have formed and carried out low-impact attacks.

International Crisis Group (ICG) senior adviser Sidney Jones said in a statement. "Fortunately for Indonesia, most of these would-be terrorists have been singularly inept. But there are signs that at least some are learning lessons from their mistakes and becoming more strategic in their thinking. The danger is not over."

In early 2010, police discovered a training camp in Aceh province "involving all major jihadi groups in the country", according to the report, "How Indonesian Extremists Regroup".

After around 200 people were arrested and some 30 suspects killed over the following two years, new alliances emerged, dormant cells were revived and recruits were made "through internet chatting, prison visits and radical lectures".

ICG Southeast Asia project director Jim Della-Giacoma said officials in Indonesia had been lucky because the extremists had often not been competent. He said, "Ten years after Bali, there are virtually no effective programs in place to address the conditions that allow jihadi ideology to flourish."
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2012-07-17 Southeast Asia
MUSLIM faceless myrmidons in Indonesia are regrouping despite a decade-long crackdown that has weakened the deadliest networks, the International Crisis Group think-tank has said.

Islamists are finding each other and building new cells "on the run, in prison and through Internet forums, military training camps and arranged marriages", the report said, warning the threat of terrorism was far from over.

Beefed-up anti-terror units have divided cells such as Jemaah Islamiyah - blamed for the 2002 twin bombings on Bali that killed 202 people - but smaller groups have formed and carried out low-impact attacks.

"Fortunately for Indonesia, most of these would-be Orcs and similar vermin have been singularly inept,"
"Fortunately for Indonesia, most of these would-be Orcs and similar vermin have been singularly inept," International Crisis Group (ICG) senior adviser Sidney Jones said in a statement.

"But there are signs that at least some are learning lessons from their mistakes and becoming more strategic in their thinking. The danger is not over."

In early 2010, police discovered a training camp in Aceh province, on the northern tip of Sumatra, "involving all major jihadi groups in the country", according to the report, "How Indonesian Extremists Regroup".

After around 200 people were cooled for a few years
Book 'im, Mahmoud!
and some 30 suspects killed over the following two years, new alliances emerged, dormant cells were revived and recruits were made "through internet chatting, prison visits and radical lectures".

ICG Southeast Asia project director Jim Della-Giacoma said police in Indonesia - the world's most populous Mohammedan country - had been lucky because the faceless myrmidons had been incompetent in many cases.

"Ten years after Bali, there are virtually no effective programs in place to address the conditions that allow jihadi ideology to flourish," he said.
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2012-05-22 Southeast Asia
Indonesian prosecutors on Monday asked for a life sentence rather than the death penalty for Umar Patek, the bombmaker accused of being behind the Bali attacks that killed 202 people.

When the trial started in February prosecutors had said they would seek capital punishment for Patek, who was held last year in the Pak town of Abbottabad
... A pleasant city located only 30 convenient miles from Islamabad. The city is noted for its nice weather and good schools. It is the site of Pakistain's military academy, which was within comfortable walking distance of the residence of the late Osama bin Laden....
, four months before al-Qaeda chief the late Osama bin Laden
... who can now be reached at RFD Boneyard...
was killed there.

Prosecutor Bambang Suharyadi told the West Jakarta District Court that Patek had been proved guilty of premeditated murder, but they were seeking a lighter sentence because he had been remorseful and cooperative.

"We the prosecutors recommend... the defendant Umar Patek be given a life sentence," Suharyadi told the court. "He has been polite and cooperative during the trial and regretted what he has done."

Patek, 45, is accused of assembling bombs for the attacks on two nightclubs on the resort island on October 12, 2002 which killed many Western tourists, including 88 Australians, and on churches in Jakarta on Christmas Eve 2000.

Patek on Monday repeated an apology he made earlier this month to the relatives of the dead.

"I regret what I have done... (and) I apologize to the families of victims who died -- Indonesians and foreigners," he said.

Patek is accused of being the expert bombmaker for Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a Southeast Asian terror network linked to Al-Qaeda.

He denies he led the bombmaking for the Bali attacks, admitting to playing only a small role. He confessed to mixing the chemicals for the explosives, but claimed he did not know how the bombs would be used.

Patek allegedly used simple household tools including a rice ladle to assemble the Bali bombs, which according to the court indictment were housed in ordinary filing cabinets.

He was tossed in the clink
I ain't sayin' nuttin' widdout me mout'piece!
in Abbottabad in January last year. Evidence in the trial suggested bin Laden gave JI $30,000 to wage jihad in the region and Patek might have met him in the Pak town -- a claim he has repeatedly denied.
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2012-05-08 Southeast Asia
The terror suspect accused of building bombs used in the 2002 Bali nightclub attacks has apologized for the first time to victims.
Umar Patek, a leading member of the al-Qaeda-linked network Jemaah Islamiyah, said he was against the bombings that killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists, from the start.
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2012-04-20 Southeast Asia
[An Nahar] An FBI agent testifying in the trial of the suspected Bali bomb-maker said Thursday the accused had been identified as an explosives expert by other Islamic beturbanned goons and had planned to kill U.S. troops.

Indonesian prosecutors accuse Umar Patek, who was locked away last year in the same Pak town where U.S. commandos later killed al-Qaeda chief the late Osama bin Laden
... who was laid out deader than a mackerel...
, of constructing the bombs that killed 202 people, mostly Westerners.

Frank Pellegrino, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who interrogated many Islamic beturbanned goons following the 9/11 attacks in the United States, arrived in Bali shortly after the October 2002 nightclub bombings on the holiday island.

Pellegrino said he interrogated around 20 Islamic beturbanned goons, most from the al-Qaeda-linked Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), of which Patek is believed to be a key member and which was behind the Bali attacks.

"Many did know Mr. Patek and all described him -- especially after the time of Bali bombings -- as a leader, a bomb-maker, a well-known bomb-maker who knew how to mix chemicals and knew how to teach people how to mix chemicals," Pellegrino testified at the trial at the West Jakarta District Court.

Pellegrino was one of the FBI agents responsible for tracking self-confessed 9/11 criminal mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was caught by Pak authorities on March 1, 2003.

He said the FBI had already been looking into JI because of threats of an attack on the U.S. embassy in Singapore in 2001.

Patek's name was quickly known by the FBI after the Bali attacks, Pellegrino said.

"A very famous sketch was drawn of what he looked like," he told the court. "We realized pretty quickly it was Jemaah Islamiyah," he added.

Pellegrino said he had many discussions with Indonesian police following the Bali attacks about Patek's activities in Afghanistan, where the suspected bomb-maker is known to have trained.

"He continued being a terrorist, he continued making bombs and was planning to attack U.S. troops in the Philippines," he testified.

Patek, 45, went on trial in February, charged with murder, bomb-making and illegal firearms possession. Prosecutors say they will push for the death penalty.

Three JI members -- ringleader Imam Samudra and the brothers Mukhlas and Amrozi -- were executed by firing squad in November 2008 for their roles in the Bali bombings.

According to the indictment, Patek was involved in assembling the bombs for the attacks and also strikes on churches in Jakarta on Christmas Eve 2000.
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2012-04-06 Southeast Asia
JAKARTA, Indonesia: Four foreign victims of the 2002 Bali bombings testified Thursday in the trial of an Indonesian militant accused of helping to build the massive car bomb used in the terrorist attack.

Australians Jason McCartney, Peter Hughes and Stuart Anstee and American Steven William Cabler told an Indonesian court how explosives carried in a backpack and a van destroyed two packed nightclubs. The attack was Asia’s most deadly terror strike and killed 202 people, including 88 Australians and seven Americans.

Umar Patek, 45, a leading member of the Al-Qaeda-linked network Jemaah Islamiyah, was arrested last year in Pakistan. He is the last key suspect to be tried in the Bali bombings and faces a possible death penalty if found guilty of various terror-related and criminal charges.

Prosecutors plan to use the testimonies of the foreign victims to support their sentencing demand.
Their specific stories are at the link.
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2012-02-19 Terror Networks
A top Indonesian terror suspect captured in the Pakistani town where Osama bin Laden was later killed insists he was unaware of the al-Qaeda leader's presence there, according to the video of his interrogation obtained by The Associated Press.
Alleged master bomb maker Umar Patek also described his frustration in re-establishing militant ties in his quest to go to Afghanistan and fight American soldiers. His remarks, if true, would further bolster evidence that Southeast Asia's Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist movement, responsible for the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, is now largely cut off from its long-standing al-Qaeda sponsorship, thanks in part to a relentless crackdown that has largely decimated their ranks. (AP)
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2012-02-19 Terror Networks
A top Indonesian terror suspect captured in the Pak town where the late Osama bin Laden
... who sleeps with the fishes...
was later killed insists he was unaware of the al-Qaeda leader's presence there, according to the video of his interrogation obtained by The News Agency that Dare Not be Named.
The man has been singing like a bird for a while. Someone ought to buy him a nice dinner.
Alleged master bomb maker Umar Patek also described his frustration in re-establishing myrmidon ties in his quest to go to Afghanistan and fight American soldiers. His remarks, if true, would further bolster evidence that Southeast Asia's Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist movement, responsible for the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, is now largely cut off from its long-standing al-Qaeda sponsorship, thanks in part to a relentless crackdown that has largely decimated their ranks.
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2012-02-12 Southeast Asia
Long look at the bomb-builder of the Bali terrorist attack. Worth noting the connections to Abbottabad and his proximity to bin Laden for a time.
JAKARTA, Indonesia: An Indonesian militant charged in the 2002 Bali terrorist attacks told interrogators he spent weeks holed up in a rented house, painstakingly building a half-ton bomb using household items including a rice ladle, a grocer's scale and plastic bags.

A transcript of the Umar Patek's interrogation obtained by The Associated Press offers extraordinary detail of the Bali plot just days before Patek -- a radical once Southeast Asia's most-wanted bomb-making suspect -- goes on trial in Jakarta for his alleged role in the nightclub attack that killed 202 people.

Patek, known as "Demolition Man" for his expertise with explosives, says he and other conspirators stashed the 1,540-pound (700-kilogram) bomb in four filing cabinets, loaded them in a Mitsubishi L300 van along with a TNT vest bomb. The van was detonated outside two nightclubs on Bali's famous Kuta beach on Oct. 12, 2002. Most of those killed were foreign tourists.

Although homemade bombs are easily assembled by militants all over the world, making such powerful devices as those used in Bali -- and using such unsophisticated equipment -- would have taken enormous amount of care and expertise.

Patek, 45, goes on trial Monday following a nine-year flight from justice that took him from Indonesia to the Philippines to Pakistan, reportedly in pursuit of more terrorism opportunities. He was finally caught in January 2011 in the same Pakistani town where US Navy Seals would kill Osama Bin Laden just a few months later.
Boy howdy, what a coincidence. Wonder if he and Binny shared the community pool?
Patek was hiding out in a second-floor room of a house in Abbottabad, a $1 million bounty on his head, when Pakistani security forces, acting on a tip from the CIA, burst in. After a firefight that left Patek wounded, he was captured and extradited to Indonesia.
Should have been extradited to Diego Garcia...
His capture was seen as a yardstick of the successes that Asian security forces, with US help, have achieved against Jemaah%20Islamiyah>Jemaah Islamiyah, the Al-Qaeda-linked regional terror group blamed for the Bali bombings and several other attacks in Indonesia. All its other leaders have been executed, killed by security forces, or are on death row.

Patek is charged with premeditated murder, hiding information about terrorism, illegal possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit terrorism, and now faces a possible death sentence as well. The indictment also accuses Patek of providing explosives for a string of Christmas Eve attacks on churches in 2000 that claimed 19 lives.

Interviews with intelligence officials in Indonesia and the Philippines, the interrogation report and other documents obtained by the AP reveal the peripatetic life Patek led after the Bali attacks as he ranged widely and freely, often without passing through immigration checks, while allegedly passing along his bomb-making skills to other terrorists.

Patek, whose real name is Hisyam bin Alizein, is the son of a goat meat trader. He went to computer school and learned English before being recruited into Jemaah Islamiyah by Dulmatin, a fellow militant who was gunned down by Indonesian police in March 2010.

After his arrest, Patek told his interrogators that he learned to make bombs during a 1991-1994 stint at a militant academy in Pakistan's Sadda province, and later in Turkhom, Afghanistan, where bomb-making courses ranged "from basic to very difficult."

He said he was living in Solo, Indonesia, when mastermind Imam Samudra approached him to make a bomb in Bali. He agreed and flew to Denpasar, Bali's capital, and was taken to a rented house.

"In one room of the house, I began to mix the explosive ingredients, which were already in the rental house," he said. "For about three weeks, I made the explosive ingredients into black powder with the assistance of Sawad (a co-conspirator). For tools used in the mixing of the ingredients, I used (a) scale that will usually be used in a food store, rice ladle and plastic bags as containers."

Dulmatin separately worked on the electronic circuits, which were later attached as detonators to the bombs packed into the filing cabinets.

"When we were lifting the filing cabinets into the white L300 van, an explosion occurred which was caused by friction of the filing cabinet with the floor of the room, because the floor still had some leftover black powder on it," he said.

Patek left Bali a few days before the attacks were carried out.

Afterward, officials said, Patek and Dulmatin went to the Philippines and allegedly joined forces with the local extremist group Abu Sayyaf, spending the next several years training militants and plotting attacks, including against US troops in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Imam Samudra and two other masterminds of the Bali attacks -- brothers Amrozi Nurhasyim and Ali Ghufron -- were caught, tried and executed.

Patek returned to Indonesia in June 2009, living in various rented houses in Jakarta. He held several meetings with radicals and aspiring militants at home and held assault rifle and bomb-making training sessions at a beach in Banten near Jakarta.

But Patek's heart was set on going to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taleban or other extremist groups, said Ansyaad Mbai, Indonesia's anti-terrorism chief. He told the AP that Patek intended to continue his fight in a more defined battleground with a larger radical group, and refused Dulmatin's offer to become an instructor in a new militant camp in Indonesia's Aceh province.

"He wanted to fight with a larger extremist group, and Afghanistan was the ideal battleground for him," Mbai said.

But to reach Afghanistan, he would have to go to Pakistan first. A police investigator said that a 37-year-old Pakistani in Indonesia, Nadeem Akhtar, helped Patek get a Pakistani visa from his embassy in Jakarta.
Why not just print up a fresh one?
After Patek arrived in Lahore, a courier with links to Al-Qaeda then brought him to Abbottabad, possibly to meet with Bin Laden.

Mbai did not rule out the possibility that Patek went to Abbottabad to not only gain a foothold into Afghanistan but also to obtain funds for setting up a militant training camp in Jolo in southern Philippines. But before he could make much progress or meet Bin Laden, he was caught.

Patek's trial not only seeks justice for the Bali bombings, but also is a coup for intelligence officials. He is believed to have valuable information about Al-Qaeda and its links with Jemaah Islamiyah, which was founded by Indonesian exiles in Malaysia in the early 1990s.

The Bali bombing remains JI's most spectacular attack. Though there have been several others since, but none as deadly. Analysts credit a crackdown that has netted more than 700 militants since 2000, including the death of several key leaders in police action.
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2012-02-03 Southeast Asia
On Friday, the Philippine military said it has not been able to gather proof that it killed three of Southeast Asia's most-wanted terrorists, but insisted the trio had died in a US-backed airstrike.

Lieutenant Colonel Arnulfo Burgos said troops were sent to the isolated jungle area where Thursday's bombing took place on the remote southern island of Jolo, but did not find the bodies. He said the three senior leaders from the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) networks, as well as 12 others, had been taken away by fellow terrorists militants and quickly buried as per Muslim custom.

However he said the military was certain the trio had been killed based on intelligence assets. He said, "Yes, its an A-1 (information). We have something but we cannot divulge all the other information because its an operational (secret)."

Burgos said Friday that security forces were confident of finding the bodies of the slain leaders, or at least evidence that would allow DNA confirmation. But efforts to search the remote jungle location were hampered by gunfire from the surviving terrorists extremists. Regional military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Randloph Cabangbang said, "There is occasional gunfire. They fire from a distance, just to disrupt our operations."

The US military helped in Thursday's attack by providing intelligence support, according to military officials. Spokespeople at the US embassy in Manila did not comment on Thursday's attack, referring all questions to the Philippine military.

See also:
Terror alert raised for 'probable' revenge
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2012-02-02 Southeast Asia
At least 15 Islamic terrorists extremists, including three top leaders, were killed in an air raid in Sulu at dawn Thursday. Abu Sayyaf commander Umbra Jumdail, also known as Abu Pula, and Jemaah Islamiyah leaders Zulkifli bin Hir or Marwan, and Abdullah Ali, who uses the guerrilla name Muawiyah Anjala, were the senior leaders killed in the air strikes.

Zulkifli is a Malaysian leader of Jemaah Islamiyah>Jemaah Islamiyah, an explosive expert, and the over-all leader of the JI in the Philippines, said military spokesman Colonel Arnulfo Burgos. The US government has offered $5 million and P7.4 million reward for Zulkifli's capture.

Muawiyah, who goes by many aliases, is a Singaporean member of JI who fled to the Philippines shortly after the Bali bombings, according to a Philippine military intelligence source. He was a former member of the Singaporean military with the rank of Major. He was also a JI member affiliated with the Abu Sayyaf and had contact with Omar Patek, Burgos said. The US offered a $50,000 reward for his arrest.

Jumdail, a member of the Tausug ethnic group, is a founder and one of the top figures of the Abu Sayyaf group. He had warrants of arrest for 21 counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention and was involved in the 2000 kidnapping in Sipadan, Malaysia and the 2001 kidnapping in Dos Palmas resort in Palawan.

In a press briefing, Burgos said that the composite unit with elite troops from the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy and the Philippine Air Force first launched an air strike in Barangay Duyan Kabau, Parang town in Sulu to "soften the target" at around 3 a.m. Thursday. That attack lasted for only a few seconds before troops stormed the terror group's temporary camp, Burgos said.

The air strikes were conducted following tips from civilians that there were Abu Sayyaf and JI members in the area. Burgos said there were also reports that 30 terrorists, including six foreign JI members, arrived in Sulu last December.

Burgos said that no civilians were hurt in the operations, saying that this was a "thorough and deliberate" operation done after "months of intelligence gathering." Burgos added, "We want to assure the people of Sulu that the operation conducted was aimed against known members of the terrorist groups--Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah-- who intends to expand their presence in Mindanao."

See also:
Deaths 'a terrific blow' to terrorism in the Philippines
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2011-11-20 Home Front: Culture Wars
Sunday morning Coffer pot image
by lotp

Words and ideas matter. Whether we're aware of them or not, the ideas we absorb shape our lives and our choices in deep ways.

Often the ideas we form start with the stories we hear, like this very ancient one:
At the beginning of things, YHWH took a handful of mud and formed a creature. Bending down, he came close, so intimately close that his breath flowed into the nostrils of the creature and Adam ("made of earth") truly lived....

YHWH called Adam's descendent Abram to pick up his tents from the pastoral areas around wealthy Ur and to move his flocks through a long route to a new land, one that was not dominated by either the great city empires of the Two Rivers nor the chariots of Egypt. In that place-on-the-edge YHWH made a covenant with Abram, giving him a new name and the promise that the lands around him would be belong to his descendents. No more would they be homeless. And although for a while his descendents remained Hebraoi ("those who wander, the marginal ones") and even found themselves in bondage, YHWH led those who kept the covenant into the land promised to them. "When Israel was a child I loved him and I called my son out of Egypt".

Many centuries later an exile, looking back on his experiences through the lens of his education both in the commentaries of the children of Israel and also of the Greek philosophers, wrote a book with an audacious claim:

En arche en ho logos, kai ho logos en pros ton theon, kai theos en ho logos.

In those few words John packed layers of meaning. Arche means beginning of time, but also can be used to indicate social or legal prominence, power, causation.

Logos, too, carried layers of meaning: spoken word, the word of God through his prophets and by which He created. (It is significant that, unlike the seers of surrounding cultures, Hebrew prophets were not seized by ecstatic trances. Instead they heard YHWH speak intelligibly -- and sometimes argued back.)

But logos also meant 'meaning' itself, the truth behind words, the patterns and connections that raise the world from being a chaos of unpredictability to having purpose and resonance. And finally, John's readers who were educated in Greek learning would remember that the great Euclid used logos to describe the means by which things which are otherwise different in their very natures, such as number and space -- or God and man - could be brought into relationship with one another.

In the beginning (of time, of precedence, of causation) was the Logos (the word, the meaning, what makes meaning possible, what can bring us into relationship with what is otherwise totally beyond our power to reach). And that Logos was with God -- and that Logos was God.

That was John's claim. And so Christian theology was from its start grounded both in the stories of a very personal YHWH - a God who got his hands dirty and was intimately bound to his people in a complex and dramatic story of promise, suffering, fulfillment, disobedience, renewal -- and also in the challenge posed by Greek thought which celebrated human reason and sought to understand the very roots and heights of what is. Nor was such a theology entirely new, since there were already Jewish teachers who had pondered related matters with sophistication and devotion.

It is both the personally related God and the God of meaning, Robert Reilly tells us, that Islam rejected, with consequences that are playing out today.
The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Islamist Crisis chronicles the encounter of Islam with Hellenistic thought and Christian theology. Islam committed intellectual suicide, he writes, when those who sought to apply reason to theology were ultimately suppressed in favor of strong assertions that Allah was unknowable, utterly transcendent, arbirtrary in his demands and not subject in any way to human understanding -- only to obedience.

Hence this hadith:
The Holy Prophet said: Allah created Adam when he created him. Then He stroke his right shoulder and took out a white race as if they were seeds, and He stroke his left shoulder and took out a black race as if they were charcoal. Then He said to those who were on his right shoulder: Towards paradise and I don't care. And He said to those who were on his left shoulder: Towards Hell and I don't care.

Al-Ghazali and others used such passages to insist that God is not obligated in any way, including by his own nature. We must call him just, but he is not bound by any notion we might have of what justice entails. Philosophy has no place in theology, nor can the world be understood by it. Allah is, first, foremost, and totally, transcendent. Allah is pure will. He acts as he chooses, without limit. We cannot understand. We can only obey.

Reilly quotes many contemporary Muslim thinkers who are very aware of the disastrous results of such thinking in the Arab and broader Muslim world today: rejection of science, justification for despotism, a disconnect with reality, the inability to relate cause and effect.

One need not be a believer in any religious tradition for this book to be an important one to read. In this review I've fleshed out a few elements of Jewish and Christian thought that Reilly assumes, and highlighted only a small portion of the substantial evidence he assembles regarding the rejection of meaning that came to dominate Islam.

Nor is this merely a historical concern. The spiritual leader of Egypt's terror group Jemaah Islamiyah is quoted as specifically emphasizing the central importance in Islam of the concept of al-fikr kufr: by the very act of reasoning one becomes an infidel. Or, as Taliban placards in Afghanistan proclaim, "Throw reason to the dogs - it stinks of corruption."

But doctrine is one thing and daily life is another. Although many Muslims are poor and illiterate, others in the Islamic world who hear sermons about al-fikr kufr increasingly navigate a world filled with the products of science, the debates of reason and political systems in which the meaning of justice is a lively concern. Reilly quotes modern Muslims who call for a renewal of Islamic theology and a modern synthesis of faith with elements that were forced out centuries ago. Our media are full of stories about those who are chosing to cling ever more tightly to the abyss, instead.
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2011-10-03 Southeast Asia

JAKARTA - The Indonesian authorities said yesterday that they have captured one of their five most-wanted militants in connection with two suicide-bomb attacks this year.

The suspect, identified as Beni Asri, was arrested on Friday at his home in the town of Solok in West Sumatra, about 930km from the capital Jakarta, said police spokesman Anton Bachrul Alam.

Asri was brought to Jakarta to be questioned over a suicide bomb attack on a church in the Central Java town of Solo on Sept 25 that injured at least 20 people.

"We have a week to investigate," Mr Alam said.

The 26-year-old is also one of five men wanted for allegedly plotting an April suicide bombing that injured 30 police officers praying in a mosque in the West Java town of Cirebon.

Police suspect Asri has connections with members of a group founded by Abu Bakar Bashir, 73, the spiritual leader behind the 2002 Bali bombings, who was recently jailed for 15 years for planning attacks against foreigners and moderate Muslims, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Indonesia has been hit by a string of suicide bombings blamed on the Al Qaeda-linked network Jemaah Islamiyah and its offshoots since 2002, when the Bali bombings killed 202 people.

Subsequent attacks targeting restaurants and hotels have been far less deadly, however, and the last occurred more than two years ago, thanks in large to a security crackdown. But bombings by solo "jihadis" targeting Christians, security officers and Islamic sects deemed blasphemous by hard-liners have continued.

In a sign of the government's struggle to contain militancy, the authorities have blocked 300 Internet sites this year suspected of promoting terrorism and hatred.

Critics say the President, who relies heavily on Islamic parties in Parliament, has remained largely silent as minorities have been attacked by hard-liners or seen their houses of worship torched or closed. Agencies
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2011-10-03 Southeast Asia
JAKARTA - The Indonesian authorities said yesterday that they have captured one of their five most-wanted snuffies in connection with two suicide-kabooms this year.

The suspect, identified as Beni Asri, was tossed in the clink on Friday at his home in the town of Solok in West Sumatra, about 930km from the capital Jakarta, said police front man Anton Bachrul Alam.

Asri was brought to Jakarta to be questioned over a suicide kaboom on a church in the Central Java town of Solo on Sept 25 that injured at least 20 people.

"We have a week to investigate," Mr Alam said.

The 26-year-old is also one of five men wanted for allegedly plotting an April suicide kaboom that injured 30 coppers praying in a mosque in the West Java town of Cirebon.

Police suspect Asri has connections with members of a group founded by Abu Bakar Bashir
... Leader of the Indonesian Mujahedeen Council and proprietor of the al-Mukmin madrassah in Ngruki. The spriritual head of Jemaah Islamiya, which he denies exists. Bashir was jugged and then released in the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings, which he blamed on a conspiracy among the U.S., Israel, and Australia ...
, 73, the spiritual leader behind the 2002 Bali bombings, who was recently nabbed for 15 years for planning attacks against foreigners and moderate Mohammedans, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Indonesia has been hit by a string of suicide kabooms blamed on the Al Qaeda-linked network Jemaah Islamiyah and its offshoots since 2002, when the Bali bombings killed 202 people.

Subsequent attacks targeting restaurants and hotels have been far less deadly, however, and the last occurred more than two years ago, thanks in large to a security crackdown. But bombings by solo "jihadis" targeting Christians, security officers and Islamic sects deemed blasphemous by hard-liners have continued.

In a sign of the government's struggle to contain militancy, the authorities have blocked 300 Internet sites this year suspected of promoting terrorism and hatred.

Critics say the President, who relies heavily on Islamic parties in Parliament, has remained largely silent as minorities have been attacked by hard-liners or seen their houses of worship torched or closed. Agencies
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2011-08-19 Southeast Asia
MANILA, Philippines: A renegade commander said Thursday he has split from the Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group and formed a new group with hundreds of fighters to wage a war for a separate homeland.

Ameril Umbra Kato said in a cellphone interview from his jungle hide-out in southern Maguindanao province that he would not return to the main Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has threatened to expel him after he led a mutiny in December.

Kato denied allegations by Philippine security officials that he has links with Al-Qaeda-linked militants in the country’s volatile south and was involved in deadly bombings and terrorist attacks.

He said his new group would be known as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Front (BIFF). Its guerrilla wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, was organized in January, a month after he broke off from the main Muslim guerrilla force over differences with insurgent leaders.

“This is the true jihad, the true revolution,” Kato said.

Kato, who has about 200 to 300 fighters according to his former comrades, did not give details about his combat force or say what next steps he would take.

Kato, who is in his late 60s, said he left because his former group chose to “waste time” by deciding to negotiate with the government for expanded autonomy instead of waging a battle for an independent Muslim homeland that would liberate minority Muslims from crushing poverty and neglect.

“We’ve been going around and around wasting money and look where the peace talks have brought us,” Kato said. “The roots of the conflict have not been solved.”

The infighting within the main 11,000-strong rebel force underscores the complexity of the Muslim unrest that has claimed more than 120,000 lives and stunted growth in the impoverished but resource-rich south of the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines.

The main guerrilla force currently led by Murad Ebrahim split in 1978 from the former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which dropped its secessionist bid for autonomy and signed a landmark peace accord with Manila in 1996. Murad’s group dropped its bid for independence last year but demanded a more powerful type of autonomy with greater control over wider territory.

Murad’s group said Kato, who used to head one of its largest and most battle-tested commands, resigned last December, citing his age and poor health. But Kato then formed a breakaway group and accused Murad’s group of betraying the Muslim cause by going for autonomy instead of independence.

“They did that without consulting the Muslims. They cheated,” Kato said.

Philippine officials have expressed concern over the infighting, which they say casts doubts about the main rebel group’s ability to enforce any future accord in peace talks brokered by Malaysia.

Philippine security officials have accused Kato in the past of providing refuge to members of the Southeast Asian militant network Jemaah%20Islamiyah>Jemaah Islamiyah, the small but brutal Abu Sayyaf group and Filipino militants like Usman Basit who have been sought by US and Philippine authorities in connection with deadly bomb attacks.

“They have stained my names with all these allegations of bombing malls and bus terminals,” Kato said. “These are all big sins and un-Islamic. I have no contact with Al-Qaeda.”

“Who are the real terrorists?” he asked. “They are government troops who drop bombs anywhere even if there are civilians.”
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2011-08-11 India-Pakistan
[Pak Daily Times] Pakistain is preparing to fly to Indonesia an alleged criminal mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings months after his arrest from Abbottabad, officials said on Wednesday.

"We have to eventually hand over (Umar) Patek to the Indonesians and practically speaking, it can happen any time. But it is up to the Indonesians to intimate to us when they will take him back," a security official said.

Pakistain confirmed in March the arrest of the most-wanted Death Eater in Southeast Asia.

"The Indonesian authorities sought time to repatriate Patek as they were occupied in other cases back home," the Pak security official said.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said last week that the alleged coordinator of the 2002 Bali bombings, in which more than 200 people were killed, would be extradited to Indonesia "soon rather than later".

Born in 1970, Patek is a suspected member of the al Qaeda-linked Southeast Asian terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). In addition to the Bali bombings, he is also suspected of involvement in a series of deadly attacks targeting Christians and Westerners in Indonesia dating back to 1999.
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2011-08-06 India-Pakistan
[Dawn] An alleged criminal mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people will be repatriated soon to Indonesia from Pakistain where he was placed in long-term storage this year, the foreign minister said Friday.

The most wanted Islamic myrmidon in Southeast Asia, Umar Patek, was placed in long-term storage in March in Abbottabad in Pakistain, the same town where US special forces killed al Qaeda leader the late Osama bin Laden
... who no longer exists...
just weeks later.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said the alleged coordinator of the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people would be extradited to Indonesia "soon rather than later".

He told journalists the government wanted to ensure the process "proceeds smoothly" and did not give the alleged terrorist a stage to rally his supporters.

"We do not want to create self-fulfilling, self-creating attention to a person who doesn't deserve publicity," Natalegawa said.

Authorities are continuing to investigate Patek to "ensure that he is held accountable for the crime," which he allegedly committed before Indonesia had a specific anti-terrorism law on its books.

Born in 1970, Patek is a suspected member of the al Qaeda-linked Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

In addition to the Bali bombings, he is also suspected of involvement in a series of deadly attacks targeting Christians and Westerners in Indonesia dating back to 1999.
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2011-07-31 Southeast Asia
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. dispatched a military team to the Philippines to help the Manila government root out militant Islamic extremist groups. The terrorist threat is seen as much diminished since then but still active. The military mission remains in the Philippines as part of the U.S.-led global anti-terrorism campaign.

Rocky Zeender spent two years on what he calls the “forgotten front” of the war on terrorism - the Philippines.

"Nobody knows about it. Right now all the funding and all the military support is going into the Middle East. And by no means is the Philippines as large of a front as the Middle East. However, it does provide an enormous safe haven for some radical members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah to come and train in," Zeender said.

As a member of the U.S. Special Forces, a “Green Beret”, Zeender slogged through the jungles and across mountains of the southern Philippines with Philippine troops from 2008 to 2010 looking for militant Islamist groups, some of whom have had links to al-Qaida.

"You do have some very sporadic cities throughout Mindanao, although it would pretty much resemble any Vietnam movie anyone has ever watched - pretty much nothing but jungle and mountains and rice paddies. I spent most of my time up in the mountains. It was extremely dense jungle, extremely dense forest, very steep terrain, and very difficult to travel, sometimes impossible to travel, by vehicle, only by foot," Zeender said.

The Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines, numbering about 600 men and women from the four U.S. armed services with an annual $90 million budget in the current fiscal year, was created in 2002. Its mission, as the Task Force’s website puts it, is to advise and assist Philippine forces to fight terrorism and to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Mindanao.

The Joint Task Force’s presence is temporary and its role is strictly advisory. But Zeender says U.S. troops did patrol with military troops and national police, and in doing so did take casualties, including some fatalities, primarily from improvised explosive devices.

"The U.S. military is not allowed to actively target terrorist groups within the Philippines. We were there strictly as advisors. However, if attacked, we do obviously have the right to self-defense, and that did happen under a couple of occasions while I was in the Philippines. And we worked very well with our counterparts," Zeender said.

The vast and rugged Philippine archipelago along with the islands of Indonesia to the south is a perfect refuge for terrorist groups. The primary terrorist groups there are the Abu Sayyaf Group, a separatist group that has long utilized kidnapping for ransom to get funds and hostage beheadings to reinforce its demands, and Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaida ally responsible for several deadly bombings in Indonesia and the Philippines. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has officially broken with al-Qaida and has had a series of on-again, off-again ceasefires with the Philippine government as it tries to reach a peace settlement but radical members of the group remain militarily active.

Emile Nakhleh, former chief of the CIA’s political Islam strategic analysis unit, says the jihadist groups’ influence in the region is weakening.

"There are still some very nasty elements. But the countries in Southeast Asia and the publics have basically - especially their publics - are rejecting this whole rhetoric of terrorism and the whole radical narrative that has been the hallmark of global terrorism. And so they are definitely on the wane," Nakhleh said.

However, in January a bus bombing in Manila was blamed on the Abu Sayyaf. In June, Philippine security forces went on alert for possible terrorist bomb attacks in Manila. The attacks never materialized. But the island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago remain dangerous. On July 12 two American citizens and a Filipino relative were kidnapped in Zamboanga City on Mindanao.

Zeender believes progress against Philippine-based terrorist groups remains elusive without a deeper U.S. commitment in the Philippines.

"We’ve lost some members of my old unit actually down there. And I don’t really see any gains being made. There seems to be one hand in the pot, and we’re not really fully committing. And I believe it would be almost kind of a stalemate. We’re not really gaining any ground or affecting anything on a large international level. However, we are helping the Philippine government and some of the locals. But on an international scale, as far as eliminating the threat of terror, we’re sort of stalemating it," Zeender said.

But the issue of a U.S. troop presence is a sensitive one in the Philippines. The 1987 Philippines constitution bars foreign military bases from the country, and the U.S. bases were closed after Philippine Congress voted in 1991 not to extend the base leases. However, the two countries still hold joint military exercises. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed the U.S. defense commitment to the Philippines in June amid rising tensions between Manila and Beijing over disputed islands in the South China Sea.
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2011-07-26 India-Pakistan
[Dawn] An alleged criminal mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people will be sent to Indonesia after being placed in long-term storage in Pakistain in March, a senior counter terrorism official said Monday.

"Pakistain has delivered a message early July that they will send Umar Patek to Indonesia," National Anti-Terror Agency (BNPT) deputy chief Tito Karnavian told news hounds.

Jakarta's foreign and justice ministries are now working to process Patek's deportation, he said.

Indonesian counter-terrorism police have been tracking Patek for years. One of the most wanted Islamic beturbanned goons in Southeast Asia, he has a $1 million bounty on his head under the US government's "Rewards for Justice" programme.

Born in 1970, Patek was allegedly the field coordinator for the massive kabooms that flattened nightclubs on Bali, killing 202 people, and placed mainly Mohammedan Indonesia on the front lines of the global battle against militancy.

Patek is a suspected member of Al-Qaeda-linked Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), blamed for a series of deadly bombings targeting Christians and Westerners in Indonesia dating back to 1999.
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2011-06-17 Southeast Asia
[An Nahar] An Indonesian court on Thursday placed in long-term storage radical Islamist holy man Abu Bakar Bashir
... Leader of the Indonesian Mujahedeen Council and proprietor of the al-Mukmin madrassah in Ngruki. The spriritual head of Jemaah Islamiya, which he denies exists. Bashir was jugged and then released in the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings, which he blamed on a conspiracy among the U.S., Israel, and Australia ...
for 15 years for funding a terrorist group that was planning attacks against Westerners and politicians.

The 72-year-old preacher showed little emotion as Judge Herri Swantoro read out the guilty verdict and sentence at the end of a four-month trial in the South Jakarta district court.

"Abu Bakar Bashir has been proven guilty of planning and misleading other people to fund terror activities ... and is sentenced to 15 years in jail," the judge said, triggering a gasp from the holy man's supporters in the court.

Draped in his customary white robes and skull-cap, the man seen as the spiritual leader of regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah immediately promised to appeal the sentence, which he called the work of the devil.

"This is haram (forbidden in Islam). I reject this because it is cruel and disregards Islamic sharia law. This ruling is by the friends of the devil and it is haram for me to accept it," he said in response to the judge.

About 500 forces of Evil erupted into shouts of "holy shit! Allahu akbar" (God is great) outside the court as the verdict was read. Some 3,000 police backed by armored vehicles and snipers were on hand in the event of violence.

"This trial was a joke. They haven't looked for the truth, they only want to serve the interests of the current political power," said a front man for Bashir's radical organization, Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT).

Prosecutors had demanded a 20-year life sentence for Bashir, who was found guilty of channeling about $50,000 to a terrorist cell that was conducting military-style training in Aceh province in 2009.

Police say the so-called al-Qaeda in Aceh group, which was discovered in February last year, was planning liquidations and Mumbai-style attacks by highly trained suicide gunnies.

Bashir had been facing the death penalty for providing illegal weapons to the group but authorities dropped those charges early in the proceedings. The court also acquitted him of a charge of possessing illegal weapons.

He rejects all allegations of materially supporting terrorists, while publicly exhorting his followers to wage jihad or "holy war" against the West and Indonesia's form of secular, democratic government.

For decades the frail but pugnacious preacher has agitated in mosques, Islamic schools and through radical groups such as JAT, which he established in 2008, for the creation of an Islamic state under strict sharia law.

Several JAT members are under arrest and have implicated Bashir in the Aceh cell, which was operationally led by Dulmatin, one of Southeast Asia's most bandidos until he was killed in a police raid in March last year.

Bashir told news hounds before the sentencing session began that he was being framed by Australia and the United States, a claim he has repeated throughout his trial.

"They want me to disappear from Indonesia... The benefit to them? To kill Islam, to kill defenders of Islam, jugged and killed without reason," he said.

Police have tightened security at shopping centers across the sprawling city and deployed extra personnel following threats of kabooms in the event of Bashir's conviction.

Indonesia has been rocked by a series of attacks by Jemaah Islamiyah and its offshoots, including bombings of tourist spots on Bali, the Australian embassy and luxury Jakarta hotels.

Bashir served almost 26 months behind bars over the 2002 Bali bombings but his conviction was overturned after his release in 2006.

Prosecutors have also unsuccessfully charged him with involvement in church bombings in 2000 and an attack on the Marriott hotel in Jakarta in 2003.

Analysts said Bashir's jailing would not reduce the Islamic exemplar threat in Indonesia, the world's most populous Mohammedan-majority country and a key U.S. ally in Southeast Asia.

"A new leader will try to prove he's worthy by launching a big attack of some sort," said University of Indonesia expert Andi Widjajanto.

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2011-06-09 Southeast Asia
[An Nahar] Malaysia's police chief said Wednesday an Indonesian businessman had been held under the country's tough security laws for recruiting for regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

Police officials on Tuesday said Abdul Haris Syuhadi, 63, had been jugged over the weekend at his home in central Selangor state under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for alleged terrorism activities.

Ismail Omar said police had monitored Abdul Haris and he was found to have been spreading JI ideology and actively recruiting members for the terror group, which has links to al-Qaeda, since 2002, state media reported.

"I confirm his detention. I believe his activities can endanger national security and we will take appropriate action," Ismail said without elaborating.

JI, a Southeast Asian terror outfit, is blamed for a string of attacks in the region, including the 2002 Bali bombings in which 202 people were killed, many of them foreign tourists.

Activist group Abolish ISA Movement, known by its Malay-language acronym GMI, has condemned the arrest, saying Abdul Haris was a petty trader who sold scarves and textiles.

GMI said it was the ninth arrest under the ISA this year. Rights groups say there are currently 29 individuals being held under the ISA.

Last month, authorities deported a Singaporean businessman who had been jugged under the security law on suspicion of channeling funds to aid a Philippine Islamist bad boy group.

The ISA, which dates back to the British colonial era, when it was used against communist jihad boys, has been used against government opponents as well as suspected terrorists.
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2011-06-07 Southeast Asia
[Al Jazeera] A prominent Indonesian holy man facing life in prison on terrorism charges has rejected the trial as outside Islamic law.

Abu Bakar Bashir
... Leader of the Indonesian Mujahedeen Council and proprietor of the al-Mukmin madrassah in Ngruki. The spriritual head of Jemaah Islamiya, which he denies exists. Bashir was jugged and then released in the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings, which he blamed on a conspiracy among the U.S., Israel, and Australia ...
, who is accused of helping set up and fund a "terror" training camp in Indonesia's Aceh province, claimed his innocence on Monday in a final court appearance before the announcement of the verdict.

Bashir, 72, denies involvement with the training camp but has repeatedly defended it as legal under Islam.

The holy man told a Jakarta court that the case against him was fabricated and witnesses that testified by teleconference were doing so under pressure and so their testimonies could not be trusted.

Citing verses from the Koran, Bashir said he rejected the trial as counter to Islam.

Prosecutors have sought a life sentence for Bashir, who co-founded the Jemaah Islamiyah network, which is blamed for some of the country's deadliest suicide kabooms.

The group allegedly planned a string of attacks on foreigners and liquidations of moderate Mohammedan leaders, including Susilo Bambang, the country's former president.

Prosecutors say testimony from dozens of witnesses at Bashir's trial proved he not only incited others but also played an active role in terrorist activities.

A panel of five judges is to announce Bashir's verdict on June 16. The maximum penalty for the terror charges is death.

Indonesia, a secular nation of 237 million with more Mohammedans than any other in the world, has made strides in fighting terrorism since the first Jemaah Islamiyah-linked attack in Bali in 2002, which killed more than 200 people - mostly Western tourists.

But the country still has pockets of Mohammedan fighters who have carried out violent attacks in recent months on minorities and police.
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2011-05-05 India-Pakistan
[Dawn] Indonesia says its most wanted terrorist suspect was in Pakistain to meet the late Osama bin Laden
... who used to be but now ain't...
when he was placed in durance vile there early this year.

Umar Patek was placed in durance vile in January in Abbottabad, the garrison town where bin Laden was killed by US forces this week.

Patek is suspected in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. He is deputy commander of al-Qaeda's Southeast Asian affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah.

Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said Wednesday that Patek was in Pakistain with his Filipino wife to meet with bin Laden. Authorities have said they traveled to Pakistain using passports with false names.

Indonesian Sherlocks are trying to bring Patek back to the country.
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2011-04-20 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] A SUICIDE attack at a mosque in an Indonesian cop shoppe last week fits a pattern of 'individual jihad' aimed at local targets by small groups of myrmidons, a think-tank said on Tuesday.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) said a trend was emerging that favoured assassinations over indiscriminate bombings, local over foreign targets and individual or small group action over more hierarchical organisations.

In a new report entitled 'Indonesian Jihadism: Small Groups, Big Plans', the Brussels-based ICG said the two approaches were complementary.

Larger jihadi organisations have the networks and funds to support religious outreach by Death Eaters espousing myrmidon principles through the media and religious study sessions, the report said.

Groups like regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and hardline Islamic group Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT) are placing greater focus on local 'enemies' seen as 'oppressors', including the police, Christians and the minority Islamic sect Ahmadiyah.

ICG senior advisor Sidney Jones said the emergence of small groups undertaking jihad on their own highlighted the urgent need for prevention programmes 'which are virtually non-existent in Indonesia'.
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2011-04-01 India-Pakistan
[Straits Times] THE main Indonesian suspect in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people was shot and maimed by security forces who tossed in the clink him in Pakistain, an Indonesian official said on Thursday.

Umar Patek, a deputy commander of Al-Qaeda's Southeast Asian affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah, was tossed in the clink in Pakistain on Jan 25 after a tip from the CIA, Pak and Indonesian security officials have said.

He was in a firefight that broke out during his arrest, Sutanto, head of Indonesia's intelligence agency, told news hounds in Jakarta.

One of the officers was also hurt, he said.

Pakistain will provide Indonesian consular officials access to Patek so they can confirm his identity, said Pakistain's Foreign Ministry front man, Tehmina Janjua, during her weekly press briefing Thursday.

The arrest of Patek, who has a US$1 million (S$1.3 million) American price tag on his head, ends a 10-year international manhunt and is a major achievement in the global fight against Al-Qaeda and its offshoots.
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2011-03-17 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] A TOP Indonesian anti-terror official said on Wednesday that regional krazed killer group Jemaah Islamiyah was behind a series of 'book bombs' in the capital, one of which injured four people.

The first bomb, hidden in a hollowed-out thick book, went kaboom! on Tuesday afternoon as police attempted to defuse it.

The package was addressed to Ulil Abshar Abdalla, a well-known liberal Mohammedan figure who espouses pluralism and religious tolerance.

It came with a threatening letter urging Abdalla to write a preface to the book which was entitled 'They Deserved to be Killed: Because of their Sins to Islam and Mohammedans.'

National Anti-Terror Agency (BNPT) chief Ansyaad Mbai told AFP: 'It's the work of terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) which has been actively launching kabooms in this country.'

JI is a South-east Asian Islamic myrmidon group inspired by Al-Qaeda, which carries out terror attacks to destablise governments in a bid to unite the region into a fundamentalist Islamic state.
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2011-02-24 Southeast Asia
It was five years before Thailand admitted it had a separatist movement on its hands—a well-structured organization consisting of five related groups operating across four provinces. Identifying the leaders proved tricky, although the National Revolutionary Front-Coordinate (BRN-C) can be traced back to the 1960s, and has held the highest profile among southern separatist movements.

There has also been evidence of links with al-Qaeda and regional terrorist outfits like Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) (although this group is currently in decline). As an example, a series of interviews thought to have been granted by the self-described head of al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia, ‘Abu Ubaidah’, talkative until last year but who has since gone quiet.

‘What’s happening in Pattani isn’t an internal conflict, some (fighters) come from the neighbouring country, some come from far away, many thousands of miles,’ he stated, while encouraging Muslims in Malaysia and Indonesia to join his jihad.

He also said, through a series of Malaysia-based blogs, that the conflict has changed since 2004, when the struggle was based more on nationalistic assertions. Killings that year at the Kerisik Mosque, where over 100 died, and at Tak Bai where at least 85 were killed, had transformed the rebellion.

‘Now they fight fully and only for Allah,’ Abu said.

Officials say the first of the five groups under the BRN-C consists of Islamic leaders and teachers. The second group works at the grassroots by occupying administrative positions. A third group is responsible for funding and has found allies among influential local business leaders, according to assistant national police chief Abdul Saengsingkaew.

The Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK), a small guerrilla combat unit, makes up the fourth group. There are an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 RKK troops in the south.

Finally, there is the Permudor, a fifth column of young sympathizers who watch official movements, obstruct police wherever possible, and support RKK fighters. This rabble of teenagers is meant to graduate into the ranks of the RKK over the coming years.

In opposition, the Thai Army has an ambitious plan aimed at recruiting heavily from the southern provincial troops, with these forces expected eventually to be used to quell dissent and resolve issues among the predominantly Malay Muslims.

They are backed by Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who has promised to find a solution by establishing a permanent administrative office, a special economic development zone, and through co-operation with Muslim countries.
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2011-02-03 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] PROSECUTORS have formally charged Indonesia's best-known radical holy man with planning terrorist attacks, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of death.

Abu Bakar Bashir,
... Leader of the Indonesian Mujahedeen Council and proprietor of the al-Mukmin madrassah in Ngruki. The spriritual head of Jemaah Islamiya, which he denies exists. Bashir was jugged and then released in the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings, which he blamed on a conspiracy among the U.S., Israel, and Australia ...
the 72-year-old spiritual head of the Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah network, also was charged with helping fund a new terror cell in Aceh province and mobilising foot soldiers.

Prosecutors presented the indictment Wednesday to the South Jakarta District Court.

They said 138 witnesses will testify at the trial, which is expected to begin next week.

Militants linked to Jemaah Islamiyah have carried out a series of attacks in Indonesia that have killed more than 260 people in less than a decade.
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2011-01-26 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] POLICE have jugged six suspected terrorists, including four teenagers, during a series of raids in central Indonesia.

Ansyaad Mbai, who heads Indonesia's anti-terrorism agency, says several low-explosive weapons also were seized in the raids on Tuesday.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Mohammedan nation, has battled Islamist bully boyz with links to the Southeast Asian network Jemaah Islamiyah since 2002, when bully boyz bombed a nightclub district on Bali island, killing 202 people. There have been at least three deadly attacks across the country since then.

TVOne television reported that among those jugged on Tuesday in the towns of Klaten and Solo were three high school students and one recent high school graduate.
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2010-12-28 Southeast Asia
Malaysian universities have become major recruiting grounds for Islamists looking for young supporters.

Malaysia has been relatively free from terrorism, but its lax admission policies are worrying some. A number of arrests and detentions this year have demonstrated the growing presence of radicals using Malaysia as a base.

"The terror threat to Malaysia is very real in terms of terrorists who come in as students," said Zamihan Mat Zin, deputy head of the Malaysian Islamic Training Centre, "They are under the radar so they can recruit and create terrorists in our midst." Zamihan is part of a group of Muslim scholars engaged by the government to rehabilitate imprisoned terror suspects.

In June, Al-Qaeda-linked Syrian scholar Aiman Al Dakak along with eight other foreigners from Syria, Yemen, Nigeria and Jordan, were deported. Al Dakak gave lectures to students at his home in Kuala Lumpur, indoctrinating them with jihadist ideology and urging them to carry out bombings on places of worship in Malaysia.

In July, engineer Mohamad Fadzullah was detained for trying to recruit students at Malaysia's national university and technical institutes for Jemaah Islamiyah.

After the deportations, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin called the phenomenon an "unhealthy trend which can affect national security".

"Despite the arrests, we believe there are still many who are here now and this process is continuing," said Zamihan, who was given permission to interview the nine deported terror suspects. "Some of these Al-Qaeda operatives who are caught overseas but not prosecuted because of a lack of evidence or a good lawyer, they are able to escape so they then come to Malaysia to study to do a Masters or PhD, but at the same time they are busy recruiting undergraduates."

"Once they have their recruits, whether local or foreigners studying here, they plan regional attacks. Many of them have confessed this," he added.

Kamarulnizam Abdullah, head of national security studies at the National University of Malaysia, says better screening is necessary.

"Our system is very lax and we just accept whoever without thinking of consequences," he said.

Zamihan said the June deportees were Al-Qaeda agents who were quietly trying to resurrect Jemaah Islamiyah.

"They were recruiting locals or even foreigners studying here to radicalise them and create new terrorists," he said.

FBI assistant director for international operations Joseph Demarest has said recently that the FBI was deeply concerned over home-grown radicalism in the Asian region.

"It is the affiliated groups that we are very concerned about... the smaller group, the individuals that we may not know about, these are the top concerns at least for the FBI," he said at a regional security conference in Kuala Lumpur.
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2010-12-02 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] MALAYSIA has nabbed an Indonesian cut-thoat suspect thought to have been a courier for Noordin Mohammad Top, the late bombmaker of terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, a report said on Wednesday.

The Star daily reported that Fadli Sadama, 27, was jugged on Oct 13, quoting an unnamed regional counter-terrorism source. He is accused of involvement in a bank robbery and attempting to smuggle weapons.

Fadli was reportedly involved in an August heist of US$40,000 (S$52,699) from a bank in the Indonesian city of Medan, according to the paper.

It said Fadli was jugged while travelling to Malaysia's southern state of Johor on a bus in possession of two revolvers.

The report said Fadli was planning to use the weapons to attack an Indonesian prison holding Toni Togar, believed to be the criminal mastermind of the Medan bank robbery.

Malaysian police could not be reached for comment.
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2010-10-15 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] THREE suspected members of late terror leader Noordin Mohammad Top's network went on trial in Indonesia Thursday over twin suicide kabooms on two luxury hotels in Jakarta last year.

Bayu Seno, alias Tono, faces the death penalty if convicted on charges of assembling the bombs used in the July 17 attacks on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels, which killed seven people.

'He assisted in an act of terrorism by way of purposely using violence and stirring up an atmosphere of terror and widespread fear,' prosecutor Kiki Ahmad Yani told the West Jakarta district court.

Seno also assisted by buying and transporting kabooms which were to be used in a plot to assassinate Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, he said.

Two Islamic gunnies with backpacks filled with homemade bombs blew themselves up at the hotels, marking the bloody end of a four-year hiatus in attacks attributed to Noordin and Al-Qaeda-linked regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah.

In a separate hearing, alleged Islamic bad boy Pandu Wicaksono was charged with hiding Noordin at his house in Surakarta district in Central Java in June 2009, prosecutor Iwan Setiawan said. Another suspect, Suramto, is on trial accused of recruiting one of the boomers and buying kabooms used for the hotel attacks. Both also face the death penalty if found guilty.
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2010-09-24 Southeast Asia
Singapore's government said the suspected leader of the Singapore wing of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group is back in its custody two-and-a-half years after a daring jailbreak.

The Home Ministry said Mas Selamat Kastari is "currently under investigation" and being held under the country's Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial. Malaysian police deported the suspect Friday—nearly 18 months after capturing him in southern Malaysia.
More from Channel News Asia:
SINGAPORE: Mas Selamat Kastari, the leader of the Singapore Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network, was handed over on Friday to Singapore custody by the Malaysian authorities.

Mas Selamat had escaped from Singapore's Whitley Road Detention Centre on February 27, 2008 but was arrested in Malaysia's southern state of Johor on April 1, 2009 and detained under Malaysia's Internal Security Act until his repatriation on Friday.
Clearly the Malaysian authorities had questions of their own for Mr. Selamat.
Singapore officials said Mas Selamat was part of a plot to hijack an airliner in Bangkok and crash it into Singapore's Changi airport in 2001, following the September 11 attacks that year in the United States.

Mas Selamat then fled Singapore in December 2001 after a security operation against Jemaah Islamiyah but was arrested on 3 February 2003 at Tanjung Pinang on the Indonesian island of Bintan.
A busy man.
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2010-08-29 Southeast Asia
AaPee writer. Hardliners are conducting an internet campaign (including Facebook) to get Abu Bakar Bashir, the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) released. Naturally, the charges against him- that he set up cells to conduct Mumbai-like attacks on Western targets in Indonesia, are all lies, American plots, and what-have-you.
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2010-08-12 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] MALAYSIA police said on Wednesday they had detained an Indonesian and two Malaysians for their links to a foreign militant group and for activities that could affect national security.

Police chief Musa Hassan told state news agency Bernama that Indonesian marketing executive Mustawan Ahbab, 34, Malaysian contractor Samsul Hamidi, 34, and businessman Sheikh Abdullah Sheikh Junaid, 70, had been arrested under the country's tough Internal Security Act.

Bernama's brief report gave no details of which foreign militant group the three were allegedly linked to, and police could not be reached for comment.

Last month, Malaysia confirmed it had arrested a man accused of recruiting students for the Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terror organisation.

Authorities have said that Islamic militants are trying to revive JI, a South-east Asian terror outfit, by attracting new members from Malaysian universities.

The detentions follow Monday's arrest in Indonesia of radical Islamist preacher Abu Bakar Bashir for his alleged role in terror plots with Al-Qaeda-linked militants.
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2010-08-11 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] INDONESIAN police said on Tuesday top radical Islamist preacher Abu Bakar Bashir could face the death penalty over his alleged role in terror plots with Al-Qaeda-linked militants. Bashir, who was arrested on Monday, is accused of funding and training extremists who were planning a wave of attacks in Jakarta.

'Our investigators found evidence that Abu Bakar Bashir had been actively involved in terror plots and activities including the training,' National police spokesman Edward Aritonang said.

Police have arrested 102 terror suspects, of whom 66 were detained, in a series of raids nationwide since discovering the training facility in Aceh, northern Sumatra island.

Mr Aritonang said they found that several Islamic groups from regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) to Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) had also chosen Bashir as the leader for a new terror cell dubbed 'Al-Qaeda in Aceh'.

The cell had planned a series of attacks, including using car bombs, on at least two embassies, several international hotels and the police headquarters in the capital.
And there lies the reason for his arrest. If he had stuck to training terrorist for the export market, they'd have ignored him. When it looks like he's going to boom the homeland, that's when he becomes expendable.
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2010-08-04 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] AN INDONESIAN court on Tuesday jailed three men for harbouring terrorists involved in suicide bomb attacks on two luxury hotels in Jakarta last year that killed seven people.

Afham Ramadhan, 23, Fajar Firdaus, 26, and Sonny Jayadi, 24, were each sentenced to four-and-a-half years' jail in separate trials at the South Jakarta district court.

The men sheltered Syaifudin Jaelani, who recruited the suicide bombers, and a florist called Ibrohim who helped the bombers get into the hotels ahead of the attacks.

Police killed Jaelani and Ibrohim after the July 17 bombings, as well as the suspected mastermind of the blasts, Malaysian terror leader Noordin Mohammed Top. Noordin led a splinter faction of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional extremist network, which is blamed for multiple attacks in Indonesia.

'Afham Ramadhan was the one who picked up Syaifudin and provided his rented room on the second floor for two days,' judge Didik Setyo Handono said.

Prosecutors said the three suspects, including Jaelani's nephew Firdaus, took turns bringing food to Jaelani until anti-terror police raided the hideout. The prosecutors had demanded a seven-year jail term.
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2010-07-22 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] A FORMER terror suspect linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militant group on Wednesday urged Malaysia to repeal a tough security law, saying detainees were subjected to mental torture.

In a rare public statement from an ex-detainee, Mat Sah Satray said the Internal Security Act (ISA) was used as a political tool to detain individuals without trial and said the 'draconian' act should be abolished.

Mr Mat Sah was held without charge under the ISA for eight years until his release last year over alleged links with the South-east Asian terror outfit and the group's spiritual leader, Indonesian radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.

'I was held in a small room and was interrogated with questions that were meant to incite anger, such as how many times do you have sex with your wife every day,' he said at the launch of a human rights report.

'The ISA can be used to detain anyone at any time without trial and we can't defend ourselves,' said Mr Mat Sah, who said he was made a 'sacrificial lamb' as the region stepped up anti-terrorism efforts after the September 11 attacks.
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2010-07-20 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] MALAYSIA on Monday confirmed it had arrested a man accused of recruiting students for the Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror organisation, but played down the threat posed by the group.

'It is not something so critical that we should ring warning bells,' Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said following the arrest of 28-year-old Mohamad Fadzullah Abdul Razak last Thursday.

'And trust me, when we actually arrested that particular individual that was after many months of monitoring his movement,' the minister said on the sidelines of a regional security conference in Kuala Lumpur.
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2010-07-07 Southeast Asia
A FULL-time national serviceman in the Singapore Armed Forces has been detained under the Internal Security Act, said a statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday.

Muhammad Fadil Abdul Hamid, 20, had become self-radicalised after searching the Internet for jihadist propaganda and videos.

He was influenced by the teachings of radical clerics posted online 'and became convinced that it was his religious duty to undertake armed jihad alongside fellow militants and strive for martyrdom,' said a statement from MHA.

Fadil initiated communication with radical cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki and expressed a desire to undertake militant jihad in places like Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was detained on April 4.

Two other Singaporeans - Muhammad Anwar Jailani, 44, and Muhammad Thahir bin Shaik Dawood, 27 - were also placed on Restriction Orders for two years from June 23, added the MHA statement.

Separately, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) member Ibrahim Mohd Noor was released on a Suspension Direction under the ISA on June 1.

Ibrahim, a trained operative, fled Singapore in December 2001 following the arrests of Singapore JI members in an ISD security operation, but was arrested and detained under the ISA in April 2007 in a joint operation with a regional security agency.

'He had cooperated in investigations and shown significant progress in his rehabilitation. He was assessed to no longer pose a security threat that required preventive detention,' said MHA.
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2010-06-27 Southeast Asia
Indonesia's vaunted "deradicalisation programme" aimed at bringing terrorists back into mainstream Islam has been exposed as a myth by recent arrests of re-offenders, analysts and police said. Senior police now acknowledge that no such programme exists and are issuing increasingly stark warnings that, on the contrary, the mainly Muslim country's prisons are at risk of becoming schools of violent jihad.

The final straw appears to have been the re-arrest Wednesday of Abdullah Sunata, 32, on suspicion of plotting attacks on the Danish embassy and a police parade. He was released from jail last year for good behaviour after serving only a fraction of a seven-year sentence for his role in a 2004 attack on the Australian embassy, which killed 10 people.

One of Sunata's alleged accomplices arrested on the same day last week had also been jailed for the embassy attack, while a third who was killed by police was a former soldier who had been radicalised in prison while serving time for smuggling.

Other recent examples include bomb-maker Bagus Budi Pranoto -- also jailed over the embassy truck bombing, he was released after just four years only to be re-arrested over last year's suicide attacks on luxury hotels in Jakarta.

Within months of Sunata's release, he was allegedly back on the jihadist war path, plotting attacks and helping to organise a new terror cell dubbed "Al-Qaeda in Aceh" under the leadership of Jemaah Islamiyah militant Dulmatin. Police discovered the cell in February and killed Dulmatin in March.

National police spokesman Edward Aritonang said Sunata's case was further evidence that Indonesia's prisons, far from helping to rehabilitate terrorists, risked turning into terrorist "schools". It is time to look at a "new system or method, so the counselling for prisoners truly works and prisons don't become schools" of radicalisation, he said.

Hundreds of terrorists have been convicted, jailed and released since Indonesia was shaken by the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people, mostly Western tourists. With rare exceptions -- notably three of the Bali bombers who were executed in 2008 -- most have been given lenient sentences and even financial help to find jobs and reintegrate into moderate Indonesian society.

Counter-terrorism squad chief Colonel Tito Karnavian complains that the notoriously corrupt correction system effectively provides extremists a sanctuary to preach, recruit and plot. "In prison they can convene, sit and discuss freely and safely, secured by the government," he told reporters earlier this month, adding that Indonesia had "no systematic mechanism" for rehabilitation. "They are able to survive, not only survive but collaborate... We need quite a big budget for prevention and rehabilitation, not only repression."

Recognising the danger, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered the creation of a national counter-terrorism body, focusing on prevention and rehabilitation, which will report directly to him. But Karnavian warned that an "extra-judicial body" would be "prone to be politicised" -- a possible reference to Islamic parties in the ruling coalition -- and said police should remain in charge of all counter-terrorism efforts. "As long as the radical ideology is growing and extremism is increasing we have a very huge reservoir for would-be terrorists or suicide bombers," he said.

Noor Huda Ismail, a former extremist who now works directly with terrorist prisoners to bring them back into moderate society, said Indonesia had never had a proper deradicalisation plan. "All they've done so far is be nice with the terrorists in order to squeeze information from them," he told AFP.

The Al-Qaeda in Aceh group's chief alleged ideologue, Aman Abdurrahman, was initially arrested over his involvement in a bomb-making cell back in 2004 and was released in 2008. Analysts who visited him in jail during that period said his prison guards, rather than working to deradicalise him, didn't even know who he was and made no effort to stop him holding "study sessions" with other terrorist detainees. Like Sunata, Abdurrahman is now back behind bars.
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2010-06-25 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] THE father-in-law of slain Malaysian terror leader Noordin Mohammed Top went on trial in Indonesia on Thursday, facing up to 15 years in prison for helping the fugitive evade capture.

Baharudin Latif alias Baridin, 55, was arrested five months after suicide bomb attacks on two luxury hotels in Jakarta in July last year that killed seven people.

'The defendant deliberately provided assistance and facilities to the perpertrator of terrorism by hiding from police the most-wanted terror mastermind Noordin Mohammed Top,' prosecutor Firmansyah told the court.

Noordin was killed in a police raid in September, ending one of Southeast Asia's biggest manhunts.

He led a group he called Al-Qaeda in the Malay Archipelago and was responsible for multiple deadly attacks in the mainly Muslim country, including the hotel bombings and a truck-bomb blast at the Australian embassy in 2004.

Firmansyah said Latif had been a member of regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) since 1995 and led a local branch in East Java province in 2000. .

Noordin visited Latif's house three times and married his daughter, Arina Rahmah, in 2006.
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2010-06-18 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] ISLAMIC extremists led by a deported Syrian scholar with suspected ties to Al-Qaeda were planning to blow up houses of worship in Malaysia, a government-linked newspaper reported on Thursday.

The New Straits Times said Aiman Al Dakak, 45, was among nine foreigners including Syrians, Yemenis, Nigerians and a Jordanian deported in April, most of them students.

According to previous Malaysian reports, 10 foreign terror suspects had been deported. Police and home ministry officials had no immediate comment on the latest report.

The NST did not specify which 'houses of worship' were allegedly targeted by the group but said they were located in the states of Penang and Selangor. The foreigners and their local associates felt that Malaysia, which is 60 per cent Muslim, was losing its identity as an Islamic country, the report said.

It said Aiman was also trying to revive the Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) by attracting new members from Malaysian universities.

The paper reported that Aiman, who is fluent in Arabic and English, gave lectures to both local and foreign students at his home, indoctrinating them with jihadist ideology and urging them to carry out the bombings.
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2010-06-17 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] MALAYSIA'S government will enlist the help of universities to stop Islamic militants using campuses as recruitment centres for their violent struggle, according to the deputy premier.

Muhyiddin Yassin said police would hold a special briefing for university administrators following the recent deportation of 10 foreigners for trying to recruit Malaysian students to wage holy war overseas. The militants were detained earlier this year for trying to revive the South-east Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) by attracting new members from Malaysian universities. The organisation has been linked to Al-Qaeda and blamed for major attacks in the region, including the 2002 Bali bombings.

'A special briefing will be given... it will discuss the form of cooperation that can be taken among all parties to curb this unhealthy trend which can affect national security,' Mr Muhyiddin told the Bernama news agency late on Tuesday. 'The police have a lot of information and know movements, so the cooperation of all parties is very important to safeguard national security,' added Mr Muhyiddin, who is also the education minister.

Police chief Musa Hassan said two university campuses were being monitored as some local and foreign students from the Middle East and Africa were spreading jihadist ideology, the New Straits Times reported Wednesday. 'Action will be taken if they (the foreigners) go overboard,' Chief Musa told the paper, without naming the universities. The police chief could not be reached for comment.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Tuesday foreign militants were using mainly-Muslim Malaysia as a base, confirming there were both religious and non-Islamic militant groups operating in the country.

He said the militants were using Malaysia to carry out financial transactions, share information and recruit new members.
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2010-06-16 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] FOREIGN militants are using mainly Muslim Malaysia as a base to beef up their violent struggle and recruit new members, a senior minister said on Tuesday.

Hishammuddin Hussein, in charge of domestic security, confirmed that there were Islamic and non-Islamic militant groups operating in the country.

The militants were using Malaysia to carry out financial transactions, information sharing and recruitment of new members, he said. 'Among those targeted for recruitment are students of local higher learning institutions,' he was quoted as saying by the official Bernama news agency.

Mr Hishammuddin's remarks come after Musa Hassan, inspector-general of police, on Monday said 10 foreigners had been deported for trying to recruit students to wage holy war overseas.

The militants were detained earlier this year for trying to revive the defunct Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terror group by attracting new members from Malaysian universities.

The regional organisation has been linked to Al-Qaeda and blamed for major attacks in South-east Asia, including the 2002 Bali bombings. Mr Hishammuddin said Malaysia was closely monitoring selected foreigners entering the country with the help of international intelligence agencies.
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2010-06-16 Southeast Asia
[Dawn] Malaysia has arrested and deported 10 foreigners suspected of trying to recruit university students to revive a regional terrorist network, police said Tuesday.
More detail on yesterday's story...
The foreigners were arrested over the past six months at different locations, national police chief Musa Hassan said. They allegedly tried to recruit students to work abroad for the Al-Qaeda-linked Southeast Asian group Jemaah Islamiyah.
I don't know if JI is trying to come back or if it's been reborn as al-Q in Aceh.
Jemaah Islamiyah is blamed for several deadly attacks in the region, including the 2002 bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali that killed 202 people.

"All have been deported," Musa told The Associated Press, declining to give further details.

The Star daily quoted him as saying police were monitoring 20 to 30 students, and the foreigners began talking to them about joining the group.

"This trend is very worrying as it shows that these militants have changed their tactics and strategies in recruiting members, especially for their activities in other countries," Musa was quoted as saying. "Police will monitor students attending any talks that can cause upheaval and threaten national security."

Musa said students were "usually targeted as they are young and believe in things more easily," the New Straits Times reported.

Separately, the government arrested nine other foreigners and one Malaysian in January under a law that allows detention without trial. Two of the foreigners - who were from Jordan, Nigeria, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere - were deported in March, but there was no information on the others' status.

Activists say police arrested the men with some 40 others at a home near Kuala Lumpur while attending a weekly Islamic class with a Syrian university lecturer. The others were later freed.

Over the past decade, Malaysian authorities have detained more than 100 militant suspects, most alleged to be members of Jemaah Islamiyah. Authorities have freed many, saying they have been rehabilitated. None was ever charged.

Since the 2002 Bali attack, a regional security crackdown has seen hundreds of militants killed or captured and convicted.

Jemaah Islamiyah was accused of carrying out the deadly July 2009 bombings at two luxury hotels in Jakarta, Indonesia, and a plot to assassinate that country's president.

The bombings ended a four-year lull in terrorist attacks in Indonesia.
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2010-05-08 Southeast Asia
Extremist preacher Abu Bakar Bashir founded the Jamaah Anshorut Tauhid in 2008, an organization he claims is based on "true" Islamic teachings. Antiterror police on Thursday raided JAT headquarters in South Jakarta and detained at least five men over suspected terrorist activities.

With the help of his friend Abdullah Achmad Sungkar, Bashir is believed to have founded regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah 1993 in Malaysia after fleeing Indonesia to escape prosecution under the Suharto regime. JI's goal was to create a Islamic caliphate covering Indonesia, Malaysia, the southern Philippines, Singapore, Brunei and southern Thailand.

Bashir was convicted in 2005 of conspiracy over the 2002 Bali bombings. Sentenced to two and a half years in jail, the charges were dropped in 2006.

In Friday's interview with the Jakarta Globe, Bashir explains his links to fugitive Abu Tholut, a former regional commander of JI and a military trainer in Mindanao, southern Philippines. Tholut once told police he had been involved in the bloody conflict in Poso, Central Sulawesi. He was believed to have been the target of a 2003 raid in Semarang, Central Java. Police sources on Thursday said Tholut had acted as a bridge between Bashir and an armed militant group in Aceh, whose members were recently arrested in police raids.

Do you know Abu Tholut personally?

I knew him in Cipinang [penitentiary]. We did not share a cell but we still were allowed some flexibility by wardens to meet. Particularly on Friday, Muslim inmates could gather at the prison mosque. I have received information that Abu Tholut is now a fugitive. I do not know where he is, and what case he has involved himself in.

What is Tholut to you?

Our last encounter was six months ago. He was at Ngruki [Bashir's Al Mukmin boarding school]. Abu Tholut used to teach the science of war [Asykari] according to the Koran and the Sunnah of the Prophet at Al Mukmin [Islamic boarding school in Ngruki]. We are emotionally linked as fellow clerics. He lived a long time in Afghanistan and ruled in the science of jihad. Abu Tholut is amongst those Islamic fighters who could never be careless.

Did Tholut ever receive help or funding from you to carry out terrorist activities? Was he the target of a raid in Semarang in 2003 where police managed to seize a massive cache of explosives?

I know nothing outside of affairs of Da'wah [preaching]. I have never given funding of any kind to Tholut and I do not know if he received any funding for terrorism. I and Abu Tholut agreed to struggle via the path of education and dissemination of religious teachings without violence. We conduct jihad only if we are attacked. I am sure that Abu Tholut would never approve of the way jihad is carried out by those Aceh [suspects].

Do you know who the leaders of the armed militant group in Aceh are?

I just see their faces on television. I do wonder how these boys obtain firearms so easily, considering they have no network. It is not easy for insurgents to gain access to such massive amounts of ammunition. Both the police and army must be behind this.

What do you think they were fighting for?

I am in no position to respond to the direction of the struggle in Aceh. Police need to prove whether they were really true mujahideen or just ordinary criminals. I do not know whether or not they were part of Jemaah Islamiyah. Let police answer that question.

What is happening at Ngruki now?

Police and soldiers come here to conduct searches. If members of the JAT or graduates of Ngruki conducted violent acts outside the organizations and schools, it's not our responsibility. And if members of JAT go out of bounds in that matter, they will be expelled from the organization.

How are you feeling lately?

I am always watched by the police and army. They follow wherever I go and when I give lectures at mosques. They want to narrow down my movements. But they do not interfere with my family.
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2010-05-07 Southeast Asia
Indonesian police said Friday they had arrested 12 terrorist suspects linked to a training camp discovered in Aceh province in February.

National police spokesman Edward Aritonang said the men had been rounded up without a fight in and around Jakarta on Thursday. "Some of them were part of the supporting team for terror drills in Aceh. The team that recruits people and arranges their trips," he said.

He indicated that the suspects could be linked to regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah but refused to comment on local media reports that they were followers of radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.
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2010-04-21 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] AN INDONESIAN court on Tuesday sentenced a man to eight years' jail for sheltering terror mastermind Noordin Mohammed Top before the Malaysian fanatic was killed by police in September.

Indonesian extremist Syaifudin Zuhri, 39, hid and abetted Noordin as he planned twin suicide attacks on luxury hotels in Jakarta last year which killed seven people, the court found.

'Syaifudin Zuhri has been proven legally and convincingly guilty in assisting, accommodating and hiding terror convicts. The defendant is sentenced to eight years in prison,' judge Haryanto told the court.

Noordin led a splinter faction of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terror group until he was killed by Indonesian police during a raid on a house on Java island last year.

He was blamed for a 2003 attack on Jakarta's Marriott hotel, the 2004 bombing of the Australian embassy, 2005 attacks on tourist restaurants on Bali as well as the suicide blasts at the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton last July.

Zuhri, who was arrested in Central Java province a month before last year's hotel attacks, also stood as a witness at Noordin's third marriage in 2006.
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2010-04-17 Southeast Asia
[ADN Kronos] (AKI) - More than half the foreign terrorists based in the Philippines's southern province of Mindanao had links to the Islamist terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, according to military intelligence. Documents obtained by Adnkronos International (AKI) show that 50 foreign militants have joined local Muslim rebels in their struggle for self-determination in Mindanao.

The documents, updated in February 2010, said 28 of the militants had links to Jemaah Islamiyah, the Asian-based Islamist group linked to Al-Qaeda.

Many of them were believed to have been integrated in the Islamic community in the central west of the island in the autonomous Muslim region of Mindanao.

The military intelligence document said many of these terrorists live under the protection of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (photo), in particular in the so called SKP training camp in Liguasan Marsh.

In peace talks conducted with the government in 1997, the group denied any involvement with terrorists.

However, the report found more than 24 individuals are suspected of links to other Islamist terrorist groups such as KOMPAK, Darul Islam, Laskar Jundullah, and Indonesian Laskar Jihad - which has been linked to violent attacks on Christians - and Kumpulan Mujahidin, which is committed to the creation of an Islamic state in Malaysia.

At least 18 members of this group were reported to be in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, while the others were in Sulu, the island in the south of Mindanao, considered the stronghold of another Muslim separatist group, Abu Sayyaf.

The MILF is the largest of four Muslim separatist groups in Mindanao, and Abu Sayyaf is understood to have links with Al-Qaeda.

Jemaah Islamiyah is held responsible for Indonesia's deadliest terror attack, the 2002 Bali bombings, and was added the United Nations' list of terrorist organisations linked to Al-Qaeda or the Taliban the same year.
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2010-03-25 Southeast Asia
During its long and bloody history in Indonesia – which includes a string of deadly bombings, among them the 2002 attack on the Bali beach resort – Jemaah Islamiyah has been called many things: terrorists, murderers, allies of Osama bin Laden. But until this month, no one had ever called them weak-kneed. But in a video analysts say heralds the formation of an even more extreme organization in Indonesia, the group that killed 202 people in Bali and is suspected of carrying out subsequent attacks on foreign-owned hotels and the Australian embassy in Jakarta is taunted by assault rifle-wielding men as having lost its stomach for holy war.

“To all members of Jemaah Islamiyah, unite! Jihad is not waged with pens or wearing prayer caps and sarongs,' one militant says to the camera, his face obscured by an editor. “No, you fight jihad with weapons. Before your hair goes grey with age, join us!' He goes on to call out one moderate leader of Jemaah Islamiyah by name, saying all he does is “sit in an office.'

The 75-minute video, posted online by a group that calls itself al-Qaeda in Aceh, is similar in style to those produced by the main al-Qaeda network based in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Militants are shown firing weapons and going through physical training. Clips from Mr. bin Laden's speeches are interspersed with calls for the establishment of an Islamic state in Indonesia.

Two weeks before the video was posted online, a special unit of the Indonesian police raided what they called a “terrorist training camp' deep in the forests of the province of Aceh, the westernmost point of Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago with the world's largest population of Muslims. But while the police operations – which captured dozens of assault rifles and hand grenades, as well as cash and fake identification papers – were a blow to al-Qaeda in Aceh, discoveries made at the camp revealed how dangerous the new group may be.

While underscoring the split within Jemaah Islamiyah, which fractured under police pressure after the Bali bombings, the evidence suggests a new unity among Indonesia's extremist groups, analysts say. Those caught or killed at the training camp included several hardline members of Jemaah Islamiyah, as well as fighters from at least five other militant factions that had never previously found common cause. Little bomb-making material was discovered at the camp, leading to speculation that the group may have ruled out future Bali-style attacks, which have been divisive among jihadis, since many of those killed in such mass bombings have been Muslims.

The group appeared instead to have been training to carry out targeted assassinations or perhaps military-style assaults similar to the 2008 attacks on foreign hotels and other targets in the Indian city of Mumbai. The group's weaponry was apparently supplied by a member who was also a Jakarta police officer with access to firearms slated for disposal.

“It's a coming together of most of the main jihadi groups [in Indonesia], with the exception of Jemaah Islamiyah,' said Sidney Jones, a Jakarta-based analyst for the International Crisis Group. “It was really a composite group of people who seem to have agreed on a lowest common denominator of what they could all find acceptable. They didn't necessarily agree to carry out [Bali]-style bombings, but they did agree on military training and the need to establish an Islamic state, by force if necessary.'

The militants are believed to have been planning an attack on the United Nations headquarters in Banda Aceh, the regional capital, and police are looking for links between the group and a series of mysterious shootings that targeted foreigners in the city last year. “It has become clear to us that Dulmatin had instructed those whom we have managed to capture alive to launch violent attacks against very specific targets,' said General Bambang Hendarso Danuri, Indonesia's national police chief.

Despite the new organization's name, Ms. Jones said it isn't clear whether there are any real ties between it and the wider al-Qaeda network. However, al-Qaeda in Aceh does have strong links to Abu Sayyaf, the notorious group that has terrorized the southern Philippines for two decades. Several prominent members, including Mr. Dulmatin and the man believed to have succeeded him as leader of al-Qaeda in Aceh, Umar Patek, are known to have fled Indonesia following the Bali bombings and gone to the Philippines, where they fought alongside Abu Sayyaf. Like Mr. Dulmatin, Mr. Patek is a former senior commander in Jemaah Islamiyah renowned for his bomb-making skills.

One of those killed at the Aceh camp was a Filipino fighter believed to have been a member of Abu Sayyaf, raising concern at the ease with which the militants appear to be moving between Indonesia and the Philippines.

The new organization is believed to have chosen Aceh for its remoteness, as well as the fact that the semi-autonomous government there recently imposed a version of sharia law. But while those captured include several former members of the Free Aceh Movement that in 2005 ended a 30-year military campaign for independence, al-Qaeda in Aceh does not have the support of the wider Free Aceh Movement leadership. In fact, police say it was Free Aceh Movement fighters who led them to the militant training camp.

But while the fledgling al-Qaeda in Aceh may have lost its leader and main training grounds, police say there are at least seven more cells of the organization active on Indonesia's main island of Java alone. “This network still has the capacity to create new cells. This is a very strong terrorism network,' said Andi Widjajanto, a military analyst at the University of Indonesia. “What we are now seeing is the strengthening of the terrorist network in Indonesia, not its weakening.'
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2010-03-22 Southeast Asia
[Jakarta Post] Indonesian officials have asked Philippine authorities to track down an Indonesian fugitive wanted in connection with several beheadings who is now helping to train militants in an insurgency-wracked Philippine region, security officials said Sunday.

Sanusi, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, has been monitored in Mindanao's marshy heartland, two Philippine intelligence officials said. He fled to the region after being accused of ordering militants in 2007 to behead three people in the eastern Indonesian town of Poso, where Islamist militants had launched a series of bloody attacks on Christians and government workers.

An Indonesian Embassy official said his government has asked Philippine authorities to capture Sanusi, who was spotted at a mosque near southern Cotabato city during the holy month of Ramadan last fall. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

A senior Philippine military intelligence official said Sanusi has emerged as a key operative of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian terror group linked to al-Qaida. He is believed to have helped fund and organize religious and combat training for new Indonesian militant recruits in Mindanao, where local guerrillas are fighting to create an independent Muslim state.

Sanusi has not been implicated in any attack in the Philippines and is not on any terrorist backlist because authorities are only just beginning to uncover his activities and the role he plays, according to the military intelligence official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his post.

Another government intelligence official said Sanusi has been trying to link up Filipino Muslim guerrillas with potential financial donors in the Middle East.

There are at least two dozen Jemaah Islamiyah members in central Mindanao. At least another 25 Indonesian and Asian militants, who belong to other underground groups, have been given refuge mainly by the Abu Sayyaf extremist group on southern Jolo island and nearby Basilan province, according to the military. Abu Sayyaf is another Southeast Asian terror network linked to al-Qaida.

Among the Indonesian militants allied with the Abu Sayyaf were Umar Patek and Dulmatin, who had recently returned to Indonesia after hiding for years in Mindanao. Indonesian police killed Dulmatin, Southeast Asia's most-wanted terrorist and a master bomb-maker, in an Internet cafe near Jakarta last March 9.

Patek and Dulmatin had been suspected of helping plot the 2002 nightclub bombings that killed 202 people in Bali, Indonesia.

American troops have provided combat training, intelligence and weapons to the underfunded Philippine military for years to help combat the Abu Sayyaf, which is on U.S. and European terrorist lists, and its Asian militant allies.
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2010-03-12 Southeast Asia
Thousands attended the burial of Dulmatin, a key wanted terrorist slain during a police raid in Tangerang this week, at a family cemetery in his hometown of Pemalang in Central Java on Friday. Along the way from his house to the cemetery in Loning village, mourners shouted "Allahu akbar" and called Dulmatin a mujahideen.
Names, addresses, photographs ...
Dulmatin's body arrived in Pemalang at 3:20 p.m. on Friday, to the frenzied greetings of members of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). A banner in front of Dulmatin's house read, "Ammar Usman Sofie was not a terrorist. He was a mujahideen."

Police forces banned journalists from entering Dulmatin's house to take pictures but they were themselves later barred from going to the cemetery. "Back off, back off. We do not need police officers," said mourners.

Only male relatives and friends were allowed to attend the funeral and the prayers at the Baitul Muttaqin mosque near the cemetery. Istiadah, Dulmatin's widow, and the other women remained at home.

"The funeral has gone well, with no problems or difficulties. Everybody in this village came and helped us," Dulmatin's eldest brother Azam Ba'afut said. "This shows that my brother was a good man."

Dulmatin, 39, and two other people were shot dead on Tuesday in a gunfight with counterterrorism forces in Tangerang. With a $10 million bounty on his head, Dulmatin was accused of having been one of the key people in the 2002 Bali bombings that left 202 people dead, mostly foreign tourists.

"He was not a terrorist but a holy warrior," another relative, Sahid Ahmad Sungkar, was quoted by Antara news agency as saying. "His death is the will of Allah, who will decide who's right or wrong."

FPI Pekalongan chairman Abu Ayas said mourners had come from nearby Pekalongan and Batang as well as regions as far away as Solo and Banyuwangi.

Abu Wildan, a former member of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terrorist group to which Dulmatin used to belong, also appeared at the funeral. Widlan split from the group, disagreeing with the path of violence it had chosen.

Heru Kuncoro, Dulmatin's brother-in-law and now the most wanted person after terrorism suspect Umar Patek, was rumored to have attended the funeral but Zaid Ahmad Sungkar denied it.

In Solo, Central Java, hard-line cleric Abu Bakar Bashir said: "I do not know Dulmatin and we've never met. But he did not deserve to be called a terrorist. Dulmatin was a mujahideen even if I don't agree with his struggle and use of violence in the country in times of peace."

Meanwhile, the Densus 88 antiterrorism police unit continued to pursue accomplices of Dulmatin in Solo, Wonogiri, Yogyakarta and Klaten, all in Central Java.
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2010-03-12 Home Front: WoT
HAMBALI, the alleged Bali bomb mastermind who is suspected of links to Al-Qaeda, has filed a petition seeking his release from Guantanamo where he has been detained for more than three years.
Um, no ...
Considered the operational chief of Southeast Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) until his capture in Thailand in 2003, Hambali, whose real name is Riduan Isamuddin, filed a habeas petition with the US District Court in Washington.

Hambali, accused of plotting the October 2002 attack in Bali that killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists, was held for three years in secret CIA prisons before being transferred to Guantanamo in September 2006.

In addition to the Bali bombing he is thought to have raised funds from Al-Qaeda, with whom he has denied any links, for the 2003 attack on the Marriott hotel in Jakarta that left 12 people dead.

JI has long been suspected of having ties to Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, which was behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States that killed close to 3,000 people, most in New York.

Hambali allegedly headed JI until late 2002. He was arrested in Thailand in August 2003 and handed over to US authorities, who are currently detaining him at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The US also accuses Hambali of orchestrating and funding an attack on an Indonesian church on Christmas Eve 2000 that left 18 dead, and of plotting attacks on the embassies of the US, Britain and Australia in Singapore.

In a major setback for the Bush administration, the Supreme Court ruled in June 2008 that detainees being held without charge at Guantanamo enjoy the constitutional right of habeas corpus, which allows them to challenge their detention.
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2010-03-06 Southeast Asia
A group calling itself "al-Qaida in Aceh" claimed Saturday to be the target of a police crackdown in the Indonesian province, where authorities have arrested and charged suspected militants with planning terrorist attacks.

In a statement posted on the blog hosting site WordPress.com, the group said it had survived the police crackdown and pledged to continue its jihad against "Zionist Jews and Christians and apostates." Later Saturday, WordPress blocked access to the blog for violating its terms of service. It was not possible to authenticate the statement. Police spokesman Maj. Gen. Edward Aritonang said the statement was under investigation, and could yet prove to be a hoax.

Police have arrested 16 suspected militants in a series of raids in the deeply conservative province of Aceh since Feb. 22, the latest two on Saturday. Police suspect the group is linked to Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian offshoot of al-Qaida that has been blamed for twin bombings last year on hotels in Jakarta, and 2002 bombings on the island of Bali.

"As of the 10th day of the pursuit against us, we survive to continue jihad although some of our brothers were captured and martyred," the statement said. "We hereby assure Muslims that we will uphold our pledge to jihad against the Zionist Jews and Christians and apostates until God awards us victory, or we become martyrs in the way of Allah," it added.

Sidney Jones, Jakarta-based senior adviser for the International Crisis Group think tank, said she had never heard of the group and could not say whether the statement spoke for the militants in Aceh. She said militants in the province appeared to comprise several movements, including Jemaah Islamiyah.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Friday that the group, which he did not name, had set up in Aceh believing that Indonesian security forces had lost interest in the province since a violent separatist movement ended there in 2005. He said members of the separatist movement were not part of the new group.

Police say 14 of the suspects confessed to undergoing paramilitary training, including weapons use and hand-to-hand combat. They say the militants were preparing for a terrorist attack against an undisclosed target. They face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

On Saturday, two more suspected militants were arrested in Aceh but have yet to be charged, Aritonang said. He declined to detail the circumstances of those arrests.
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2010-03-05 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] THREE captured Islamic militants had been planning to launch bomb attacks in the Philippine capital in revenge for the killing of one of their commanders last month, the military said on Thursday.

The arrest of the three Filipinos in a Manila suburb on Wednesday thwarted the plot by the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, military spokesman Colonel Romeo Brawner said. 'They were out to do some bombings in Metro Manila, but this was foiled by their arrest,' Col. Brawner told AFP. 'It (the plot) is part of their terrorist activities and also part of their retaliation after the death of Albader Parad.'

Parad was a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf who was killed along with five other militants in a clash with the military on the southern island of Jolo last month. Philippine authorities hailed his death as a serious blow to the Abu Sayyaf, which has been blamed for the country's worst terrorists attacks, including the bombing of a ferry in Manila in 2004 that killed more than 100 people.

Col. Brawner said three arrested men were Abu Sayyaf members, but added they had been trained in bomb-making by the Jemaah Islamiyah, a militant group which has carried out dozens of bombings in neighbouring Indonesia over the past decade. 'They were trained by the Jemaah Islamiyah, foreign Jemaah Islamiyah members,' he told AFP.

He said that with the arrest of the three, the Abu Sayyaf did not have any more operatives in Manila at the moment. 'But this will not prevent them from sending more people,' he said.

Col. Brawner declined to reveal more details of the alleged bombing plot, only saying that the three men were still being interrogated by the military. The military said shortly after the trio's arrest that they were in possession of detonating cord, blasting caps and hand grenades.
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2010-03-05 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] INDONESIAN police have charged 14 suspected Islamist militants arrested in restive Aceh province with planning terrorist attacks and shot dead another, an official said on Thursday.

The men were caught in several raids since Feb 22, when the first four were arrested by police after a gunbattle in a suspected militant training camp in Aceh's mountains, police spokesman Maj. Gen. Edward Aritonang said. 'We have been able to prove that they were planning terrorist acts,' he told reporters.

They confessed to undergoing paramilitary training including weapons use and hand-to-hand combat at the raided camp in preparation for a terrorist attack, he said, declining to specify the alleged target.

Under Indonesia's tough counterterrorism laws enacted in 2003, a conviction for planning a terrorist attack can carry a maximum prison term of 20 years.

Another suspect was shot dead by police after he fled with two men on a bus that was stopped at a police checkpoint before dawn Wednesday, Maj. Aritonang said. Witnesses said the other two men escaped.

Maj. Aritonang previously said one of the suspects received terrorist training overseas, but he refused to say where. Police were investigating whether the men, all Indonesian nationals, were part of the Malaysian-born terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah, he said. No other terrorist groups are known to be active in Aceh.
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2010-03-02 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] INDONESIAN police have charged four men with terrorism-related offenses after they were arrested in a raid on a suspected paramilitary training camp in the restive province of Aceh a week ago, a newspaper reported on Monday.

Aceh Police Chief Commander Esa Permadi said the men - two from Aceh and two from the main Indonesian island of Java - had been charged under tough counterterrorism laws enacted in 2003, the Jakarta Globe newspaper reported.

The report did not give details of the charges, and police declined to comment on the report on Monday. A national police official in Jakarta, Brig. Gen. Sulistiyo Ishak, told The Associated Press that an announcement on the prisoners' status would be made on Tuesday.

The four were arrested Feb 22 when more than 100 police officers raided the suspected training camp hidden in Aceh mountains. Police are allowed to hold the four without charge until Tuesday.

Police say 50 armed militants fled into the jungle after an hour-long gunbattle in which an innocent bystander was killed in the crossfire. Police say they suspect the arrested men are part of the first cell of the Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah ever found in Aceh. But several security analysts independent of the investigation have expressed doubts about a JI link, although there are currently no other militant groups known to operate in Aceh.

Al-Qaida-linked JI has been blamed for a number of bloody attacks in Southeast Asia, including a 2002 bombing on the resort island of Bali that killed 202 people. Information gleaned from the four suspects led police to arrest another three suspected militants on Thursday in a raid on a village house in Aceh. All seven suspects are in police custody in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh.
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2010-03-02 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] SEVEN men arrested in a raid by anti-terror police in a remote region of Indonesia's Aceh last week were possibly given military training overseas, police said on Monday.

'None of them are foreigners but there's an indication that they have had training abroad,' national police spokesman Edward Aritonang told reporters, without specifying which countries.

'We're trying to get more details about this,' he said, adding that the suspects had been charged with terrorism-related activities.

More than 100 heavily-armed police took part in the raid last week in a forested part of Aceh Besar, where some 50 militants were said to be conducting military-style training including the use of firearms.

During the raid, police found rifles, Malaysian military uniforms and propaganda material including videos of the 2002 bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali which killed more than 200 people.

Provincial police chief Aditya Warman said the suspects were 'strongly suspected' of being part of regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, which is blamed for multiple attacks across Indonesia.
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2010-02-23 Southeast Asia
Indonesian police said Tuesday they had arrested four people after a major raid on a terrorist training camp in a remote region of Aceh province and were pursuing dozens who escaped. Aceh police chief Aditya Warman said some 50 militants were using the camp and "strongly suspected" of being part of regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), blamed for multiple attacks across Indonesia.

More than 100 heavily armed police took part in the raid just before midnight Monday in a forested part of Aceh Besar district, about 70 kilometres (40 miles) east of the provincial capital Banda Aceh. The militants were conducting military-style training including the use of firearms. Only three were caught in the raid and the rest escaped into the jungle, the police chief said. A police spokesman later updated the number arrested to four.

Police found rifles, Malaysian military uniforms and terrorist propaganda material including videos of the 2002 bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali which killed more than 200 people, mainly Western tourists.

"We received information that there were training activities comprising 50 people from a group suspected to be related to Jemaah Islamiyah," Warman said. "The group keeps moving around to avoid police detection. They have moved over four districts.

"We found books on jihad (holy war), CDs on bombings in Bali and other areas, Malaysian military uniforms. There's a jacket with the word 'Jemaah' ('congregation') on it, among other things."

The police chief said operations were ongoing to track down the remaining suspects. "We've known about them since September but we couldn't find them until now," he said, adding that the group included foreigners who were able to "blend in" with locals.

"We're very careful when dealing with this group so we must coordinate with national police," Warman said. "We will continue to chase them."
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2010-02-20 Southeast Asia
Indonesia has fallen off the map of the most-terror-prone places on Earth, corporate intelligence forecasters say. How did that happen in a nation once plagued by Bali's bombers? By annihilating the enemy.
We watched it happen here. I was surprised in some respects, informed in others, gratified in still others...
This week, Britain's Maplecroft group, an assessor of corporate risk, dropped Indonesia from its top 10 nations most likely to experience a mass-casualty terrorist attack. The group bases its Terrorism Risk Index entries on frequency and intensity of terror attacks and a nation's history. Likewise, the Swedish National Defense College has concluded that there's a diminishing threat in Indonesia.
That's not the same as no threat at all, but it's a substantial improvement...
If that sounds academic, consider that Indonesian and U.S. officials said no significant security risks threaten President Obama ahead of his weeklong trip to Indonesia next month.
If there's anything there you can be sure it'll put in an appearance when the U.S. prez arrives...
Now, to be sure, terrorism isn't completely gone from Indonesia. But there's been a lot of silence recently from that island country on the terror front. For a nation that experienced some fearsome terror attacks in past years, each quiet month is a sign of victory.
So why has the threat dropped off so dramatically, Johnny?
The reason isn't hard to recognize:Last September, Indonesian commandos blew away a Malaysian terrorist named Noordin Mohammed Top, who had a hand in every major Indonesian terror attack since the first Bali bombing of 2002. It says something that getting rid of a single terrorist kingpin could have such an impact on Indonesia's outlook. But it did.
Noordin was the last of the Jemaah Islamiyah majors. The reason his demise was significant was that there now aren't any more of them left. That entire crop is either worm food or they've moved indoors for extended periods.
That offers a reminder of what it takes to win a war on terror. Miranda warnings, civilian trials and shaking down blue-haired ladies at airports don't do it. Hunting and killing terrorists do.
And leave us not forget good intel. You have to know who to hunt down and where to look...
That's important because some analysts, such as Jakarta-based senior adviser Sidney Jones of Crisis Group International, have claimed Indonesia's progress is a result of turning the war on terror into a police action. She explained in a January interview with Voice of America that civilian trials helped win public trust.
Sidney's a nice lady, but she's a touchy-feely sort from what I understand.
She's not completely wrong, but to look at what Indonesia did suggests more of a militarization of its police forces than trust in the routine civilian mechanisms of police action. Indonesia treated terrorism with the urgency of warfare, even if its police took the lead. That was possible only because of strong leadership and big public backing.
The leadership, recall, didn't come from the top down, which I consider damned significant. In October 2002 Indonesia was under the mushy hopey changey leadership of Megawati Sukarnoputri. Her vice president, the loathsome Hamzah Haz, was an Islamist who had spent the past year contemptuously pooh-poohing the idea of any kind of Islamic terror threat, hanging around with Abu Bakr Bashir and Jafar Umar Thalib. When the bad guyz detonated it was the guy who's the current president, then the relatively obscure Coordinating Minister of Political and Security Affairs in Mega's cabinet who took the ball and ran with it in spite of (not because of) the lacklusters at the top.
Both reflect Indonesia's democracy and growing political freedom, which studies show repel terror. And no, the country didn't turn into a military state by treating terror as war. Indonesians set the actions into motion by electing a military man, Bambang Susilo Yudhoyono, as their president in 2004 and by reelecting him in 2009. The Indonesian general ran on a tough anti-terrorist platform and kept his word on that.
I think he was elected because of his bulldog tenacity in hunting down Jemaah Islamiyah. Hamzah Haz ran in the 2004 election and came in dead last, with 3 percent of the vote. SBY followed his intel leads and he did as nice a job of network analysis as you could want to see. All of the JI members were neatly tied together, virtually all of them through blood or marriage relationships -- as we commented at the time, and they were all family. The entire threat to national security was shown to consist of about 60 people, maybe 70 or 75 by the time Noordin finally got done recruiting and burning new fodder. Sidney can say it was a "police problem," but from here it looked like it was solved as an intel problem.
Isn't Al Qaeda much the same -- lots of marrying off of female relatives to promising young management candidates over the years? And it sounds like the Taliban -- both Afghan and Pakistani -- are family organizations, at least at the top. Taking the concept of crime family to a new level, that.
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2010-02-10 Southeast Asia
A suspected member of late terror leader Noordin Mohammad Top's network appeared in an Indonesian court Wednesday charged over twin suicide attacks on luxury hotels in Jakarta last year.

The bombings killed seven people as well as the two suicide bombers and marked the bloody end of a four-year hiatus in attacks attributed to Noordin and Al-Qaeda-linked regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah.

Noordin's alleged driver, Amir Abdillah, could face multiple death sentences if convicted on charges including carrying out an act of terrorism, providing explosive materials and harbouring terrorist suspects.

Prosecutors said he was also part of a plot to assassinate Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and had booked a room at the JW Marriott hotel which the hotel bombers used to prepare their attacks.

"He assisted in an act of terrorism by way of purposely using violence and stirring an atmosphere of terror and widespread fear," prosecutor Totok Bambang said.

Two Islamic extremists with backpacks filled with homemade bombs blew themselves up at the neighbouring JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels in downtown Jakarta on July 17.

Abdillah wore the white garb of a devout Muslim, joked with journalists and smiled during the hearing, but was not required to enter a plea.

Police have said his arrest shortly after the hotel blasts was crucial to subsequent operations which ultimately led to the killing or capture of Malaysian Islamist Noordin and several of his accomplices.
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2010-01-30 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] AN ISLAMIC extremist accused of killing 22 people in the bombing of a Christian market in Indonesia in 2005 has been arrested, the police said on Friday.

Police said Eko Budi Wardoyo, also known as Ada Munsih or Amin, was caught a week ago in Sidoarjo, East Java province.

'The police have succeeded in arresting a suspect who was involved in the bombing in Tentena, Poso, in 2005,' police spokesman Edward Aritonang said.

'He was also involved in the shooting of priest Susianti Tinulele, and the bombing of the Tual market in Palu,' Mr Aritonang said.

On May 28, 2005, two bombs tore through a meat market in the mainly Christian town of Tentena, in Central Sulawesi's Poso Regency, in an attack blamed on regional Islamic terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Police would not comment on whether Wardoyo was a member of JI.

Tinulele was shot dead in a church in Palu, Central Sulawesi's capital, in July, 2004.
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2010-01-29 India-Pakistan
[Dawn] The Philippine military doubts reports that a Filipino terror suspect was killed in a US missile attack in Pakistan, with one senior officer telling The Associated Press Thursday that the militant was sighted last week in the Philippines' volatile south.

Pakistani military intelligence officers said last week that Abdul Basit Usman, who is wanted by the United States, was believed killed in an American drone strike on Jan. 14 on the border of Pakistan's South and North Waziristan tribal regions.

Another 11 militants were also killed in the strike on a militant compound near the Afghan border. Authorities have previously said the attack had targeted the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud.

US and Philippine military officials tried to verify the report. If confirmed, it could indicate stronger ties between Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network and Southeast Asian terrorist groups than previously thought.

Philippine military spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner said their intelligence indicates so far that Usman has not left the country and is hiding in Muslim guerrilla strongholds in the south's mountainous heartland.

The military, however, will continue to investigate and will be ready to cooperate with Pakistani authorities in conducting DNA tests if tissue samples from the slain militant can be secured.

'There is a bigger probability that it's not him, than it's him,' Brawner said.

The slain militant appears to have been a different person, also named Usman, said US and Filipino military officials who oversee counterterrorism operations in the southern Philippines. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of their work.

The Philippine military official told The AP that Usman was sighted near southern Maguindanao province last week, adding he was '99 percent sure that he's still here in the country.'

The US State Department's list of most-wanted terrorists identifies Usman as a bomb-making expert with links to the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf extremist group and the Southeast Asian Jemaah Islamiyah network. It offers $1 million for information leading to his conviction, and says he is believed responsible for bombings in the southern Philippines in 2006 and 2007 that killed 15 people.

Philippine police captured Usman in 2002 for a bomb attack that killed 15 people and wounded 100 others in the southern port city of General Santos, but he escaped from jail, according to police.

Usman was among those charged for allegedly helping plot an Oct. 10, 2006 bombing that killed eight people and wounded 28 others near a Roman Catholic church during a fiesta celebration in Makilala town in southern North Cotabato province.

He also was charged in another bombing that day that wounded four people in a crowded public market in southern Tacurong city.

Usman has not been convicted of any of the crimes.
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2010-01-28 Home Front: WoT
The men, aged between 20 and 50 years old, were attending a religious meeting in Kuala Lumpur when they were detained by police.

Malaysia's interior minister said police were tipped off by international intelligence agencies that the meeting was being held by an Islamic religious group. The government-linked New Straits Times newspaper claims that US intelligence had alerted Malaysian authorities to the meeting, and that the 10 men are linked to Abdulmutallab.

The 10 suspects are from Malaysia, Syria, Nigeria, Jordan and Yemen.

Abdulmutallab -- who studied mechanical engineering at University College, London from 2005 -- 2008 -- was arrested after he attempted to detonate explosives sewn into his underwear on-board Northwest Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit.

"They posed a serious security threat and have been detained under the ISA (Internal Security Act)," said Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein. "I can confirm that they were linked to an international terrorist organisation but I cannot share any further information as this would jeopardise ongoing investigations."
"I can say no more!"
The ISA allows indefinite detention without trial in Malaysia, and has been attacked by human rights groups for giving the government too much power. It was introduced during the British colonial era for use against communist insurgents. It has been used in recent years to detain opponents of the government and the regional Islamic terrorist group, Jemaah Islamiyah.
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2010-01-23 India-Pakistan
[Dawn] Philippine authorities said Friday they were investigating reports that one of the country's most wanted militants may have been killed by a US missile strike in Pakistan.

Abdul Basit Usman was among several people believed to have been killed on January 14 in a US drone attack that targeted Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a remote area of northern Pakistan, according to various media reports.

"If the reports are true then it is good news for us because the killing of Basit Usman means one less terrorist on the street," Lieutenant General Benjamin Dolorfino, military commander in the southwestern Philippines, told AFP.

But he added: "We still have to verify the reports." Dolorfino said Usman was involved in many deadly bombings in the southern Philippines' Mindanao region, where insurgents have waged a decades-old separatist rebellion in which more than 150,000 people have died.

The US government has offered one million-dollar bounty for information leading to Usman's capture, according to its "Rewards for Justice" website.

The website, run by the US State Department, described him as a bomb-making expert with links to the Abu Sayyaf, a Philippines' militant organisation blamed for the nation's worst attacks.

It also said he had links to Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian extremist group that is linked to Al-Qaeda and been blamed for major attacks including the 2002 Bali bombings in Indonesia that killed 202 people.

"US authorities consider Basit to be a threat to US and Filipino citizens and interests. Basit is believed to have orchestrated several bombings that have killed, injured, and maimed many innocent civilians," the website said.

The Philippine military previously said Usman also had links to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the nation's largest Muslim guerrilla group that has led the long-running rebellion in the south.

MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu said it was also looking into the reports Usman had been killed, while reiterating the group's position that it was not involved with him.

"We are trying to verify (those) reports," Kabalu said.

"As far as we know, Usman had links with Jemaah Islamiyah and Al-Qaeda, and could be fighting alongside the Taliban, which has links with Al-Qaeda."
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2010-01-21 Terror Networks
Dancing girls pic pulled, accordion lady substituted. Let's get confirmation. A severed head would be nice.
A Filipino militant wanted by the United States is believed to have been killed in an American drone strike close to the Afghan border earlier this month, Pakistani intelligence officials said Thursday.

If confirmed, the death of Abdul Basit Usman would represent another success for the U.S. covert missile program on targets in Pakistan. There have been an unprecedented number of attacks this month following a deadly Dec. 30 militant attack on a CIA base in Afghanistan.

Two military intelligence officers in northwestern Pakistan said Usman was believed killed on Jan. 14 on the border of Pakistan's South and North Waziristan tribal regions. Another 11 militants were also killed in the strike on a militant compound. Authorities have previously said the attack had targeted the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud.

There had been no previous indication Usman was in Pakistan. If the reports of his death in Pakistan are true, it may indicate stronger ties between al-Qaida and Southeast Asian terrorist groups than previously thought.

The U.S. State Department's list of most-wanted terrorists identifies Usman as a bomb-making expert with links to the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf militant group and the Southeast Asian Jemaah Islamiyah network. It puts a bounty of U.S. $1 million for information leading to his conviction, and says he is believed responsible for bombings in the southern Philippines in 2006 and 2007 that killed 15 people.
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2009-11-14 India-Pakistan
By Ashok Malik

Many Indians fear the collapse of Pakistan and the imminent takeover of the state by a rampaging army ofAllah. They worry the Pakistani elite — English speaking, whisky drinking, Western and liberal in its personal lives — will simply run away, leaving behind a rump civil society: Illiterate and undereducated millions who will become cannon fodder for the Islamists.

Reality may not be so black and white. It is more likely the Islamisation of Pakistans polity and society — the tussle between an upper crust that is half embarrassed, half in denial and, at the back of its mind, very, very afraid, and the mullah-jihadi duumvirate — will be a gradual one.

For security reasons, external powers will shore up the nominally secular or moderate elite. The debate between local traditions and mono-cultural, Arab interpretations of Islam will be long drawn, and while headed in one direction will not end in one day, perhaps not even in one century. What it will do, however, is paralyse a society and not let it achieve its potential.

How do we know this? Is there a template for Pakistan? Perhaps there is no one template but several, spread across failed states and a variety of Islamic societies caught in a wrenching struggle between the call of a supranational faith and a modernity rooted in nationalism. The author may not have intended it that way, but Sadanand Dhumes book My Friend, the Fanatic (Tranquebar), just released in India, not only interrogates Indonesias conversion, inch by inch, from a country of pluralist Muslims to one where Islamism is clearly on the ascendant, but also offers us a prism through which to understand Pakistan.

As Dhume, a Washington-based writer and cartographer of the many social Islams that inevitably seem to gravitate towards the one political Islam, puts it in a conversation, Indonesia represents the eastern edge of a historical contest between “the Sanskritic and Arabist civilisations”. The contest was lost centuries ago at its western end — Afghanistan — and has ceded ground, by miles rather than inches, in Pakistan.

In 1947, Pakistan was a Muslim homeland but still a South Asian country, very much situated in the ethos of the Indian subcontinent. Today, it looks in the direction of West Asia and the Arabian desert for a mother culture and a societal anchor. Likewise, says Dhume, the young Muslim boys and girls growing up in Java are probably the first generation in their communities “who do not know who Bhima and Arjuna were”. Islamist preachers have, for instance, forbidden rice farmers worshipping a local goddess of fertility, whose origins lie in a pre-Islamic veneration of agriculture.

Indeed, the evolution of Indonesian society in the period following the 2002 Bali bombings is particularly insightful. Dhume reports this in real time. Landing in Bali as a news reporter the day after the attack on the Sari nightclub killed some 150 Australian tourists, he was fascinated by the radicalism that was beginning to become more than just a fringe movement in a country he had travelled to and lived in. He quit his job and decided to become a chronicler of Indonesias new engagement with Islam.

The book is a result of those efforts. Dhume captures a period when the Islamisation debate was no more a passive, theoretical discussion. It acquired a trenchant edge and was, to use a colloquial expression, very in-your-face. It was a period that forced people to make choices, and also pushed upper class elites into denial, dissimulation, saying different things to different audiences, and pretending the problem would resolve itself. In a sense, this could describe Pakistan after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.

There are other parallels. Each time there is a Taliban-triggered bombing in, say, Peshawar, crowds gather and chant slogans against America and India. After the Bali bombings, Indonesia was subjected to numerous and fairly complicated theories arguing American and Israeli intelligence were behind the massacre.

There were comic phenomena, and then there were chilling ones. After Bali, Abu Bakar Bashir, leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah, became a terrorist icon and South-East Asias Osama bin Laden. In large swathes of Indonesia, however, he was anointed a folk hero. Herry, the friend and fanatic Dhume refers to in his book title, named Bashir “Man of the Year” on the cover of the magazine he (Herry) edited.

Herry takes Dhume to meet Bashir in his prison cell, greeting the evil genius as “ustad” (a term of respect with origins in Arabic rather than Bahasa or any known Indonesian language). Bashir is blunt: “Bush said if youre not with us youre against us. Im against them. Its a choice — like water and fire, or between carrots and steak. Im a Muslim. Im a leader of Hezbollah (the party of God); he is the leader of the kafirs.”

Bashir had made his choice. He expected everybody in Indonesia to make theirs too — or face the consequences.

In the time Dhume knows them, Herry and wife have two daughters. The first is named Draupadi, as is so common with Indonesians comfortable with a Muslim religious identity and a Hindu cultural idiom. By the time the younger daughter, Ziyadilma, comes along, Herry has exorcised himself of his pre-Islamic legacy (or baggage). He is now writing pamphlets called Signs of Freemasons and Zionists in Indonesia, exploring hidden meanings in pyramids on United States dollar bills and — combining economic grievance with religious prejudice — holding forth on “the Jewish characteristics of the Chinese”.

Is it any different from street discourse in Lahore or Rawalpindi denouncing the scheming Hindu ‘lalas? The economically successful neighbour is always a problem, in Mexico as much as in North Korea. In Islamist mythology, however, the successful neighbour is also the religious infidel, a regional variant of the grasping Shylockian Jew.

In the past half-decade, Indonesia has not surrendered to JI or to the Islamist political parties. Rather, pushed by Australia, it has busted terror cells, and its elite continue their libertine partying amid the dazzle of upmarket Jakarta. The economy too has begun to recover. Yet, even in a country blessed with enormous natural resources and rich economic and social achievement this is not going to be enough. The Islamist straitjacket can be pushed back but never broken. To think that could be Pakistans best case scenario.
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2009-11-14 India-Pakistan
[The News (Pak) Top Stories] Pakistan's army once ran training camps for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT) militant group with the apparent knowledge of the CIA, an example of complicity that raises questions about the current state of the nuclear-armed nation. So says former French investigating magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere, author of a new book that provides rare insight both into alleged past army support for the defunct Lashkar-e-Taiba and to the group's connections to a global network linked to al-Qaeda.

The question of Pakistani military support for Islamist militants is crucial for the United States as it tries to work out how to stabilise the country and neighbouring Afghanistan.Bruguiere bases the information in his book on international terrorism, "Ce que je n'ai pas pu dire" ("What I could not say") on testimony given by jailed Frenchman Willy Brigitte, who spent 2-1/2 months in a Lashkar-e-Taiba training camp in 2001-02.

In an interview, Bruguiere said he was convinced Lashkar-e-Taiba, first set up to fight India in its part of the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir, had become part of an international network tied to al-Qaeda. "Lashkar-e-Taiba is no longer a Pakistani movement with only a Kashmir political or military agenda. Lashkar-e-Taiba is a member of al-Qaeda. Lashkar-e-Taiba has decided to expand violence worldwide," he told Reuters.
That's pretty much a given, isn't it? They provide training facilities and cadres for al-Qaeda. Three of them were arrested in Bangla in today's news plotting and kaboom the U.S. embassy in Dhaka in an expression of the Bangla people's outrage at our existence...
He was "very, very anxious about the situation" in Pakistan, where militants are staging a series of bloody urban attacks to avenge a government offensive against their strongholds. "The problem right now is to know if the Pakistanis have sufficient power to control the situation," he said.
They don't. If they change their ways they might in the future, but they're not really changing their ways. They're trying to go after the Pak Taliban but not the al-Qaeda infrastructure or the Afghan Taliban infrastructure in Balochistan and North Wazoo.
The problem was also "to know if all the members of the military forces and the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence agency) are playing the same game. I am not sure," he added.
I'm sure they're not, and I'm also sure that the ones who aren't are not "rogue."
Pakistan has long been accused of giving covert support to Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was blamed for last year's attack on Mumbai in which 166 people were killed. It denies the allegation and has banned the organisation.
But Hafiz Saeed isn't in jug, the charges against him were dropped and he never did more than house arrest. Pak military trainers provided training and logistical assistance the the Mumbai killers. And LeT is about as "defunct" as I am, maybe less so.
New form of terrorism: Bruguiere said he became aware of the changing nature of international terrorism while investigating attacks in Paris in the mid-1990s by the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA). These included an attempt to hijack a plane from Algiers to Paris in 1994 and crash it into the Eiffel Tower -- a forerunner of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks. The plane was diverted to Marseilles and stormed by French security forces.

This new style of international terrorism was quite unlike militant groups he had investigated in the past, with their pyramidal structures and political objectives. "After 1994/1995, like viruses, all the groups have been spreading on a very large scale all over the world, in a horizontal way and even a random way," he said.
It doesn't cost much to be a terrorist. The November 14th-Red Brigades-Baader Meinhof model works perfectly well for small-scale operations, and even big blow-outs like killing Aldo Moro, if you're willing to take the casualties. Note that Jemaah Islamiyah, for instance, was effectively wiped out after the Bali bombings.
An early encounter with Lashkar-e-Taiba came while he was investigating shoe-bomber Richard Reid, who tried to set off explosives on a transatlantic flight from Paris in 2001. This investigation led to a man, who Bruguiere said was the Lashkar-e-Taiba's representative in Paris, and who was suspected of helping Reid -- an accusation he denied. Bruguiere said the link to Reid was not proved in court.

"Willie Brigitte quickly understood that Sajid Mir belonged to the regular Pakistan army. The Toyota pick-up which took them to the training camp passed through four army checkpoints without being stopped."
Brigitte, a Frenchman originally from France's Caribbean department of Guadeloupe, had gone to Pakistan shortly after Sept 11 to try to reach Afghanistan. Unable to make it, he had been sent to a Lashkar centre outside Lahore. A man named Sajid Mir became his handler. "He quickly understood that Sajid belonged to the regular Pakistan army," wrote Bruguiere. After 1-1/2 months, he was taken with four other trainees, two British and two Americans, to a Lashkar camp in the hills in Punjab province. The Toyota pick-up which took them there passed through four army checkpoints without being stopped.

During his 2-1/2 months stay at the camp, Bruguiere says, Brigitte realised the instructors were soldiers on detachment. Military supplies were dropped by army helicopters. Brigitte said he and other foreigners were forced four times to leave the camp and move further up into the hills to avoid being caught by CIA officers. They were believed to be checking if Pakistan had kept to a deal under which the Americans turned a blind eye to Lashkar camps in Punjab provided no foreigners were trained there. In return, Bruguiere said, Pakistan under then president Pervez Musharraf helped track down leaders of al-Qaeda.

Double standards: Western countries were at the time accused by India of double standards in tolerating Pakistani support for Kashmir-focused organisations while pushing it to crack down on militant groups which threatened Western interests. Diplomats say that attitude has since changed, particularly after bombings in London in 2005 highlighted the risks of "home-grown terrorism" in Britain linked to militant groups based in Pakistan's Punjab province.

After leaving the camp accompanied by Sajid, Brigitte was sent back to France. Sajid then ordered him to fly to Australia where he joined a cell later accused of plotting attacks there. Tipped off by French police, Brigitte was deported from Australia in 2003 and convicted by a French court of links to terrorism.

Bruguiere said he had personally questioned Brigitte in the presence of his lawyer to check his testimony. Information provided by Brigitte was also crosschecked by French police based on mobile phone and e-mail traffic. Bruguiere went to Pakistan himself in 2006 as part of his investigations into the deaths of 11 Frenchmen in a bombing outside a hotel in Karachi in 2002. He stepped down as France's best-known counter-terrorism expert in 2007 and now represents the EU on the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme in Washington.
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2009-10-09 Southeast Asia
JAKARTA -- Indonesian anti-terror forces killed two brothers wanted over the July 17 hotel bombings during a raid Friday on a militant hideout in the city, a police source said. Asked to confirm local media reports that Syaifudin Zuhri bin Jaelani and Mohammed Syahrir were the two men killed in the raid, the source from the elite counter-terror squad said only: "Yes".
"I can say no more."
A police spokesman told a press conference later Friday that the brothers were the targets of the raid and confirmed that two men had been killed. But he refused to identify the dead men, saying the results of forensic examinations on the bodies would be announced on Monday.

Jaelani is a Yemen-educated Islamic extremist and "healer" who is accused of recruiting the two suicide bombers who detonated themselves at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta in July, killing seven people. His brother, Mohammed Syahrir, once worked as a technician for national airline Garuda Indonesia and is known to police from their investigations into the 2004 truck bombing of the Australian embassy, according to analysts.

The brothers were accomplices of slain Malaysian terror leader Noordin Mohammed Top, the alleged mastermind of the hotel attacks who was killed by police in Central Java on September 17.
Rolling up his network. Sweet
Gunfire and an explosion were heard as police raided the house in Ciputat on the capital's southern outskirts, witnesses said. Police spokesman Nanan Soekarna said the suspects threw "firebombs" at the raiding party before they were killed.
"You'll never take us alive, coppers!"

Ikbal Tanjung, who rented another room in the two-storey house, said three people had recently moved into the room targeted by police. They kept to themselves and did not mix with their neighbours, who were mostly university students, he added.

According to the International Crisis Group (ICG) think-tank, the brothers were "pivotal" members of the terror cell that carried out the hotel attacks. Two of their sisters were married to other key figures in the cell, the ICG said in an August report.
That fits the standard islamic terror cell profile.
Jaelani "almost certainly had direct contact with Al-Qaeda" but was not known to police before the hotel attacks, the report said.

Noordin led a splinter faction of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terror group, which he once dubbed "Al-Qaeda in the Malay Archipelago". In addition to the July hotel blasts, he was blamed for a 2003 attack on the Marriott, the 2004 bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta and 2005 attacks on tourist restaurants on Bali, killing almost 50 people in total.

Another of his disciples who is believed to have helped him hide from police handed himself in to authorities a week ago.
A week in the tender custody of the Indo cops, possibly he gave up the brothers
Bet it only took a day, the remaining six were on the house ...
Noordin and his followers dreamt of creating an Islamic caliphate spanning much of Southeast Asia and advocated the use of indiscriminate violence to protect Muslims from perceived oppression around the world. He was inspired by Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's call for global jihad against the West and allegedly received funding from Al-Qaeda for the first Marriott bombing.
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2009-10-03 Southeast Asia
A CLOSE aide of slain Malaysian terror leader Noordin Mohammed Top has handed himself in to Indonesian authorities, police said Saturday. National police spokesman Nanan Soekarna said in a text message Aris Ma'ruf, 23, surrendered to police in the Central Java district of Temanggung late Friday after months on the run.
"Please don't kill me!"
'After interrogation, he was brought to the Central Java police headquarters to be handed over to the Central Java head of Special Detachment 88,' he said, referring to Indonesia's crack US and Australia-backed anti-terror squad.

Mr Soekarna did not say if Ma'ruf would be charged with any crime. Under Indonesian law, a person detained in connection with terrorism can be held for seven days before being declared a suspect.

International Crisis Group analyst Sidney Jones said Ma'ruf had been an acolyte of Noordin, 41, who had helped hide him from police during his six-year manhunt.

Noordin, who was killed in a bloody raid by the police last month in Central Java, is believed to have masterminded the July suicide bombing of Jakarta's JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels that left seven people dead. The 41-year old Malaysian national was also blamed for a 2003 attack on the Marriott that killed 12 people, as well as the 2004 bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta and 2005 attacks on tourist restaurants on the holiday island of Bali.

Noordin, a former accountant, led a violent splinter faction of the radical Jemaah Islamiyah network that he once dubbed 'Al-Qaeda in the Malay Archipelago'. His body was buried with full Muslim rites in the Malaysian state of Johor on Friday.
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2009-09-26 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] THE body of slain Islamist militant leader Noordin Mohammed Top will be returned to Malaysia next week, Indonesia's police chief said Friday.

'On Thursday, God willing, (Noordin's) family will come here to take the body to Johor, Malaysia,' national police chief Bambang Hendarso Danuri told reporters.

Malaysian Noordin, a 41-year-old who led a violent splinter faction of the radical Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) network was killed along with three other militants at the bloody end of a nine-hour siege in Central Java last week. Police said earlier in the week they had decided to hand Noordin's body over to his first wife in Malaysia, Rahmah Rusdi, with whom he had three children.

Two other women he had married while on the run in Indonesia had their request to access the body turned down by Indonesian police because their marriages were never officially registered.

Police also announced Friday that three people who were arrested during last week's swoop near Solo city had been officially named suspects, a legal move allowing them to be held for longer.

Supono, alias Kedu, faces likely terror charges for assisting Noordin and helping in a foiled plot to blow up the home of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with a truck bomb, police spokesman Nanan Soekarna said.

Another suspect, Bejo, faces charges over helping to shelter Noordin. Putri Munawaroh, the wife of one of the militants killed in the raid, also faces charges of sheltering Noordin.

The death of Noordin brought to an end an exhaustive manhunt for a man who led an organisation he once labelled 'Al-Qaeda in the Malay Archipelago' and who was blamed for a string of deadly attacks.

He is believed to have masterminded the meticulously planned double suicide bombing of the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in the Indonesian capital Jakarta in July in which seven people were killed.

He is also said to have been behind a 2003 attack on the Marriott that killed 12 people, as well as the 2004 bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta and 2005 attacks on tourist restaurants on the holiday island of Bali.
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2009-09-21 Southeast Asia
This one is for 49 Pan, among others. Let the ululations begin!
Philippine authorities said soldiers killed as many as 17 suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group Sunday and discovered a heavily fortified bunker complex that appears to be the group's base of operations on an island that has given them years of trouble.

The discovery could explain why Abu Sayyaf has remained so elusive on the relatively small island of Jolo, about 590 miles south of Manila, despite years of U.S. military assistance and training in the area.

Philippine soldiers were tracking suspected Abu Sayyaf members when they stumbled on the complex, military officials said. The complex could accommodate as many as 500 people, and the various bunkers were connected by a network of trenches cut into the steep mountainside, said Ben Dolorfino, a lieutenant general in the Philippine army. During Sunday's six-hour battle, the military called in air strikes, he said.

Abu Sayyaf guerrillas Monday ambushed and killed eight Philippine soldiers who were returning to base after securing the rebels' lair, authorities said.
Clearly there is still mopping up to be done. Let us wish the moppers happy hunting!
The guerrilla group, which first came to international prominence in 2000 for kidnapping and ransoming tourists, has baffled Philippine military officials for the way its members seemingly melt away into Jolo's dense foliage. The unearthing of the bunker network suggests how Abu Sayyaf has been able to persist on the roughly 40-mile-wide island despite intensive manhunts and the use of U.S. satellites.

Philippine military officials are now preparing to examine the Jolo bunker complex for further clues to how the seemingly loose-knit Abu Sayyaf and its top leaders operate.
A map of all their hidden bunkers would be a lovely find...
Philippine authorities said Sunday's battle may already have disrupted a meeting between Abu Sayyaf chieftains who were being tracked in the area, including Isnilon Hapilon, for whom the U.S. is offering a bounty of $5 million for information leading to his capture.

Formed in the late 1980s with financing provided by one of Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law, Abu Sayyaf was intended to radicalize the Philippines' more established Muslim insurgency, but for a period it degenerated into kidnapping for ransom.

The group later attempted to attract the attention of al Qaeda-linked financiers by teaming up with militants in neighboring Malaysian and Indonesia, including members of the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah group, which orchestrated the Bali bombings. Philippine intelligence officials say Abu Sayyaf is still harboring two important Indonesian terrorist suspects, Umar Patek and Dulmatin, who are wanted for their alleged role in the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed over 200 people.

The Abu Sayyaf rebels themselves have planned major terrorist attacks across the Philippines, including the firebombing of a crowded ferry in Manila Bay in 2004 that killed 116 people.
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2009-09-18 Southeast Asia
JOHOR BAHARU, Sept 18 (Bernama) -- The body of Asia's number one terrorist, Noordin Mohammad Top, is only expected to be brought back to Malaysia next week for burial in his family's village in Pontian. According to a source, Indonesia needed between four to five days more to examine Noordin's body before handing it over to Malaysia and his family.
Taking the time to make sure he's really, really dead.
"Two of Noordin's family members, probably his elder brother known as 'Yahya' and his younger brother known as 'Isa' will go to Jakarta next week with Malaysian police officers to identify and claim the body. "Noordin's wife who lives in Kampung Sungai Tiram, Johor Baharu will not go to Jakarta to claim the body," the source told Bernama in an interview Friday.
No doubt deep in mourning, or shopping for a new husband
Isn't that generally taken care of by her brother?
Observation by Bernama of Noordin's family house today in Kampung Kayu Ara Pasong, Pontian found that it was uninhabited.

Noordin, 41, who headed a more radical splinter group of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) was killed yesterday after his hideout in Solo, Central Java was raided by Indonesia's elite anti-terrorist unit Densus 88. Noordin's death ended a six-year hunt for the person believed to be responsible for a series bomb attacks that killed tens of people in the republic. Asia's number one terrorist was alleged to be responsible for the bomb attacks on the Ritz Charlton Hotel and the J.W Marriot Hotel in Jakarta on July 17 which killed nine people including the two suicide bombers.

According to the source there was no need for Noordin's family members and police officers to go to Jakarta now as the process of examining his body was not completed.
Driving a stake through his heart takes time.
However, the source said, the process of identifying Noordin by DNA that takes about 30 hours would be completed tonight or tomorrow and the result announced.
Another site which won't open for me seems to indicate the DNA test is positive
The Indonesian authorities have already identified the body as Noordin's based on fingerprints and other physical marks.

Meanwhile the source also denied local media reports that the death of the most wanted terrorist was due to his blowing himself up to avoid being taken alive.
"Noordin died due to being shot on several parts of his body including the feet, hands and head. He had a serious wound on the back of his head behind his right ear, probably due to being shot," the source said.
Interesting shot distribution. Almost like someone was taking their time...
Still, the source said, the face was in good condition and this made the identification process easier.
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2009-09-04 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] THE most-wanted Islamist mastermind allegedly behind deadly July suicide bombings in Jakarta is likely hiding out on Indonesia's main island of Java, a top anti-terror fighter said on Thursday.

Malaysian Noordin Mohammed Top, one of Asia's most-wanted militants, is believed to have chosen to stay on the densely populated island despite a nationwide manhunt, security ministry anti-terror chief Ansyaad Mbai told AFP.

Noordin was believed to have narrowly escaped a massive police raid in Central Java in August.

'We're sure Noordin is in Indonesia, basically in Java,' Mr Mbai said. 'Even sometimes he has gone out of Java but he always comes back. Basically there are groups in Java that support him... his favourite place is Central Java.'

Noordin, 41, who heads a violent splinter faction of the radical Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) network, is suspected of being behind July 17 double suicide attacks on Jakarta's JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels. The bombings, which killed seven people including six foreigners, were the first attack in Indonesia in nearly four years.

Noordin allegedly also masterminded a 2003 attack on the Marriott that killed 12 people, as well as the 2004 bombing of the Australian embassy and 2005 attacks on tourist restaurants on the holiday island of Bali.

Police believe they narrowly missed Noordin in a dramatic televised raid in August on a safehouse in Temanggung, Central Java.

Noordin was initially reported dead at the end of the 17-hour siege but the body later turned out to be that of a florist working in the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotel complex who helped plot the attacks from the inside.

Mr Mbai said Noordin's apparent escape - one of a series after years on the run - showed there were holes in Indonesia's anti-terror fight.

'I'm disappointed with the less vigilant (approach of authorities),' he said.
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2009-09-02 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] A RADICAL Indonesian publisher said to be a former member of Al-Qaeda has been declared a suspect in July's deadly luxury hotel bombings in the capital Jakarta, national police said on Tuesday.

Publisher and blogger Mohammed Jibril Abdurahman, who went by the online moniker 'Prince of Jihad", was officially declared a suspect following his arrest a week ago, police spokesman Nanan Soekarna told reporters.

The move allows police to keep him in custody pending possible charges.

'He is alleged to have been involved in terrorism, specifically financing and other offences, including using a false identity. The details of his involvement will all be explained at an appropriate time,' Mr Soekarna said.

Mohammed Jibril, 24, could face charges of conspiracy and aiding terrorism as well as immigration violations and falsifying documents, he said.

Police have said Mohammed Jibril channelled money from abroad to fund the two July 17 suicide bombings, which killed seven people and two bombers in Jakarta's J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels.

Police have not said where the money has come from, but are investigating whether it came from Al-Qaeda money men in the Middle East or South Asia.

The July 17 attacks, the first of their kind in Indonesia in nearly four years, are the suspected work of Malaysian terror mastermind Noordin Mohammed Top, 41, who leads a violent splinter group of the Jemaah Islamiyah network.

Noordin was allegedly behind a 2003 attack on the Marriott that killed 12 people, as well as the bombing of the Australian embassy in 2004 and tourist restaurants on the holiday island of Bali in 2005.

Police say they have killed three members of Noordin's group, 'Al-Qaeda in the Malaysia Archipelago", and arrested five since July 17, including a Saudi national who allegedly helped bring in foreign money for the attacks.
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2009-08-28 Southeast Asia
[Al Arabiya Latest] Indonesian police Thursday were pursuing an al-Qaeda connection to the twin suicide attacks on Jakarta hotels, after confirming that a suspect in custody had been a follower of Osama bin Laden.

National Police Chief Bambang Hendarso Danuri said the suspect, Indonesian publisher and Islamist blogger Mohammed Jibril Abdurahman -- known on the Internet as the "Prince of Jihad" -- was once a member of al-Qaeda.

Mohammed Jibril was arrested outside Jakarta late Tuesday on suspicion of channeling money from abroad to finance the July 17 attacks on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels, which killed nine people including the two bombers.

" Let the process proceed, there will be more developments "
Indonesian National Police Chief Bambang Danuri
The blasts marked the bloody end of a four-year hiatus in such attacks in the world's most populous Muslim country, and have been blamed on a terror network led by Malaysian extremist Noor Eddin Mohammed Top.

Asked by reporters whether Mohammed Jibril had been a member of al-Qaeda, Danuri said "yes." "Let the process proceed, there will be more developments," he said, without elaborating.

Most wanted extremist
Noor Eddin, 41, is the most wanted extremist in Indonesia and calls his group "al-Qaeda in the Malay Archipelago."

He allegedly received al-Qaeda backing for an attack on the Marriott in 2003 which killed 12 people, and is also accused of masterminding attacks on the Australian embassy in 2004 and tourist restaurants in Bali in 2005.

Police say they have killed three cell members and arrested five since July 17 who allegedly smuggled money from abroad to pay for the operation.

The source of the funds is not known, but police said they are investigating whether the money came from al-Qaeda brokers in the Middle East or South Asia, among other possible donors.

Mohammed Jibril studied Islam in Karachi, southern Pakistan, where he joined an al-Qaeda-affiliated group known as al-Ghuraba.
Mohammed Jibril studied Islam in Karachi, southern Pakistan, where he joined an al-Qaeda-affiliated group known as al-Ghuraba, or The Foreigners, according to analysts such as the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG).

Al-Ghuraba was set up in 1999 by Hambali, the Indonesian alleged point-man for al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia who is in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay, analysts said.

It trained Southeast Asian members of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) regional terror network blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, and served as a conduit between JI and al-Qaeda.

" As a student there, anyone can join any organization such as al-Ghuraba -- it's not forbidden "
Irfan S. Awwas, spokesman of Jibril family
The August 2003 arrest of Hambali, seen as JI's operations chief, led to the breakup of al-Ghuraba but analysts said the Pakistan connection could have been re-established and used to finance the latest attack in Indonesia.

Hambali's younger brother and al-Ghuraba alumni Gun Rusman Gunawan was sentenced to four years' jail in Indonesia in 2004 for helping to finance the 2003 Marriott attack. He served only two years and is now free.

A spokesman for Mohammed Jibril's family, Irfan S. Awwas, rejected accusations the publisher had any role in the hotel attacks. "Do you think al-Ghuraba is a terrorist movement?" he asked reporters as he appeared with the suspect's father, radical cleric Abu Jibril, at the national police headquarters to demand Mohammed Jibril's release. "As a student there (in Pakistan), anyone can join any organization such as al-Ghuraba -- it's not forbidden."

Mohammed Jibril's publishing company, Ar-Rahmah, has sold al-Qaeda propaganda videos in Indonesia and last year launched Jihadmagz magazine, which glorifies global terror attacks.

His father was arrested in Malaysia in 2001 on suspicion of being a JI member. He was deported to Indonesia in 2003 but served only about five months in jail for using a forged passport.

He now runs a website, which also supports radical Islamist groups and spouts jihadist ideology.
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2009-08-26 Southeast Asia
THE owner of a radical Islamist website who calls himself the Prince of Jihad in his blog postings has been arrested in connection with the Jakarta hotel bombings.
Counter-terror squad officers arrested Muhamad Jibril Abdurahman, alias Muhamad Ricky Ardan bin Mohammad Iqbal, near Jakarta late yesterday and also raided the office of his website, Arrahmah.com, a police spokesman said.

Police believe the Pakistan-educated suspect helped channel funds from abroad to finance the July 17 twin suicide bombings on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels that killed nine people, including six foreigners.

The source of the funds is not known, but police have said they are investigating whether the money came from al-Qaeda brokers in the Middle East, among other possible donors.

Muhamad Jibril is well-known in Indonesian radical circles as a publicist of extremist material, and is the son of a firebrand Islamist cleric who has been linked in the past to the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) regional terror network.

In addition to the website, he edited a publication called Jihadmagz which espoused jihad or "holy war" against the West.

"He chose his jihad path through working in the media. He felt there were many Muslims who were being suppressed everywhere and there was a war of thoughts," Indonesian extremism analyst Noor Huda Ismail said.

Police said Muhamad Jibril was an accomplice of Saudi national Al Khalil Ali, who was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of smuggling money from abroad to pay for the attacks.

Muhamad Jibril, believed to be aged in his mid-20s, is the son of Indonesian cleric Abu Jibril who was arrested in Malaysia in 2001 on suspicion of being a senior JI member.

The father was deported to Indonesia where he served about five months in jail for using a forged passport. He now runs a website, Abujibriel.com, which also supports radical Islamist groups and spouts jihadist ideology.

"Jihad and terrorism are not something to be afraid of or avoided, because to cause terror to Allah's enemies is the instruction of Islam," said an article by the Prince of Jihad which appeared on both websites after the July 17 attacks.
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2009-08-25 Home Front: WoT
Stuff that won't get reported on the evening news. The relevant excerpt:
Detainee reporting has helped thwart a number of al-Qaeda plots to attack targets in the West and elsewhere. Not only have detainees reported on potential targets and techniques that al-Qaeda operational planners have considered but arrests also have disrupted attack plans in progress," the report said.

It describes how interrogations of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed yielded information about al-Qaeda's attempts to obtain anthrax and crash commercial airplanes into London's Heathrow Airport. It says that other detainees, when confronted with information learned from Mohammed, revealed more about the plots and members of al-Qaeda.

One of the documents on Mohammed titled "Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: Preeminent Source on al-Qaeda," noted that he was the most valuable source of information on the terror network. The report notes that the planner of 9/11 was forced to rethink second-wave attacks he envisioned after 9/11 because of increased security efforts in the United States. "KSM stated that he had planned a second wave of hijacking attacks even before September 2001 but shifted his aim from the United States to the United Kingdom because of the United States post-11 September security posture and the British government's strong support for Washington's global war on terror," the report noted.

The CIA report states that Mohammed "dramatically expanded our universe of knowledge on al-Qaeda plots … [and] leads that assisted directly in the capture of other terrorists including Jemaah Islamiyah leader Hambali."

The report on detainee information says that information learned from interrogations of al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah revealed plots against "targets abroad and in the United States – including the White House and other U.S. symbols."

Zubaydah was the first senior member of the group to be captured in March of 2002.

The report describes gaining "invaluable insights" into "al-Qaeda's current organization, the personalities of its key members, and al-Qaeda's decision-making process. His reporting has contributed to our understanding of the enemy, how al-Qaeda members interact with each other, how they are organized, and what their personal networks are like."

The report describes how intelligence from detainees revealed al-Qaeda's inner workings, including its hierarchy and financing. "Detainees have been particularly useful in sorting out the large volumes of documents and computer data seized in raids," one section said. It later describes how one tip from an interrogation was able to pry open other sources to reveal more information.
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2009-08-19 Southeast Asia
[ADN Kronos] Indonesia's most wanted terrorist, Noordin M. Top, and his Islamist group, Jemaah Islamiyah, have recruited and trained nearly 450 members for bombing operations since 2000, according to senior police.

National police spokesman Insp. Gen. Nanan Soekarna said that Noordin and JI, believed to be the regional arm of global terrorist network Al-Qaeda, had provided training in bomb manufacture, weapons handling, combat skills, recruitment techniques and suicide bombing to new recruits from across the archipelago.

"We can base these figures from [information provided by] members we have arrested and from those who have served time in jail. We have arrested and brought many of them to trial, while we continue trying to track down others," he said.

Nanan said programs to rehabilitate and monitor convicted terrorists were weak.

He said since around 200 had been released from prison since 2002, authorities were afraid that many would rejoin their former terror networks and radical sympathisers.

Nanan said links between suspects thought responsible for the 2004 Australian Embassy attack and the recent J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotel bombings was testament to how the legal system had failed to deter future terrorist activity.

Air Setiawan and Eko Joko Sarjono, suspects in the 2004 bombing, blew themselves up in last month's attacks in Jakarta that left nine dead and more than 50 injured.

The fact that both these bombers were teenagers also showed that extremists were able to appeal to young Muslims and convince them to commit mass murder, he said.

Nanan said JI was able to draw on hundreds of potential supporters due to ongoing conflicts in Poso and Ambon.

A number of intelligence experts claim the terrorist network is still receiving significant funding from both local and international donors.

"They [donors] keep sending large amounts of money to the country, most of which is unfortunately sent via courier and thus very difficult to trace and stop," Mardigu, a terrorist expert, said in Jakarta on Monday.

Usually the couriers enter the country through Dumai and Batam, he said, both regions located within a half hour of Singapore and Malaysia.

Head of Indonesia's Centre of Financial Transaction Report and Analysis (PPATK), Yunus Husein, said his office had detected at least 68 financial transactions that were allegedly related to terrorist activities between 2004 and 2009.

"We have handed over that record to the police," he said.

Syaefudin Jailani, a key police target, reportedly received several payments prior to the 17 July bombings from someone in Yemen through his neighbour's account.

Nanan Soekarna said now the police were working hard to sever the flow of funds to terrorists within Indonesia.
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2009-08-16 Terror Networks
Nur Azlin Mohamed Yasin spends several hours a day trawling the Internet, but she is not your typical young surfer, descending into a world of bomb-making, militancy and extremism.

From her computer, she enters a world where young Muslims openly volunteer to fight against US-led coalition troops in Afghanistan or learn how to make explosives out of everyday materials. The 24-year-old Singaporean research analyst is constantly on the lookout for attack manuals, video clips of Islamist militants in training and fiery extremist chatter that could hint at an imminent assault somewhere. "This whole thing is worrying," she told AFP in an interview, referring to a growing trend of individuals imbibing radical ideas online.

Nur Azlin is one of five research analysts at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies who monitor extremist websites daily to get a sense of an emerging battleground in the fight against terrorism. All of them happen to be women and their collective skills include knowledge of Arabic, Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia -- and geopolitical issues. "After you sit down, think about it and do a trend analysis, you say 'Oh my God! this is really happening,'" said Nur Azlin, who works for the school's International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research. "You can see the radicalisation process unfold online."

There are an estimated 5,500-6,000 websites worldwide peddling extremist ideas, according to the researchers, who work from a spartan office in a suburban university campus. Nur Azlin is tasked to monitor and analyse websites in Southeast Asia, a region that hosts notorious organisations such as the Jemaah Islamiyah movement and the Abu Sayyaf group operating in the southern Philippines. She estimates that there are around 192 extremist websites in the region, many of them individual blogs which have mushroomed since early 2008 when Internet blogging became popular.

Singapore, a staunch US ally and international finance centre, considers itself a prime target for terrorist attacks like last month's deadly hotel bombings in Jakarta aimed at symbols of Western influence. Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng has warned that "self-radicalised" individuals have emerged as a new security threat. In 2007, Singapore announced the arrest of five suspected Islamic militants, among them local law lecturer Abdul Basheer Abdul Kader, who allegedly planned to pursue "jihad" in Afghanistan after getting radical ideas from the Internet.

When analyst Nur Azlin started monitoring the websites in early 2007, most of the content was in the form of articles urging Muslims to fight back against perceived oppression, she recalled. They were usually accompanied by photos like a child allegedly maimed during an attack by coalition forces in Afghanistan or by Israeli troops in Palestine.

In late 2007, computer hacking manuals started to appear on Southeast Asian websites, uploaded by individuals in online forums, she said. Forum participants, some of whom identified themselves as undergraduate students from Indonesia and Malaysia, urged each other to hack websites they considered to be promoting liberal Muslim views.

"By early 2008, we started to see bomb-making manuals and bomb-making videos," Nur Azlin recalled. With the appearance of these manuals -- taken from Arabic websites -- the reaction from forum participants got more virulent, as they goaded each other to take action rather than stay passive supporters or sympathisers, she said.

In one of the exhanges, participants tried to organise arms training but some said they did not have money to buy AK-47 assault rifles, Nur Azlin said. A group called "Indonesian Airsoft Mujahideen" stepped in and offered to facilitate their training using air rifles and paintball machines, which are widely used for play sessions at corporate training seminars in Asia. "They would rent the place much like a team-building activity," Nur Azlin said. "They used this training in the meantime that they don't have their AK-47s."

Jolene Jerard, 26, a manager at the centre, said the analysts compile a monthly report about their findings. The extremist videos they download -- now in high definition and professionally taken compared with the grainy amateurish clips of the past -- are put into a database, one of the biggest collections in Southeast Asia.

The centre shares its findings and analyses with the relevant government authorities and foreign diplomats visit the school for briefings. "The cyberdomain is an area where governments have been gradually moving into," Jerard said. "It's a changing threat landscape. I think it is increasingly becoming important and governments are definitely enthusiastic about countering it and putting enough resources in place."
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2009-08-12 Southeast Asia
Noordin M Top has certainly lived by the sword, so it would have been fitting if he had met his demise amid a hail of bullets and bomb explosions inside a farmhouse in Central Java over the weekend.

It seems certain that the alleged mastermind of the July 17 twin suicide bombings in South Jakarta — as well as other attacks in the capital and on Bali — is still at large. Aside from his fanatical, extremist interpretations of Islam and willingness to kill scores of civilians in pursuit of his goals, Noordin is considered even more dangerous for his ability to recruit pawns to carry out attacks, in particular young suicide bombers.

It was likely his followers would attempt to carry on his work in the event he was captured or killed.

“His legend would rise. It would be a great recruiting tool,” said Ken Conboy, author of “Inside Jemaah Islamiyah, Asia’s Most Dangerous Terrorist Network.”

Tracking down and rolling up Noordin’s network — and the man himself given that DNA tests are expected to come back negative — is the job of Detachment 88, the National Police counter-terrorism unit. But analysts say the central government must take a long-term view of the country’s terrorism problem and begin tackling it at its source.

Terrorism’s roots, they say, lie within the country’s Islamic boarding schools. According to Sidney Jones of the International Crisis Group, about 50 pesantrens are believed linked to Jemaah Islamiyah, the regional terrorist network of which Noordin was once a key member.

“The schools are still important, less for what they teach than for the connections made there,” said Jones, a JI expert. “It’s not so much ‘massive’ recruiting that’s the problem, but more that I would place the santri [orthodox Muslims] at these schools near the top of vulnerable populations for recruitment. And it only takes a visit by one extremist to bring a couple more on board.”

Indonesia has as many as 45,000 Islamic boarding schools, Jones said, but only about 15,000 are registered with the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Analysts have criticized the ministry for not overseeing the schools’ curriculums, which could be blinds for private study sessions for handpicked students with extremist teachers.

Despite the difficulties the government would have intervening in Islamic schools, Nasaruddin Umar, the Religious Affairs Ministry’s director general for mass guidance on Islam, said expanded oversight was inevitable. “We have to control the curriculums of all the pesantrens. I have found many, many problems,” he said.
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2009-07-30 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] AN INTERNET blog purportedly speaking on behalf of a group calling itself 'Al-Qaeda Organisation Indonesia' has claimed responsibility for the July 17 Jakarta hotel bombings.

The entry was posted on the Google site blogspot.com on Sunday but was only discovered Wednesday and reported in the Indonesian media.

The message in Indonesian and Arabic was signed by 'Abu Muawwidz Nur Din bin Muhammad Top' and praises two 'holy warrior brothers' who blew themselves up at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in central Jakarta.

The statement said the attacks were a 'martyrdom operation for jihad' intended as 'retribution for the deeds of America and its agents against our Muslim brothers and holy warriors in all corners of the world'. It described the victims of the attack as 'henchmen of America' and 'thieves and robbers of things of value to the Muslims of this country'.

Two suicide bombers killed seven people including six foreigners in the coordinated blasts at the adjacent luxury hotels. Police have said the attacks bear the hallmarks of Malaysian Islamist Noordin Mohammed Top, who heads a violent splinter faction of the radical regional network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

Noordin is suspected of masterminding suicide bombings in Indonesia in 2003, 2004 and 2005 which killed a total of 42 people and injured scores more.

Indonesian police spokesman Sulistyo Ishak said investigators were still examining if the claim of responsibility was genuine or a hoax.

'We will confirm with the investigation team. It's for them to investigate if it's true that this (attack) was carried out by this group,' he told AFP.

Terrorism analyst Sidney Jones, of the International Crisis Group, said she could not say whether the claim was authentic but noted that blogs were 'often used by some of the jihadi groups'.

'I just don't know. It's interesting this time round, if it is him, he's only claiming to be Al-Qaeda for Indonesia and not the Malay Archipelago,' she said.
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2009-07-30 Southeast Asia
Militants evaded crackdown that hurt group by seeking havens, recruits among sympathetic Islamists
I left out the introduction. You know the story.
In 2006, according to police documents, an emissary of Mr. Noordin known as Syaifuddin Zuhri, but who used the alias Sabit, arrived at a small Islamic school called al Furqon, about four hours' drive south of Palembang. His mission: To exhort a nonviolent study group of about 10 people concerned about Christian conversions of local Muslims to consider attacks on Western targets. Mr. Sabit, who had fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s, knew the founder of the religious school, a Jemaah Islamiyah member and Afghan veteran called Ani Sugandi, and had helped him recruit hard-line teachers, according to police testimony viewed by The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Sugandi later told police he had refused requests to join in the violence, but sheltered Mr. Sabit and allowed him to give a sermon to the group.

In the sermon, Mr. Sabit claimed he had direct links to Osama bin Laden and urged the members to launch a jihad against America and its allies, according to the testimony of Abdurrahman Taib, a leading member of the study group. The following year, Mr. Sabit told Mr. Taib that he had been sent by Mr. Noordin, the police files show. Mr. Sabit introduced Mr. Taib to a master bomb maker, who later trained others in the group, and supplied him with a loaded revolver and 11 spare bullets to be used in attacks on "infidels," Mr. Taib said in trial testimony.

Members of the group went on, in 2007, to shoot dead a Christian schoolteacher in Palembang who had persuaded his Muslim female students not to wear their veils. The members also built bombs and planned to attack tourist cafes in a Sumatran hill resort popular with backpackers, according to testimony. The group called off the attacks at the last minute because they didn't want to also kill Indonesian Muslims. When the group was broken up last year, after police followed leads from arrested Jemaah Islamiyah members, Those arrested included Mr. Sugandi, the head of the religious school -- which is now shuttered -- and a 35-year-old Singaporean known as Fajar Taslim, who had helped radicalize the group and was wanted in Singapore for a foiled attempt to attack Western targets there in 2001.

Six suspects picked up had no previous known connection to Jemaah Islamiyah or any other violent group, suggesting Mr. Noordin's network was able to successfully radicalize people. Eight members of the group confessed and were convicted of the teacher's murder and of planning attacks, and received prison sentences of between 10 and 18 years. Mr. Sugandi was given a five-year sentence for harboring terrorists, and his school shut down. Mr. Sabit wasn't captured.

In Indonesia, a secular nation of 240 million people with thousands of moderate Islamist academies, there are about 50 radical Islamic schools opened by alleged members of Jemaah Islamiyah. Sidney Jones, an expert on Southeast Asian terrorist networks at the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, a peace-advocacy body, says the school heads -- who want to see the establishment of an Islamic state and are highly distrustful of Indonesia's secular government and police -- often allow known terrorists to stay with them as long as they promise not to engage in acts of violence while there. "You can be at any one of these schools and link in to Noordin" or his associates, says Ms. Jones, who first outlined the story of the Palembang group in a report last May.

Heri Purwanto, a 25-year-old who was in the Palembang study group and made a living hawking prepaid cards for mobile phones, was guarding the group's bombs in a derelict house in the city when police arrested him. His mother, Purwati, who lives in a run-down wooden house at the end of a narrow maze of alleys in a poor part of the city, contends her son was never a radical Muslim and is at a loss to explain his involvement. Ms. Purwati says she complained to guards at her son's Jakarta prison that he was sharing a cell with Mr. Taslim, the Singaporean, and could become further radicalized.

Some members of the study group, who police have been unable to prove were involved in the attacks, have remained free. A lawyer for one of them, Oloan Martua Harahap, who owned an Internet cafe used by the group for meetings but claims not to be have known of the plans for the shooting or planned bombings, says those arrested had became more radical through contact with Mr. Sabit and others. "They were saying jihad must be conducted now and the enemy is Capitalism," says Bahrul Ilmi Yakup, the lawyer.

Mr. Sabit was arrested in June in Cilacap, a town in Central Java where police now say they believe the Jakarta attacks were planned. Just a few days before the bombings, police raided an Islamic school in Cilacap run by a man who is the father-in-law of Mr. Noordin and a relative of Mr. Sabit, uncovering bomb making material. The material was similar to an unexploded bomb found later at the JW Marriott. Authorities have since detained a woman believed to be Mr. Noordin's wife. Her father, who ran the school, and Mr. Noordin remain on the run.
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2009-07-29 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] A WOMAN arrested by Indonesian police in connection with July 17 hotel bombings in Jakarta has identified her husband as terror suspect Noordin Mohammed Top, her lawyer said on Tuesday.

Arina Rahmah, 25, is being held as a witness along with her mother, Dwi Astuti, and two children aged one and two years, following the attacks which killed seven people and two bombers, lawyer Asludin Hatjani told AFP. 'The police showed her photos of Noordin Top and she told them they resembled her husband, Abdul Halim,' he said. 'She said the last time she saw him was in March this year.'
"That wuz when he run off widdat floozie!"
Police are hoping the housewife from rural Java will provide crucial information about the habits and movements of her husband, one of Asia's most wanted fugitives who is blamed for a string of bombings in Indonesia.

Police believe his network may be behind the twin suicide blasts on the JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta earlier this month, although no group has claimed responsibility.

Malaysian-born Noordin allegedly masterminded a suicide truck bombing at the Marriott in 2003, as well as the 2004 suicide bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta and 2005 suicide attacks on restaurants in Bali. Those attacks killed 42 people, mainly Indonesians, injured hundreds and triggered the biggest manhunt in Indonesian history.

He is believed to lead a splinter group of the Jemaah Islamiyah Islamist network responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people, mainly Western tourists.
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2009-07-24 Southeast Asia
[Al Arabiya Latest] Indonesian police released digital images Wednesday of the reconstructed faces of two suspected suicide bombers thought to have attacked luxury hotels in Jakarta last week, killing seven people.

Police said the suspected bomber who killed six people including five foreigners at the JW Marriott was aged only 16 to 17 years old, while the man suspected of carrying out the Ritz-Carlton attack was aged from 20 to 40 years.

The images are being shown to witnesses as part of the investigation into Friday's attacks on the luxury hotels in central Jakarta, the first major terror attack in Indonesia since 2005.

The images were based on two severed heads found at the blast sites which are believed to be those of the bombers, suspected members of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional extremist network or one of its offshoots.

"We found two severed heads on location and we can confirm that they are the suspected suicide bombers," police spokesman Nanan Soekarna told a press conference.

The men had short hair and looked Asian in appearance. The Marriott bomber was described as being 16 to 17 years old, fair-skinned and 180-190 centimeters (5'9"-6'3") tall.

The Ritz-Carlton bomber was a chubby-faced, dark-skinned man, who police said was between 20 and 40 and was about 165 cm in height, with short, straight black hair.

Negative DNA results
However as police struggled to identify the bombers, Soekarna said DNA tests on the families of two men suspected of carrying out the attacks, named as Ibrahim and Nur Hasbi, had returned negative results. "The DNA of the families have not matched the body parts that we have found," Soekarna said.

"Concerning Ibrahim, we've done a DNA test and it's not identical. Also (this is the case) for Nur Hasbi," he said.

He said the sketches also did not match Ibrahim or Nur Hasbi, also known as Nur Said, who is a reported associate of alleged terror mastermind Noordin Mohammed Top.

But police did not explicitly rule out either man as suspects in the wider investigation into the attacks, which have rattled the foreign business and diplomatic community in Indonesia.

Jemaah Islamiyah splinter group
Indonesian counter-terrorist police commandos secure the Ritz-CarltonSenior counterterrorism officials and police have said the attacks look very much like the work of Noordin, the Malaysian-born leader of a Jemaah Islamiyah splinter group.

The bombers checked in to the Marriott as paying guests on July 15 and assembled the bombs in room 1808 on the 18th floor, according to police. A third bomb, found in a laptop computer bag, was defused.

The victims at the Marriott were attending a weekly meeting of some of Indonesia's most prominent foreign business executives in a room
to the side of the main lobby.

A police source told Reuters on Monday that one theory the police are working on is that the bombers planned to detonate the bomb on the 18th floor first, sending panicking guests rushing down to the lobby where one of the suicide bombers would detonate a second bomb, potentially killing and injuring many more guests.
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2009-07-21 Southeast Asia
Indonesian police have questioned teachers of an Islamic boarding school in Central Java, following the suicide bombings in Jakarta last week, a cleric said on Tuesday.

As coordinator of Islamic activity in the area, cleric Mudzakir confirmed the probe in the Al-Mukmin Ngruki boarding school. "Three policemen came to the Ngruki boarding school asking teachers and staff members," he told Xinhua over phone from the area.

One of the suspect of the bombing at the JW Marriot Hotel is Nurhasbi alias, who had been studying in the school along with suicide bombers of the hotel in August 2003, which killed 12 people and wounded dozens others, according to local television. "The police come to match up information that they got," said cleric Mudzakir.

The Ngruki boarding school was founded by militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, the spiritual head of Jemaah Islamiyah>Jemaah Islamiyah who has been jailed for a conspiracy on terrorism.
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2009-07-19 Southeast Asia
Indonesian police have recovered a laptop that they believe belonged to one of the bombers of Friday's twin hotel attacks in Jakarta, the country's official news agency said Sunday. The laptop contained information and codes that the attackers may have used to communicate with each other, the state-run Antara News Agency said. The computer was found in a room at the Ritz Carlton, one of two hotels targeted Friday. The other site was the JW Marriott.

The blasts killed nine people -- including at least two presumed suicide bombers -- and wounded more than 50.

Anti-terrorism officials are investigating the links between the attacks and Noordin M. Top, the suspected leader of a small Jemaah Islamiyah splinter group. The group has ties to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network, but so far there has been no claim of responsibility for the latest attack. Top is reportedly an officer, recruiter, bomb-maker, and trainer for the group, which was involved in a previous attack on the Marriott -- in August 2003 -- as well as attacks on a Bali nightclub in 2003 and the Australian embassy in Jakarta in 2004, according to the FBI.

Among the victims who have been identified by Indonesia's health ministry, two were Australian, and one each from New Zealand, Singapore and Indonesia.
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2009-07-17 Southeast Asia
Mods, if this has already been posted and is in the holding tank for Friday, please delete.
You posted the most complete report, Barbara. Well done!
JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Bombs have exploded at the Ritz-Carlton and Marriott hotels in the Indonesian capital on Friday, ripping the facade off the Ritz.

Police say at least 4 foreigners were killed.

Debris and shattered glass littered the street outside the neighboring hotels in an upscale Jakarta neighborhood. Ambulances were being shuttled into the area.

A man jogging by the hotels said he first heard a loud explosion at the Marriott. Five minutes later, a bomb followed at the Ritz. Alex Asmasubrata said he saw four bodies inside the Marriott. One had its stomach blown out. An Associated Press reporter saw three injured taken away from the Ritz.

Police, however, would only confirm four people were injured.

The Marriott hotel was attacked in 2003, when 12 died. Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah was blamed in that blast.

Update at the Jerusalem Post:
Updated Jul 17, 2009 7:22 (Jerusalem time)

Nine people were killed and at least 50 were wounded after two powerful bombs exploded at a pair of luxury hotels in an upscale Jakarta business district Friday, Indonesian officials said.

The police operational chief Arief Wahyunadi said the bombs were planted in the Ritz-Carlton's Air Langga restaurant and the basement of the Marriott, which was attacked in 2003. Twelve people died in that assault, which was blamed on Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah.

The Manchester United football team was scheduled to stay at the Ritz on Saturday and Sunday nights for a friendly match against the Indonesian All Stars, the Indonesian Football association said.

Because of past attacks, most major hotels in Jakarta take security precautions, such as checking incoming vehicles and requiring visitors to pass through metal detectors.
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2009-07-04 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] MALAYSIA has arrested three men who allegedly met a top Singaporean terror suspect in a bid to revive the activities of the regional militant network, Jemaah Islamiyah, a news report and a rights activist say.

Police arrested the suspects in southern Johor state on June 25 under the Internal Security Act, which allows for indefinite detention without trial, said Nalini Elumalai, a representative of the Movement to Abolish the ISA.

The Star newspaper, quoting unidentified officials familiar with the investigation, said the three Malaysians were believed to have met with Mas Selamat Kastari, Jemaah Islamiyah's alleged former Singapore commander, who was also arrested in Johor on April 1.

Mas Selamat, a Singaporean citizen of Indonesian origin, is alleged to have plotted to hijack a plane and fly it into Singapore's international airport. He was caught by the Indonesian police in 2006 and handed over to Singapore.

The three detained were believed to be ordinary members of Jemaah Islamiyah who were attempting to revive the group's operations in Malaysia, the report said.

Malaysia has arrested dozens of Jemaah Islamiyah members over the past eight years. Authorities were investigating if the three men have recruited any new members recently, The Star's report added.

Malaysian Police Chief Musa Hassan declined to immediately comment, saying he was in a meeting. A Home Ministry official said he could not speak about the arrests.

Mas Selamat was arrested in Johor more than a year after he escaped from a high-security prison in neighbouring Singapore in February 2008 by wriggling out of a bathroom window.

Malaysia's government has said it will continue to hold Mas Selamat under the Internal Security Act to obtain more information about his activities.
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2009-06-25 Southeast Asia
[ADN Kronos] The largest mosque on the Indonesian island of Java has been blocked by local people who fear that radical Islamic militants including radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir have been using it to promote their teachings.

Indonesian media said that people in the city of Surabaya have blocked the entrance to the Al Ihsan Sabililla mosque for three days before agreeing to reopen it.

Bashir, one of the key leaders of the Al-Qaeda linked militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, is among those who have visited the mosque recently and gave several sermons.

JI is blamed for Indonesia's worst terror attack, the 2002 Bali bombings (photo) which killed 202 people, most of them foreigners.

The group, which wants to a single southeast Asian Muslim caliphate, is also believed to be responsible for several other attacks including the 2005 Bali bombing and the 2004 attack on the Australian embassy in Jakarta.

In his sermons, Bashir reportedly said Muslims who participate in state elections are 'infidels' and that the Indonesian state should not be recognised.

He was speaking ahead of Indonesia's forthcoming presidential elections taking place next month.

Local Indonesian newspaper, The Jakarta Globe, said the son of the mosque's director, Saifudin, who was jailed for having assisted in the Bali terrorist attack in 2002, was recently released.
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2009-06-12 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] A FILIPINO bomb expert from the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) group, who is thought to have carried out a deadly attack on Manila in 2000 was arrested Thursday in the southern Philippines, police said. Ansar Venancio, described by the government as 'a high value target' was arrested by government intelligence agents in Marawi city, the Islamic heartland of southern Mindanao island, police said.

A statement said Venancio was involved in the December 30, 2000 bombing of a commuter train in Manila that killed 22 people, as well as the 2003 attack on an international airport in southern Davao city, which left 21 people dead.

'His capture in Marawi city is a big blow to the... JI in Mindanao,' the police statement said.

'The arrested JI member was believed to be conducting terroristic training in the areas of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte when arrested,' it said, referring to two Mindanao provinces.

The Indonesia-based JI is blamed for the 2002 nightclub bombings in Bali that killed 202 people, many of whom were tourists.

Dozens of JI foreign militants are believed to be hiding out in Mindanao island with the help of homegrown Islamic armed groups, including the 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the smaller Abu Sayyaf.
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2009-05-08 Southeast Asia
SINGAPORE: Details of the capture of Singapore's fugitive Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) leader Mas Selamat Kastari on April 1 in Johor Bahru have emerged as both the Singapore and Malaysian governments confirm his arrest. In a statement on Friday, Singapore's Home Affairs Ministry said: "Mas Selamat has been arrested by the Malaysian Special Branch (MSB) in a joint operation between the MSB and the Internal Security Department (ISD)." Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng said Singapore is happy that Mas Selamat has been arrested. Mr Wong added that the public was not informed earlier of the capture so as not to compromise operations and jeopardise sources of information.

Singapore's Internal Security Department (ISD) had worked hard and looked at every lead, sharing information with its Malaysian counterpart. Mr Wong also said that the MSB had done excellent work. "Between ISD and MSB, there is a long standing cooperative cordial relationship and as a result of this kind of relationship, we are able to keep each of our countries safe and also contribute to the safety and security of the region," said Mr Wong. For now, the JI leader will remain in Malaysia as the authorities there want to continue interviewing him.

When asked why the public could not be informed earlier, Mr Wong explained that there is a need for operational secrecy. He added that Malaysia wanted to investigate what other terrorist networks were up to. The deputy prime minister said Singaporeans must maintain vigilance and not let their guard down following Mas Selamat's arrest as the terror threat is real and Singapore is a prime target. With Singapore's long coastline, Mr Wong said Singaporeans must not assume the country is safe as there are other JI members who have not been detained.

He said: "Singapore is a small country. It has a long coastline, it is porous, and it is easy for people and goods to be brought in or even leave Singapore. So you should not assume just by the arrest of one person, Singapore will be safe from terrorists’ threat."

Mr Wong said Mas Selamat will be sent to the Whitley Road Detention Centre again when he is brought back to Singapore. He added that the centre is now a different place compared to what it was when the JI leader escaped on February 27 last year. He also revealed that Mas Selamat had swam across the Straits of Johor using an improvised flotation device to escape from the north shore of Singapore in February last year.

Separately, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry S Iswaran said the arrest of Mas Salamat is a welcome piece of news to Singaporeans. He said the JI leader's arrest speaks highly of security forces involved in the operation.
"It's a tribute to the professionalism of the intelligence agencies. They worked across borders with their partners to secure his eventual arrest."
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2009-04-29 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] A SOUTH-EAST Asian terrorist who admitted to meeting Osama bin Laden many times was sentenced to 18 years in jail on Tuesday for killing an Indonesian teacher and plotting an attack on a bar frequented by non-Muslims.

Mohammad Hasan bin Saynudin, a 36-year-old Singaporean, was defiant as he was led into the South Jakarta District Court, saying he was proud of his actions and ready for whatever punishment was handed down.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has been hit by a string of terrorist attacks in recent years blamed on South-East Asian militant network Jemaah Islamiyah>Jemaah Islamiyah - formerly funded by al-Qaeda. More than 240 people have been killed, many of them foreign tourists.

Saynudin - arrested with nine other Islamic militants and a cache of weapons on Sumatra island in July 2008 - admitted to many crimes during his trial, including helping mastermind a foiled plot to hijack a Russian Aeroflot plane and crash it into the terminal at Singapore's international airport in 2001.

However, the case that wrapped up on Tuesday focused only on crimes committed in Indonesia.

Judge Haswandi said Saynudin was guilty of orchestrating the fatal shooting of a teacher in front of the man's 9-year-old son in 2007 and trying to kill two Catholic priests in 2005. He was also found guilty of planning an attack on a bar on Sumatra that was called off at the last minute - apparently after the men realized it might unintentionally kill Muslims.

Saynudin violated the country's anti-terrorism laws and possession of illegal weapons, Haswandi said, in handing down the sentence.

The Singaporean told reporters he considered himself a 'Muslim hero.' 'I met Osama bin Laden countless times,' he said, calling the al-Qaeda chief 'the savior of the Muslim world.'
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2009-04-25 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] AN ISLAMIC extremist accused of murdering a Christian professor in 2004 has been arrested in Indonesia, police said on Friday. Spokesman Abubakar Nataprawira said the suspect, Amirullah, was a member of a terrorist organisation but he would not confirm reports he was affiliated to the Jemaah Islamiyah regional militant network.

'Amirullah, also known as Kana, 30, was nabbed on Monday in South Sulawesi.

He is a fugitive wanted by Central Sulawesi police,' Nataprawira said.

He allegedly shot dead a professor of Sintuwu Maroso university in Poso, in Central Sulawesi, with a revolver.

Jemaah Islamiyah veterans who fought in Afghanistan and the southern Philippines are suspected of recruiting and training extremists in Central Sulawesi province.

Fighting between Muslims and Christians in Poso and surrounding districts claimed about 1,000 lives in 2000-2001.
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2009-04-22 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] AN INDONESIAN court jailed four Al-Qaeda inspired Islamic extemists convicted of terrorism on Tuesday. Abdul Rahman Taib and Ki Agus Mohammad Tony received 12 years each for preparing bombs to attack a cafe frequented by Western backpackers in Sumatra and for killing Christian teacher Dago Simamora in 2007.

They were also convicted of conspiring to attack other Christians and foreigners in the name of jihad or 'holy war' against the West.

'Ki Agus Mohammad Tony was the one who shot dead Dago Simamora when he was on a motorcyle with his little children,' chief judge Syamsuddin told South Jakarta district court.

'Both defendants were involved in acquiring and assembling five tupperware bombs and 15 PVC bombs to launch an attack on a cafe in Bukittinggi,' he said, referring to the foiled attack in West Sumatra.

The plot to bomb the cafe on Sumatra island in 2006 was aborted due to fears it would cause Muslim casualties, according to the militants.

In a separate trial, Islamic extremists Anis Sugandi and Sukarso were convicted and jailed for five and four years respectively for hiding information about a fugitive terror suspect.

The four men were arrested last year in Palembang, South Sumatra, with six other militants including Singaporean national Mohammad Hasan bin Saynudin, who is on trial separately.

The Singaporean has publicly confessed to forming and leading a terrorist cell with the intention of killing non-Muslims. He claims he was inspired to jihad after meeting Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in 2000.

The court is expected to announce a verdict in his case next week. Three other members of the cell, linked to the regional Jemaah Islamiyah terror movement, were sentenced to 12 years in prison by the same court last week.
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2009-04-17 Southeast Asia
[ADN Kronos] The Philippines government has involved two Muslim clerics in negotiations to release two European Red Cross workers being held by Al-Qaeda linked Muslim militants on the southern island of Jolo in Sulu province.

Sulu's governor Abdusakur Tan said Muslim clerics are now helping in efforts to convince the bandits from Muslim militant group Abu Sayyaf to free Swiss national Andreas Notter and Italian Eugenio Vagni.

Notter and Vagni were seized January 15 along with Filipino aid worker Mary Jean Lacaba. Lacaba was released on 2 April after intense negotiations. Vagni, in his sixties, is reported to have health problems.

Tan said the government had enlisted the help of the Muslim clerics as a "last-ditch" effort to secure Vagni and Notter's safe release.

Also on Wednesday, interior secretary Ronaldo Puno and the head of the Philippines police, Jesus Verzosa, arrived in Sulu and met with Tan to discuss the progress of the negotiations, said Sonny Abing III, the provincial government spokesman, quoted by private TV channel GMA News.

The Abu Sayyaf bandits have repeatedly threatened to kill the remaining hostages if security forces do not pull back from several Jolo villages and the town of Parang. Security forces have surrounded the jungle lair of Indanan town to prevent the terrorists from escaping with their captives.

Authorities have rejected Abu Sayyaf's demand, and have vowed to ensure the two Red Cross workers are released unharmed.

Hundreds of armed village guards under the supervision of police and local mayors also put up a cordon around the Abu Sayyaf stronghold, GMA News reported.

The network quoted military and police intelligence reports as saying the kidnappers include several suspects alleged to belong to the Al-Qaeda linked Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network.

The suspects were said to include Mauiya, Dulmatin, Zulkifli bin Hir and Umar Patek. All are wanted by Indonesia for the spate of deadly attacks there, including the Bali nightclub bombing in 2002 which killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

The US has offered rewards of at least 16 million dollars for their capture.

The Philippines army said suspected rogue elements from the Muslim separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front on Monday beheaded one of two Filipino Christian hostages captured last week in the province of Basilan in the Sulu Archipelago.
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2009-04-08 Southeast Asia
[Straits Times] AN INDONESIAN court on Tuesday found three Islamist militants of the radical Jemaah Islamiyah movement guilty on terror charges and sentenced them to 12 years in prison. The three men - Agustyawarman, Heri Purwanto and Sugianto - were found guilty of conspiring and committing acts of terror as part of an alleged 10-member JI cell arrested in Palembang, South Sumatra, last year.

The men were found guilty of involvement in largely separate plots but were given equal sentences for an 'evil consensus', head judge Aswan Nurcahyo told the South Jakarta district court. The judges found Purwanto guilty of involvement in the 2007 murder of Christian teacher Dago Simamora as well as an attack on Christian priest Yosua Winardi with a hammer.

Both Purwanto and Agustyawarman were found to have plotted attacks on other priests. Agustyawarman was also found to have been involved in a plan to bomb a backpacker cafe on Sumatra island in 2006 which was aborted on fears of Muslim casualties.

'The factor aggravating the defendants' sentences is the fact they have never shown remorse for what they did. All their actions were done consciously,' Judge Nurcahyo said.

The three men yelled 'Allahu akbar' (God is greater) as their sentences were read out.

'From the start, I haven't cared if the sentence is harsh or light,' Agustyawarman said after the trial.

Their lawyer said the men were contemplating an appeal.

Singaporean Mohammad Hasan bin Saynudin, the self-confessed leader of the cell, is on trial on separate charges and has told the court he had met Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and planned to bomb Singapore's Changi airport. Hasan is set to be sentenced on April 21.
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2009-04-05 Southeast Asia
Malaysia on Sunday freed 13 people detained under controversial security laws, police said, after new Prime Minister Najib Razak ordered their release.

Najib was sworn in on Friday and announced in his maiden speech that he was revoking a ban on two newspapers and releasing 13 people held under the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows for indefinite detention without trial. "All 13 are released today, they will be placed under police supervision," police chief Musa Hassan told AFP.

The 13 were greeted by family members and hundreds of supporters as they left the detention centre in northern Perak state where they were held, while riot police guarded the entrance. Najib had said their release was good for Malaysia, and denied it was a bid to win back support for the ruling party.

Among those freed were two ethnic Indian leaders, lawyers V. Ganabatirau and R. Kengadharan of the banned Hindraf group who were detained for mounting a rally alleging discrimination against minority ethnic Indians in December 2007. Three other Hindraf leaders remained in detention.

"This is the moment that the whole family is waiting for but I hope the new prime minister will hear the Indian community's plea to release the three others Hindraf leaders as well," Ganabatirau's brother, V. Papparaidu, told AFP. A. Kannappan, a 56-year-old businessman who managed to shake hands with the Hindraf duo outside the detention centre as they left, said they "look healthy and were smiling".

Of the others who were also freed, seven were believed to be members of the Darul Islam religious group and three were foreigners accused of falsifying government documents. The last was a suspected member of the Al-Qaeda linked Jemaah Islamiyah militant group.

Rights groups lauded the move, but urged the government to free the remaining 27 people, mainly suspected Islamic militants, held under the ISA or charge them in court. "There are people who have been held more than seven years without trial and most of them were facing the same kind of allegations as those who were released today," Abolish ISA Movement spokesman Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh told AFP.

The ISA, which dates back to the British colonial era when it was used against communist insurgents, has earned notoriety in recent years as critics accuse the government of using the law to silence its opponents.
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2009-03-16 Southeast Asia
A Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist on death row for the 2004 bombing of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta remains unrepentant about the deadly attack in a recently-released book, in which he states that jihad means killing those who don’t believe in Islam and says he will die a martyr. The book, a copy of which was obtained by the Jakarta Globe, is likely to anger the country’s security authorities, who are attempting to halt the circulation of books written by the three Bali bombers prior to their execution in November 2008, to prevent the spread of violent messages.

Rois Abu Syaukat, also known as Iman Darmawan, argues that the enemy of Islam depends on one’s beliefs, in the latest book, “What is Jihad?”

“Jihad is to wage war on the nonbeliever. It truly depends on Shariah [Islamic law],” he writes. “Jihad is not just [conducting missionary work] or building madrasahs,” he adds.

According to the International Crisis Group, Rois was recruited by Malaysian terrorist suspect Noordin M. Top and was in charge of logistics for the Sept. 9, 2004, truck bombing, which killed nine Indonesian security guards and motorists. Among Rios’s responsibilities were training the suicide bomber, Heri Golun, how to drive the Dai-hatsu delivery van and its one-ton load, and to monitor Heri’s state of mind in the moments before the attack. It has been reported that Australia’s role in supporting the United States during the invasion of Iraq was his motivation.

In his 224-page book, published by Jakarta-based publishers Pustaka Shotulhaq in January, Rois cites the Koran and Prophet Muhammad for justifying his actions, but during an exclusive interview with the Jakarta Globe from Cipinang Prison in Central Jakarta last Friday, he refused to elaborate on his role in the bombing. He has previously both confessed and denied involvement. “I don’t want to talk about it. Just read my book,” he said. He is appealing his sentence.

In the 224-page book, Rois writes that legitimate targets for jihad include nonbelievers, Muslims who abandon their beliefs, killing others for money, hypocrites, those who disobey Islamic law and despotic governments. For this reason, he wrote, the bombing of the Australian Embassy was justified.
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2009-03-12 Southeast Asia
Army troops have captured a suspected bomb-maker who was carrying powerful explosives during a clash with Muslim militants in the southern Philippines, a military official said Monday.

Troops were looking for communist guerrillas behind a recent bomb attack on a cell phone transmission tower when they clashed with at least five Muslim militants in a jungle near Pantukan township in southern Compostela Valley province on Sunday, Maj. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu said.

Troops captured Giovanni de Ocampo during the clash, but four of his companions escaped. Ocampo told investigators he has links with the regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah, Mapagu said, adding authorities were verifying his statement. "He was carrying homemade bombs and a lot of bomb parts and it is clear that we have pre-empted some planned attacks," Mapagu told The Associated Press by telephone.
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2009-03-10 Southeast Asia
Two convicted members of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network said on Monday that they were ready to testify in court against Indonesian-born Al Qaeda terrorist suspect Riduan “Hambali” Isamuddin if he was returned to Indonesian custody after the United States closed its Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba.

In an exclusive jailhouse interview, Ali Imron and Mubarok, both serving life sentences for their roles in the 2000 Christmas Eve and 2002 Bali bombings, told the Jakarta Globe that Hambali had financed and organized the simultaneous bombings of Christian churches and homes in six provinces, killing 18 people. “Hambali’s role in the Christmas Eve terror was to trigger our desire to wage jihad against nonbelievers,” Imron said from his jail cell at the Jakarta Regional Police headquarters. “He was the mastermind of the church bombings,” he said.

Imron, who escaped a firing squad last year by expressing remorse for his actions, and Mubarok are cooperating with National Police investigators, who are preparing a dossier of charges against Hambali in the hopes that he will be returned to Indonesia after Guantanamo Bay is closed. However, in a clear disagreement, senior government officials have been reported to have privately asked the United States to continue detaining Hambali, citing widespread consensus within the security, military and law enforcement communities that his return home would be an unwanted distraction and could rejuvenate his terrorist network, popularly known as JI. In addition, a senior national security official said there may not be enough evidence to convict Hambali of any domestic terrorist activities in an Indonesian court.

Imron and Mubarok told the Jakarta Globe that they had met Hambali and Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, who was executed in November for his role in the first Bali bombings, in a hotel in Surabaya, East Java Province, just a few weeks before the Dec. 24, 2000, bombings. They said Hambali outlined what would be extremely well-coordinated attacks on targets in 11 cities, saying: “It’s the proper time to take revenge by bombing churches.”

“Me, Amrozi and Mubarok spent the night in Hambali’s hotel room and early in the morning we, including Hambali, went to Mojokerto to survey churches,” Mubarok said, referring to the city located 50 kilometers from Surabaya. He said bombs were later planted at the Eben Haezer, Santo Yoesoef and Allah Baik churches in Mojokerto, which killed two people and wounded six others. Mubarok said Hambali left Surabaya before the attacks were carried out and may have been in Malaysia when the bombs went off.

However, Imron and Mubarok said they had no information about whether Hambali was involved in the 2002 Bali bombings, despite claims by US intelligence officials that he, as JI’s operations chief, had masterminded them. “I think he didn’t know anything about planning and carrying out the Bali bombings,” Mubarok said.

Government and private terrorism analysts have said the best case for prosecuting Hambali here would be for murder charges over the Christmas Eve bombings, which occurred in the North Sumatra provincial capital of Medan, and the provinces of Batam, Riau, West Java, Jakarta, East Java and West Nusa Tenggara. They said the case would rest on testimony from Imron and Mubarok, because Hambali couldn’t be prosecuted retroactively under the 2002 terrorism law, and no forensic evidence linked him to other plots.
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2009-03-06 Southeast Asia
A Singapore terror suspect admitted in court Thursday to helping plot a 2001 attack on the city-state's airport, saying members of his al-Qaida-linked militant network wanted to plow a hijacked Russian Aeroflot into the terminal. Mohammad Hassan bin Saynudin, 36, did not say why the Changi Airport strike was canceled.

But prosecutors told the South Jakarta District Court that he and other Jemaah Islamiyah members backed out at the last minute - they already had tickets in hand - because the media had uncovered details about their plot.

It is not the first time bin Saynudin has made such claims of responsibility.

Last month, he told Singapore's newspaper, The Straits Times, he and fugitive JI leader Mas Selamat Kastari came up with the plan because they wanted to punish the city-state for supporting the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

Jemaah Islamiyah has been blamed for a string of terrorist attacks on Western targets since Sept. 11, 2001, including the nightclub bombings on Indonesia's resort island of Bali in 2002 that left 202 people dead, many of them foreign tourists.

They've also been linked to several foiled plots in the region - including the Singapore airport strike.

Bin Saynudin and nine other alleged members of his group were arrested in July for allegedly planning an attack on a bar on Indonesia's western island of Sumatra.

The Singaporean was speaking Thursday at the trial of two of those men.
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2009-02-27 Southeast Asia
A SINGAPOREAN Islamist told an Indonesian court on Thursday he had met Osama bin Laden and had tried to recruit Indonesians to follow the Al-Qaeda leader's call to jihad or 'holy war'. Mohammad Hasan bin Saynudin told the South Jakarta district court he had established a terror cell and passed on bomb-making techniques with a view to carrying out attacks against Christians and Westerners in Indonesia.

'I've met Osama bin Laden a few times in Afghanistan. I've learned the lesson of jihad from him,' Hasan said in testimony during his trial alongside two other suspected members of his cell.

'It wasn't easy meeting Osama bin Laden. He wouldn't disclose his identity to regular people.'

The defendants are among 10 suspects arrested in Palembang, South Sumatra in June and July last year with alleged links to some of the region's most wanted terrorists from the regional Jemaah Islamiyah network.

Hasan, who has openly talked to the media from prison about his contacts with bin Laden, admitted to the court that he was the ringleader of the Palembang cell.

'I was the one who initially urged them to jihad,' he said. 'I taught them how to make bombs. I ordered them to gather all the bomb materials.'

He also said he had known Hambali, an alleged Indonesian terror mastermind and Guantanamo detainee, since 1995.

One of Hasan's co-accused, former Islamic school principal Abdul Rahman Taib, dismissed any links to Jemaah Islamiyah which is blamed for a string of deadly attacks around South-east Asia over the past decade.

'This is a new generation. We learn jihad from the Koran and the Internet,' he said.

At the time of their arrests, police said they found 20 improvised bombs and a safe house in Palembang. The cell is accused of planning to bomb a backpacker cafe in the tourist town of Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, and kill two Christian priests in Jakarta in August 2006.

They also allegedly attacked Christian priest Yosua Winardi with a hammer in the same year and murdered Christian teacher Dago Simamora in June 2007.

Taib admitted to plotting and carrying out attacks against Christians, including the aborted plan to bomb the tourist cafe.

'Dago Simamora was killed because he forbade his students to wear headscarves at school,' he said.
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2009-02-15 Southeast Asia
Malaysia has released three alleged members of a Southeast Asian terrorist network who had been imprisoned without trial for years, a human rights group said Saturday.

Businessman Suhaimi Mokhtar was arrested in 2002, engineer Zaini Zakaria in 2003 and businessman Mohd Khider Kadran in 2004 under Malaysia's Internal Security Act - which allows indefinite detention without trial - during a crackdown on the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah network.

Southeast Asian security officials said Zaini had withdrawn from a foiled 2002 al-Qaida strike in which he and two others were to pilot planes in a second wave of Sept. 11-style attacks.

The trio were freed from a prison Thursday but must report weekly to police and remain within the districts where they live, said Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh of the Abolish ISA Movement.

"We welcome their release, but we are concerned with the selective release," he told The Associated Press. There are still about 40 people held under the act, including four suspected Jemaah Islamiyah members, he said.

Home Ministry officials could not be reached for comment Saturday.

No reasons were given for why the three men were released, but authorities say some suspects were freed in the past after repenting following rehabilitation programs and counseling.

The Malaysian government jailed more than 200 suspects between 2001 and 2003, but many have been released over the past few years.

Syed Ibrahim said the Abolish ISA Movement plans to hold a rally in March to demand the act be repealed. Critics say the law is abused to silence dissidents, but the government defends it as necessary to protect national security and ensure stability.

At Jemaah Islamiyah's peak in early 2000, it had members in several Southeast Asian nations. Officials say the group has been decimated in recent years in a regional crackdown supported by the United States and other Western governments.

Among the strikes attributed to Jemaah Islamiyah and affiliate groups are the 2002 bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists; the 2003 and 2004 attacks on the J.W. Marriott Hotel and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta; and the 2005 triple suicide bombings on restaurants in Bali.
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2009-01-24 Southeast Asia
(AKI) - Three Filipino Islamist rebels were sentenced to life in prison for their involvement in a Manila train station bombing in 2000 that killed 11 people. Known as the Rizal Day bombing case, it was one of the Philippines' worst terror attacks.

"This serves to reinforce our faith in our justice system. Our government will make sure that justice is served, that hateful ideology never triumphs, that peace loving citizens are kept safe and that democracy continues to prosper," said Lorelei Fajardo, spokeswoman of Philippines president Gloria Arroyo.

The attack against the train station was part of a series of five bombing attacks that claimed the lives of 22 people.

The blasts were allegedly led by Al-Qaeda linked militant group Jemaah Islamiyah bomber Fathur Roman al-Ghozi. He was shot dead by government forces in 2003 after escaping from police custody. Al-Ghozi is said to have paid one of the three convicts to carry out the attacks.

The three defendants, Muklis Hadji Yunos, Abdul Fatak Paute and Mamasao Naga are members of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front and reportedly have links to Jemaah Islamiyah.

However, under Philippines law, a life sentence lasts for a minimum of 20 years, after which a convict may be pardoned, to a maximum of 40 years. The lawyer of the three convicts will appeal the sentence.

Contacts between JI and the MILF go back to the anti-Soviet campaign in Afghanistan. Links between the groups were strengthened after the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States, when members of JI were received in the forests of Mindanao, in the southern Philippines.

Although relations have been strained since 2003, experts say radical elements in the MILF still have contact with JI and that dozens of jihadists still are in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago.

The MILF is the largest of several Muslim separatist groups in the predominantly Catholic country.

The group has an estimated 11,000 armed fighters and has been been fighting for self-rule in the volatile south for over three decades.

JI is widely considered south-east Asia's most dangerous terrorist organisation and was believed to be behind the bloodiest attacks in Indonesia. Its goal is the creation of a Muslim 'caliphate' in southeast Asia.
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2009-01-16 Southeast Asia
NINE suspected bombers thought to belong to Islamic extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) have been arrested in separate raids in the southern Philippines, the army said on Thursday.

The arrests were made Monday and Tuesday near the town of Awang on Mindanao island, the army's Eastern Mindanao Command said.

It did not say if the suspects were foreigners, although earlier military intelligence reports have said dozens of Indonesian JI militants are believed to be training in the south alongside Filipinos from the Abu Sayyaf group and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The suspects were 'undergoing tactical interrogations,' the army said.

It said they were found with bomb-making devices and explosives, similar to those used in a series of attacks that have wounded more than 40 people since December.

The Al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) is blamed for the 2002 nightclub bombings in Bali, Indonesia that left over 200 dead, many of them Australian tourists.

Filipino and regional terrorism experts say the JI has infiltrated Islamist groups here after two of its senior bomb-makers, Dulmatin and Umar Patek, fled to Mindanao in 2003.

The US government has offered up to US$11 million (S$16.5 million) as a reward for the capture of the two.

Dulmatin was reported killed in a clash with Filipino troops in the south last year, although DNA tests later on a decomposing body said to be his were declared inconclusive.

In a separate incident, a bomb destroyed a small army boat at the southern port of Cotobato but caused no injuries.

Experts disarmed a second bomb in another boat, the army said, adding that the devices were similar to those widely-used by militants.
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2009-01-16 Southeast Asia
(AKI) - A Singaporean terror suspect admitted that he and an Islamist militant fugitive planned to hijack an airplane in Thailand and crash it into Singapore's Changi Airport.

"We wanted to do it out of anger with Singapore for being an ally of the United States for what it did in Afghanistan," said Mohammed Hassan Saynudin, quoted by Singaporean daily, The Straits Times.

Saynudin and alleged member of the militant Jemaah Islamiyah, Mas Selamat Kastari failed to carry out the attack six years ago after Thai authorities found out about it.

"What I was trying to do was to defend Islam and Muslims," he said.

Saynudin, 35, appeared in the South Jakarta District Court in the Indonesian capital to face terrorism charges. If convicted, he may be executed.

Kastari is accused of being a leader of the JI terror organisation. He was being held without trial in a detention centre in Singapore and escaped last February after asking for a toilet break during a family visit.

Kastari fled Singapore in 2001 after the authorities cracked down on JI and arrested dozens of its members.
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2009-01-14 Southeast Asia
Ten suspected militants went on trial on Tuesday for allegedly killing a Christian schoolteacher and plotting to bomb a cafe. The defendants, including a Singaporean who allegedly met Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, face lifetime sentences in prison if convicted on charges of illegal possession of explosives, murder, plotting a terrorist attack and harbouring fugitives. The men are suspected members of the Southeast Asian terrorist network, Jemaah Islamiyah, which is accused of carrying out several suicide bombings against Western targets in Indonesia since 2002, including bombings on the resort island of Bali, their indictment said.

Police raids, last July, seized 22 loaded explosive devices. They were allegedly intended to carry out an attack at a bar, Kafe Bedudel, frequented by non-Muslims, in a hilly resort town on the Sumatra Island. The attack was called off after the militants realised it might unintentionally kill Muslims. Defendant Fajar Taslim, a 35-year-old Singaporean teacher of Pakistani heritage, is allegedly a member of a Singaporean cell believed to have plotted to hijack a plane in Bangkok in 2002 and crash it into the international airport there.
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2009-01-13 Southeast Asia
The Department of Justice (DoJ) approved the filing of a case for illegal possession of explosives against a Bangladeshi national arrested last year on suspicion of being a member of the Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah. "After a careful review of the evidence and the pleadings submitted by the parties, we find probable cause against respondent [Mohammad Rafiq Ullah] for illegal possession of explosives," State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera said in his resolution.

Ullah was arrested last December 2 at his cellphone repair shop in Barangay (village) Tapayan, Sultan Mustura Armando, in the then province of Shariff Kabunsuan. Members of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) confiscated two rocket propelled grenade (RPG) projectiles, an RPG shell with explosive filler, an RPG shell with fuse assembly, soldering lead, electrical wires, and 81mm mortar shells, among others.

During the preliminary investigation, as well as in his counter-affidavit, Ullah denied he being a bomb-maker and claiming his arrest was a case of mistaken identity. But the prosecutor noted that several identification cards with different names were confiscated from Ullah, who admitted to using the names as aliases "to confuse the authorities."
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2009-01-02 Southeast Asia
At a small, backstreet bookstore here, the young staff members, wearing matching green skull caps and sporting adolescent chin beards, stock books with titles like "Waiting for the Destruction of Israel" and "Principles of Jihad." They work quietly, listening to the voice of a firebrand Islamic preacher playing on the store's sound system, his sermon peppered with outbursts of machine-gun fire. Another young man, a customer, flips through a pile of DVDs that chronicle the conflicts in Chechnya, Afghanistan and Sudan. And in the back, slogans like "Support Your Local Mujahedeen" and "Taliban All-Stars" are scrawled across T-shirts, stickers and pins.

The bookstore, called Arofah, is a short walk from Pesantren Al-Mukmin, an Islamic boarding school closely associated with Jemaah Islamiyah, the Southeast Asian terrorist network linked to Al Qaeda that seeks to establish an Islamic state and has been implicated in most of the major terrorist bombings in Indonesia. Some of the most notorious extremists in Indonesia have graduated from the school, including Mukhlas, also known as Ali Ghufron, one of the three men put to death in November for their roles in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. Imam Samudra and Mukhlas's younger brother Amrozi were also executed.

During their five years in prison, Mukhlas and Samudra wrote more than a dozen books. These books are now being picked up by several Solo-area publishers and will soon make their way to booksellers like Arofah. This consortium of publishers, many of whom openly support the ideological goals of the now-banned Jemaah Islamiyah, has developed over the past decade - spurred on by the fall of Suharto, the late authoritarian ruler of Indonesia, and the new freedoms democracy has provided.

The dissemination of jihadi thought, which includes topics as diverse as support for Islamic Shariah law and calls for violent action against non-Muslims, is troubling to counterterrorism officials. But analysts say what might be more troubling is what this small but expanding group of publishers indicates about how interconnected, and resilient, the Jemaah Islamiyah movement is in Indonesia.

There are at least a dozen loosely connected publishers in the Solo area. Although they are separate businesses often in competition with each other, they share editors, designers, printers, translators, distributors and even authors.

Mukhlas, the former operations chief for Jemaah Islamiyah, wrote nearly 10 books in the last five years that are waiting to be published, including an autobiography that is said to paint the Bali bombings as a justifiable act of vengeance for the ill-treatment of Muslims around the world and a book on the hidden meanings of dreams.

Samudra wrote a sequel to his 2005 defense of the Bali bombings, "Me Against the Terrorists." The new book addresses questions from the hundreds of readers about the first book and will be titled "They Are the Terrorists" - referring to Western leaders. He also wrote a book about human rights, one of his lawyers said.

"Most of the publishers come from Solo, but we hope to sell the books in both large, commercial bookstores as well as smaller ones across Indonesia," said the lawyer, Achmad Michdan, who has written introductions for several of the books.

Although the circle of Solo publishers is expanding, radical books generally do not sell that well in Indonesia. Samudra's first book, considered a breakout success for its type, sold only about 10,000 copies. Publishers can afford to print such books by piggybacking on another, broader trend: the ballooning demand for mainstream Islamic texts. Books that explore the Islamic lifestyle - addressing issues like how to be a good Muslim woman or the Islamic take on the end of the world and life after death - are the biggest sellers here now. One popular Muslim-themed love story sold hundreds of thousands of copies and was recently made into a movie.

Like their mainstream counterparts, the Solo-area publishers say they are only businessmen and are not necessarily trying to spread any particular ideology. "Although political books don't make much money, there is a growing market for them," said Tri Asmoro, the owner of Arofah bookstore, who also owns a publishing company of the same name and its imprint, Media Islamika, which is devoted to jihadi texts and carries the slogan "Join the Caravan of Martyrs."

Bambang Sukirno, who owns Aqwam Group and its imprint Jazera, which got its start with Samudra's first book, said he was only addressing a topical subject, just like "journalists and others around the world are doing." "We see that this 'terrorism' phenomenon, whether you like it or not, has seized space in this world," he said.

A report by the International Crisis Group earlier this year suggests that the rise of radical publishers could indicate that Jemaah Islamiyah is beginning to wage jihad through the printed page rather than violent acts. "Some publishers may be playing a more positive than negative role, directing members into above-ground activities and enabling them to promote a jihadi message without engaging in violence," the report says. But the message, once put into book form, often enters the classroom and Islamic study circles, ultimately helping to recruit young people into Jemaah Islamiyah's ranks, according to the Indonesian authorities.

The government, however, faces a quandary. As a secular government piloting the largest Muslim population in the world, it must balance its campaign to stamp out terrorist activities with its simultaneous effort to nurture a developing democracy and freedom of expression.

Sukirno, like the other publishers in the Solo area, is well aware of the government's concerns and is not worried that his company might be shut down because of the kinds of books he publishes.

"Democracy in Indonesia is thriving, and if the government ever tried to interfere in the publishing industry, well, that would be dangerous," he said. "Interference would just give birth to waves of resistance and undermine democracy. Books are a reflection of a civilized nation."
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2008-12-26 Southeast Asia
The military said it was highly probable that Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron and a Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militant were killed in recent encounters in Sulu.

Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Nelson Allaga said there were indications that Sahiron was killed after he fell off his horse, which was shot by automatic gunfire from government troops during an encounter in Talipao last Dec. 7. "There is a very high probability that Radulan Sahiron was killed and one JI, but we can not confirm and validate it as of the moment," Allaga said.

Allaga added they were not able to retrieve the supposed body of Sahiron to confirm his death. "The reason we came up with that conclusion is because in the (Abu Sayyaf) camp that was attacked by the troops, we saw the horse of Radulan lying on the ground, and he usually rides on (that) horse," Allaga said. The attack in Talipao also killed nine soldiers, he added.

On the identity of the slain JI militant, Allaga said they are still verifying the reports.

The reports also indicated three JI militants were among the Abu Sayyaf when troops launched the attack. Allaga identified the high value targets as Umar Patek, Marwan and Zulkipli. He stressed intelligence reports kept pouring in pointing that Sahiron was killed during the encounter.

Sahiron is among the high-ranking leaders of Abu Sayyaf wanted by the US government for the kidnapping of 21 tourists in the island resort of Sipadan, among other high profile kidnapping of foreigners.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief, Gen. Alexander Yano earlier revealed intelligence efforts to validate reports of the killing of a JI operative in the encounter. Yano said there are reliable reports that "a high value" al-Qaeda-linked JI operative was among the five terrorists killed by government troops during the assault on the suspected hideout of Sahiron. Yano, however, did not elaborate on the identity of the so-called high value target killed by troops during the encounter since they have not retrieved any dead body at the site.

Anti-terror Task Force Comet chief Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban also did not substantiate reports that a JI militant was among those killed during the assault. Sabban said troops in the area failed to retrieve the bodies of the slain JI terrorist or any of the Abu Sayyaf bandits since they had been dragged away by their fleeing comrades.
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2008-12-25 Southeast Asia
(AKI/Jakarta Post) - Security will be strengthened throughout Indonesia throughout the Christmas holiday season amid concerns about violent attacks that may be motivated by religion.

About 3,000 police officers will be deployed for Christmas and New Year's Day in West Java along the province's north coast highway and police will step up security at churches, as well as entertainment venues and public facilities.

"We will deploy intelligence and bomb disposal units," said Cirebon Police chief Sr. Comr. Nasser Amir.

The move follows a massive terrorism exercise in Indonesia on Sunday. Security forces stormed airports, luxury hotels, and the Jakarta Stock Exchange building in the anti-terrorism drill in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

About 7000 police, soldiers and emergency-response workers took part in the exercise in six major cities, including the capital, Jakarta, and on the popular resort island of Bali.

Indonesia has been hard hit by a string of deadly suicide bomb attacks since the September 11 attacks in the US.

The Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiyah was blamed for killed more than 200 people in the Bali Bomb attacks - Indonesia's worst terror attack - in October 2002.

Jemaah Islamiyah is also suspected of carrying out the 2003 JW Marriott hotel bombing in Jakarta, the Australian embassy bombing in 2004, and the 2005 Bali terrorist bombing.

In Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, the provincial and nine regency police forces will deploy at least 1,500 personnel to safeguard Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Police held a troop inspection to mark the launch of a security operation, code-named Lilin Rinjani Tambora (Rintam), at the West Nusa Tenggara Police field Tuesday, led by provincial police chief Brig. Gen. Surya Iskandar.

Several commands were set up in areas at high risk of crime 10 days before the holidays.

In Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, the provincial police will deploy around 1,400 personnel to safeguard Christmas and New Year celebrations.

"We will also heighten security at tourist sites, shopping areas, sea and airports and critical national assets," East Kalimantan Police chief Insp. Gen. Andi Masmiyat told The Jakarta Post in Balikpapan.
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2008-12-11 Southeast Asia
(AKI) - The Malaysian government has released five terror suspects, including Yazid Sufaat, who was accused of aiding terrorists during the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States. Interior Minister Syed Hamid Albar said Sufaat, allegedly linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah>Jemaah Islamiyah militant group, was released from the Kamunting detention centre in the northern Malaysian state of Perak.

"He was considered a threat to public security in Malaysia because he was part of Jemaah Islamiyah, trying to establish an Islamic government within the region," said Albar. "Yazid Sufaat and four others were released on 4 December".

However, Malaysian Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said Sufaat was released with another Malaysian on 24 November. "We released him as he had shown remorse and repentance after almost seven years of rehabilitation," said Hassan quoted by Malaysian English language daily The Star.
Oh. Well. I guess it's okay then.
"He was released on several conditions. He has to report to the police regularly and cannot leave Selangor without police permission. Our officers will also be monitoring him as well as several others who have been released over the past years to ensure they do not go back to their old ways,'' he said.
And let that be a lesson to ya, me boy. Get on home now...
Sufaat, arrested in December 2001, is accused of having housed several of the terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks when he lived in the United States. The terrorists allegedly used his house as a meeting place for Al-Qaeda members. Among those who visited his house were 9/11 attackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. Both were named by the American FBI as the hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon in Washington.

Sufaat was also accused by US authorities of helping convicted 9/11 conspirator Zacharias Moussaoui.

The other suspects that were released include two Thai separatists and two Malaysians suspected of aiding foreign intelligence groups.

Jemaah Islamiyah is widely considered South-East Asia's most dangerous terrorist organisation and responsible for the Bali bombings that killed 202 people in 2002.
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2008-12-05 Southeast Asia
Philippine prosecutors said on Thursday that they were looking into the alleged terrorist links of a Bangladeshi man arrested in the restive southern Mindanao island on suspicion he was plotting bomb attacks on government targets.

Muhammad Alpariz, 48, earlier erroneously reported by the police as a Pakistani, was arrested by security forces in Mindanao on Sunday. He is alleged to have ties with a Muslim separatist group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and a crime gang that extorted money from businessmen in the south of the country.

Alpariz denied the charges, but signed a waiver to remain in police custody while the investigation was being carried out. "Pending the completion of the preliminary investigation proceedings, I agree to remain under police custody," he said in a document he signed before the state prosecutor at the Justice Department. His lawyer said that at the moment Alpariz could only be charged with illegal possession of explosives, for which he could post bail. The authorities allege three mortar shell rounds were found at a telephone repair shop that the suspect owned. Intelligence officials linked Alpariz to the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), an Indonesian group acknowledged by the intelligence community as the Southeast Asia arm of Al Qaeda. They said Alpariz had planned bombings in Mindanao to divert military attention from the MILF, which has been engaged in intense combat with troops since August. The military has said that dozens of JI militants remain in Mindanao and are helping the MILF to carry out attacks.
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2008-11-11 Southeast Asia
(AKI) - A radical Islamic group, Majelis Mujahideen Indonesia has claimed that one of the Bali bombers executed at the weekend had asked the group to be collaborate on the 2002 bomb attacks. "Amrozi had asked us to collaborate on the Bali bomb attacks," said Muhammad Bachroni, a spokesman for MMI, in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

He was referring to Amrozi Nurhasyim, one of the three Bali bombers executed on Sunday. "We said no, because our way of fighting for (Islamic) Sharia law does not include violence," said Bachroni.

Imam Samudra, Amrozi Nurhasyim and Ali Ghufron (Mukhlas) were executed by firing squad at the island prison of Nusakambangan off southern Java on Sunday, government officials said. The three, who belonged to Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, were found guilty of planning the twin attacks on nightclubs at the resort of Kuta on the island of Bali in October 2002. A total of 202 people died in the attacks, most of them foreigners.

Responding to the executions on Sunday, Bachroni said they were rushed and unfair. "The attack in Bali was carried out with a small nuclear bomb made in Israel. Amrozi and the others were co-opted in participating in the attack organised by the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency)," Bachroni told AKI. "There needed to be more time to discover the other perpetrators," told Bachroni to AKI.

MMI is an Islamist organisation considered close to JI which aims at turning Indonesia into an Islamic state. Until last July, MMI was led by Abu Bakar Bashir, a radical cleric considered the spiritual leader of JI. Bashir has since formed another group called Jemaah Anshori Tauhid or defender of believing in one and only God teaching.

JI is widely considered south-east Asia's most dangerous terrorist organisation and was believed to be behind the bloodiest attacks in Indonesia. Intelligence agencies claim Bashir is the spiritual head of Jemaah Islamiyah and has links with Al-Qaeda.

In March 2005, Bashir was found guilty of conspiracy over the 2002 attacks. He was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment. In December 2006, Bashir's conviction was overturned by Indonesia's Supreme Court.
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2008-11-09 Southeast Asia
Three Islamic terrorists militants executed for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people were buried Sunday before hundreds of emotional supporters. Some hard-liners shouted "God is great!" and called the men holy warriors. Fearing attacks in retaliation for the executions, Indonesia increased security at tourist resorts, shopping malls and office buildings. Several embassies, including from the U.S. and Australia, urged their citizens to keep a low profile, saying they could be targeted.

Imam Samudra, 38, and brothers Amrozi Nurhasyim, 47, and Ali Ghufron, 48, were taken before firing squads in a field near their high-security prison on Nusakambangan island just after midnight, Jasman Panjaitan, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, told reporters. The men died instantly, he said, adding that their eyes were left uncovered at their request.

The three men never expressed remorse, saying the blasts were meant to punish the U.S. and its Western allies for alleged atrocities in Afghanistan and elsewhere. They even taunted family members of victims — 88 of whom were Australian — at their trials five years ago.

The executions, which were sensitive for both political and security reasons, ended years of uncertainty about their fate. Repeated postponements have frustrated survivors and relatives of victims, and enabled the bombers to rally supporters from behind bars by calling for revenge attacks in interviews aired on local television stations or published in newspapers and books.

The bombers' bodies were taken by helicopters to Tenggulun and Serang, their hometowns in east and west Java respectively, where thousands of sympathizers and onlookers turned out Sunday for their funeral processions. Dozens of radicals scuffled briefly with police in Tenggulun, home of the two brothers, Nurhasyim and Ghufron, but there were no serious disturbances.

Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, led the prayers for the brothers, one of their final requests. Former terrorists militants and police allege Bashir headed Jemaah Islamiyah in the early 2000s. But while he was found guilty of giving his blessing to the Bali attacks, his conviction was overturned after he spent more than three years in jail. Bashir said Saturday the bombers had "sacrificed their lives" for "the struggle of Islam."

Though the three Bali bombers said they were happy to die as martyrs, their lawyers fought for years to stop their executions, arguing they were convicted retroactively on anti-terrorism laws. They also opposed death by firing squad, saying their clients preferred beheadings because they were more "humane."
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2008-11-07 Southeast Asia
Seems like they were being executed because there was a massacre.
(AKI) -- The brother of one of the Bali bombers sentenced to death for Indonesia's worst terrorist attack has threatened a "massacre" if the executions are carried out. Jaafar Shodiq, brother of Amrozi, one of the three convicted bombers, issued the ultimatum, according to the press agency Detikcom. "If the execution is carried out there will be a massacre," said Jaafar Shodiq, according to the site. He gave the government the warning to stop the execution "if it wants to maintain security".
Once a government allows its actions to be constrained by bomb-waving pinheads it has no security to maintain.
The warning was revealed as Islamic extremists rallied in the Indonesian capital to protest against the imminent execution of the three bombers found guilty of the twin bomb attacks carried out in October 2002 on the island of Bali. A total of 202 people died in the attacks, most of them foreigners.

Around 100 chanting militants descended on the offices of the national human rights body as the bombers' lawyers met officials inside to demand access for the families. The militants condemned the executions, and praised bombers Amrozi, his brother Mukhlas and Imam Samudra, calling them holy warriors.

International rights group, Human Rights Watch, recently asked the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to commute the death sentence of the bombers who face imminent execution and instead sentence them to life in prison.

The Bali bomb attacks were the worst terrorist act in Indonesian history. The twin attacks which occurred on 12 October 2002 in the tourist district of Kuta on the island of Bali killed 202 people and injured more than 200 others. The three men were tried and sentenced under terrorism laws introduced after the bombings.

"The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Indonesia is party, prohibits in article 15 the retroactive application of penal legislation....the basis for the death sentence in these cases--should not have been applied to Amrozi, Ghufron, and Imam Samudra," said the letter.

With Imam Samudra and Ali Ghufron, Amrozi is a member of Jemaah Islamiyah, an Islamist terrorist group with suspected links to Al-Qaeda, that is committed to uniting south-east Asia under a Muslim caliphate.

Abu Rusdan, leader of JI from 2002 to 2004, said the group had no interest in the executions. "The execution is the responsibility of JI but the entire Islamic community," Abu Rusdan said. Abu Rusdan was found guilty of hiding one of the men who carried out the Bali bombings and sentenced to three and a half years in jail. "There is no room for violence in Islam. Islam wants prosperity for everyone," he said. "Violent acts are not justified in Islam."
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2008-11-04 Southeast Asia
(SomaliNet) Lawyers for the three Islamists facing execution for the Bali bombings which killed 202 people filed a desperate last-minute appeal on Monday to save them from the firing squad.

However, prosecutors said the appeal was invalid as the bombers - Amrozi, 47, his brother Mukhlas, 48, and Imam Samudra, 38 - had already exhausted their legal options and must now die in line with their 2003 sentences. "No more appeals can be accepted because the limit is only one," a spokesperson for Indonesia's Attorney General's Office said, even though the bombers have had at least three appeals considered by the Indonesian courts.

Lawyer Imam Asmara Hadi said the appeal filed in Bali's Denpasar district court rested on the bombers' claim they had not been properly informed of the rejection of their previous petition. "We have lodged an appeal because we haven't received a copy of the Supreme Court rejection of our previous appeal," Hadi said.

Police stepped up security around Cilacap port connecting southern Java to the high-security Nusakambangan prison island where the bombers are believed to be just days or even hours away from execution. Heavily armed police extended a no-go zone around the port and barred all traffic to the island in the latest sign that the executions are imminent.

Security has been tightened across the mainly Muslim archipelago due to concerns about revenge attacks from Islamist fanatics and the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terror network, believed to be responsible for the Bali carnage. The bombings of tourist nightspots on the resort island in 2002 killed more than 160 foreigners including 88 Australians, as well as 68 Indonesians.

Nusakambangan prison chief Bambang Winahyo said the bombers appeared to be calm and ready to die, in line with their repeated assertions that they want to be "martyrs" for their cause of creating a Southeast Asian caliphate. "They're in good condition, healthy. It seems they're facing this calmly," he said.

Relatives and lawyers were barred from visiting the bombers at Nusakambangan early on Monday as they did not have permission from Jakarta, officials said.

Ali Fauzi, the younger brother of Amrozi and Mukhlas, blasted the authorities for refusing to let him see the bombers for a last time. He said he would leave Cilacap later on Monday if permission did not arrive within hours. "I'm very disappointed with the Attorney General's Office for not allowing us to go in as my brothers have been put in an isolation room" ahead of their execution, he said. "I want to pass a message from my family to Amrozi and Mukhlas. My mother said for them to be patient, to be sincere and to accept their fate.

"But she also said that if I can bring them home alive and free, then I should bring them home," he added, laughing.

The 2002 Bali attacks were the bloodiest in a sustained period of Al-Qaeda-inspired jihadist violence in mainly moderate Indonesia. Bombings at the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta in 2003, the Australian embassy in 2004 and Bali again in 2005, among others, killed scores of people.

Jemaah Islamiyah>Jemaah Islamiyah is still active in plotting attacks across the region and the alleged mastermind of the Bali bombings, Malaysian extremist Noordin Mohammad Top, is still at large.
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2008-10-26 Southeast Asia
For the skullcapped students of the Darusy Syahadah Islamic school, there is no question that the three radical jihadis behind the 2002 bombings on Indonesia's Bali island are heroes. Sheltering from the equatorial sun on the steps of the school's mosque, the students crowd to offer their approval of bombers Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra. Authorities said this week the three bombers will face the firing squad by early November for their role in the attack, which killed 202 people.

'They're holy warriors, that's how I respond, they're holy warriors,' said Sir Muhammad Royhan Syihabuddin Ar-Rohmi, a slight 18-year-old. His friend, Nawawi, also 18, leaned forward in agreement: 'They are like us, they wanted to do good deeds.'

With its peeling buildings, stray sheep and low-hanging mango trees, Darusy Syahadah in Central Java has long been a key hub for recruitment and indoctrination in the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militant network, experts say. While authorities have wound up JI cells and killed and imprisoned key militants, JI-linked Islamic boarding schools across Indonesia have been left to spread the network's radical ideology. If a new generation of JI bombers were to emerge, it would be from schools like this. Alumni include Salik Firdaus, a suicide bomber who obliterated himself in the 2005 Bali bombing that killed 20 people.

However, analysts say the picture is not quite that simple. Hurt by the police crackdown and facing public disgust over bombings, JI is deeply split, said Ms Sidney Jones, a JI expert at the International Crisis Group think-tank. A small minority faction behind fugitive Malaysian Noordin Mohammed Top still supports and is working towards bombing local and foreign targets, she said. The other more numerous faction, dominating the schools, continues to glorify jihad, or holy war, but many of its members have been influenced by a government 'deradicalisation' strategy that has helped halt attacks. 'I think the schools are still problematic, they are inculcating the idea of the glory of jihad. But there isn't a jihad to fight now,' Ms Jones said. 'The question is: what will these graduates be doing five to 10 years from now?'

For Mr Mustaqim, the principal of Darusy Syahadah, the watchword is preparation. The school encourages exercise and self-defence and aims to strengthen and defend Islam, said Mr Mustaqim, sporting white robes, a wispy beard and bruises on his forehead from frequent prayer. 'It says in the Koran that infidels will strengthen each other and wage a war of falsehood. We have been instructed to strengthen Islam against falsehood,' he said. Outside the mosque, student Nawawi said it was 'up to God' whether he would follow the example set by the Bali bombers. 'Not everyone has to follow them,' he said.

At the al-Mukmin boarding school founded by alleged JI spiritual head Abu Bakar Bashir in the nearby town of Ngruki, the bombers are honoured but opinions are similarly mixed. About 1,600 students attend classes in rooms bedecked with cardboard cutouts of assault rifles and posters extolling the virtues of 'martyrdom.'

Sitting on the floor of his lounge in the school grounds, the acid-tongued Bashir blamed the main 2002 blast on a CIA 'micro-nuclear' device fired from a ship off the Balinese coast. 'The bomb Amrozi set off, the first one, at most it shattered glass and didn't wound people, or at most wounded them a little,' he said. '(The bombers) struggled in that way not as terror but with the aim of defending Islam, which is being terrorised by America and its friends... they are counter-terrorists, not terrorists,' he said.

But al-Mukmin school principal Wahyudin said the indiscriminate bombing of nightclubs on the island was a disproportionate response to the global oppression of Muslims. 'What I can fault is that Bali is not a conflict area, it's not an area of war. Although we can say there certainly were enemies there, there were also non-enemies. That has to be avoided. That was a mistake there,' he said.
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2008-10-24 Southeast Asia
(AKI) - Foreign Muslim fighters could join 'renegade' separatist commanders and escalate the ongoing conflict in the southern Philippines after the collapse of peace talks between Manila and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) separatist rebels, a leading think-tank has warned.

In its latest report, 'The Philippines: The Collapse of Peace in Mindanao,' the International Crisis Group said the possible involvement of foreign 'jihadists' could give the Philippines Army a green light for war against the MILF. Such a war remains unlikely, however, said the ICG.

The army is currently pursuing three renegade MILF commanders -- Ameril Umbra Kato, Abdullah Macapaar alias Bravo, and Aleem Sulaiman Pangalian. The three are accused of having attacked villages in North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte after an order by the Philippines' Supreme Court blocked a peace agreement with the MILF. The deal would have created an expanded ancestral Muslim 'domain' or autonomous homeland on the southern island of Mindanao.

The Supreme Court injunction followed legal challenges raised by mainly Catholic politicians in Mindanao objected to what they feared was as a move to create an independent Muslim state, saying they had not been consulted on the content of the peace agreement.

Clashes between the MILF and the Army have since become more frequent but both sides have said that they do not want to escalate the conflict for an all-out war.

But the ICG warned that the rebels could recruit foreign jihadists to join the renegade commanders. "Jihadis in Mindanao could decide to undertake retaliatory action, since Kato and Bravo have assisted them in the past. A major urban bombing could turn trigger a much wider conflict," warned ICG.

A small, mobile jihadist unit led by Indonesian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) member Umar Patek is known to operate from the Sulu Archipelago in the southern Philippines. Patek's unit is believed to consist of some 10 men hailing from JI and two other jihadist organisations (KOMPAK and Darul Islam).

The peace agreement, which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last week, was the culmination of eleven years of negotiations. It was due to be signed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 5 August. The Supreme Court's effective scuppering of the peace accord has sparked fighting that by mid-October had displaced some 390,000 people.
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2008-10-13 Southeast Asia
Survivors, relatives of the victims and government officials on Sunday marked the sixth anniversary of the deadly bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

The attack, blamed on the Jemaah Islamiyah network, claimed the lives of 202 people from 22 countries. Australia, which for years saw Bali as its playground, had the most victims, with 88. Australian ambassador Bill Farmer read a statement from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during a ceremony attended by some 100 people at the Australian consulate on the resort island. "The 12 October 2002 tragedy shocked Australia. For those who lost loved ones, life will never be the same," Rudd said in a statement.

"We think of the families and friends of the victims. Our thoughts and sympathies will always be with them," he added. Tearful mourners took turns placing bouquets of flowers at a wooden cross memorial built by victims' families at the Australian consulate in the Balinese capital Denpasar. Rudd praised Indonesia for the crackdown it carried out in the wake of the worst terror attack in the region.

"We can be proud that the partnership between Indonesia and Australia is the strongest it has ever been," he said. Farmer added that it was hoped terrorists would continue to be brought to justice. The anniversary was held amid a promise from the Indonesian government that the three key bombers - Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Ali Ghufron - would be executed by the end of the year.

Indonesian prosecutors had earlier put plans on hold to execute the bombers before the month of Ramazan on September, citing bureaucratic delays.
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2008-10-04 Southeast Asia
We just don't know which year ...
JAKARTA- Three Indonesian Islamists on death row over the 2002 Bali bombings which killed more than 200 people will be executed by the end of the year, a report said on Friday.

No final date has been set for the execution but prosecutors have received key paperwork allowing it to go ahead, attorney general's office spokesman Jasman Panjaitan was quoted as saying by news website Detikcom.

Jemaah Islamiyah militants Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra face a firing squad over the nightclub attacks on the resort island of Bali which killed 202 people, mainly foreign holidaymakers. "It's not in writing yet when they will be executed, but what is certain is that it will be this year," Panjaitan said.
Anytime now, yewbetcha ...
Prosecutors had earlier put plans to execute the bombers before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan -- which ended this week -- on hold, citing bureaucratic delays.

The bombers on Wednesday promised "retribution" if they are executed. "The people who will execute us, if they do this execution they will be cursed by God," bomber Mukhlas told reporters at the island prison off southern Java where they are being held. "If the execution is carried out, that will constitute the biggest criminal act because they will be killing holy warriors."
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2008-10-03 Southeast Asia
The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has a new leader: Ustadz Yasser Igasan. According to a reliable Army Commander, Igasan is a religious scholar, not a warrior. Sulu Representative Yusof Jikiri said he had heard Igasan was "very spiritual," but he also noted Igasan was a Tausog, an ethnic group known as fierce fighters.

Muhammad Jamal Khalifa, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law, established Darul Imam Shafin in 1988. Khalifa's International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) funded the religious school.
When the news first leaked that ASG commanders had met to choose a new leader, not much was known about Igasan. Since then, a more complete portrait has emerged. Igasan, in his 40s, was among the original members of ASG, along with its founder, Ustadz Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani. In 1993, Igasan was a classmate of Abdurajak's brother, Khaddafy Janjalani, at Darul Imam Shafin, an Islamic institution in Marawi City. Muhammad Jamal Khalifa, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law, established Darul Imam Shafin in 1988. Khalifa's International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) funded the religious school. The IIRO ostensibly was engaged in charity work. Investigators say Khalifa was funneling funds to terrorists and supporting secessionist movements in the southern Philippines. He was ASG's link to al-Qaeda. The Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council has since frozen IIRO accounts.

As a teenager, Igasan reportedly traveled to Afghanistan to fight the then-Soviet army. How involved Igasan was in any fighting is unclear. The Arabs of al-Qaeda and their Taliban allies regarded Southeast Asian Muslims as not real Muslims. They often gave them lesser duties in camp. Igasan met Janjalani in Afghanistan, and the two talked about a separate Islamic state in the Philippines. When they returned home, they cooperated in establishing the Abu Sayyaf Group. Igasan was in the first ASG camp in Basilan-Camp Al-Madinah. He was there when marines overran the camp. Igasan also was with the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas who raided the town of Ipil in 1995, killing more than 50 people. He reportedly was wounded during the army's pursuit operation.

In 1998, Janjalani's death left ASG with three choices for a new leader or emir: Igasan, Khadaffy Janjalani and Radulan Sahiron. The election quickly became a choice between Igasan and Khadaffy. Those who favored Igasan noted that although he and Khadaffy were fellow students at Darul Imam Shafi, it was Igasan that Khalifa had appointed "mushrif"-top of the class. Igasan subsequently became head of Quranic Studies for the IIRO. Igasan also was Khadaffy's senior by three years and thus had three years more field experience. Igasan's supporters believed he had religious credentials almost as good as those of the elder Janjalani. In the end, however, the field commanders threw their support behind Khaddafy, the dead emir's brother.

By the late 1990s, Igasan had left the Philippines for further Islamic studies in Libya and Syria.
By the late 1990s, Igasan had left the Philippines for further Islamic studies in Libya and Syria. He took a lesser role in ASG after Khaddafy's election and left the country again in 2001. This time, he traveled to Saudi Arabia as an overseas Filipino worker, but it was a cover for his real activities. Igasan made contact with Abu Abdurahman, who was involved with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Igasan began to funnel money from jihadist supporters in Saudi Arabia to Abu Sayyaf. He also might have facilitated the travel of two unidentified militants from Yemen, who were in Basilan with ASG. They left for Mindanao with Khadaffy and his second-in-command, Abu Solaiman. Hostages confirmed the unidentified Yemenis were present when the militants celebrated the September 2001 attacks in the United States.

ASG commanders might have supported Igasan's election because of his foreign contacts. They badly need funding, and Igasan's past activities provide the guerrillas with legitimacy as jihadists rather than common criminals. Igasan's next move likely will be to target Westerners in kidnappings for ransom, particularly foreign aid workers, businessmen and tourists. The abductions also can be a tactic to persuade foreign militants that Abu Sayyaf is part of the global jihad.

Igasan's religious credentials make him an equal religious authority with the Muslim religious scholars who have issued fatwas, or religious edicts, condemning ASG. His background also could curry favor with Ustadz Habier Malik, a renegade member of the Moro National Liberation Front who withdrew from a peace agreement with the government. In addition, Igasan as leader would make Abu Sayyaf more appealing to the regional Jemaah Islamiyah>Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group.

Sources inside the Moro Islamic Liberation Front discount all the speculation about Igasan. They say ASG has adopted the loose "inverted pyramid system of leadership" favored by al-Qaeda. Such a leadership style allows individual commanders autonomy to protect the secrecy of their operations. It means that Igasan would function as a spiritual guide rather than operational planner.
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2008-10-02 India-Pakistan
(AKI) - Al-Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri narrowly escaped arrest by the Pakistani military, according to an Islamist militant leader. Naji Ibrahim, leader of the Islamist militant organisation, Jemaah Islamiyah made the claim in an interview with Egyptian daily al-Misriun. The Pakistani military had reportedly located al-Zawahiri's hiding place in the lawless tribal areas controlled by the Pakistani Taliban, also thought to be a haven for Al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden.

The US State Department has offered a 25 million dollar reward for the Egyptian-born doctor, who has delivered numerous audio and video messages urging militants to continue the fight against the United States.
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2008-08-23 Southeast Asia
(AKI) - The three Islamic militants convicted of the 2002 Bali bombing have been given a stay of execution due to the upcoming holy fasting month of Ramadan in September. Fearing a backlash from the Muslim community, Indonesian authorities have decided to delay the execution of Amrozi, his brother Mukhlas and Imam Samudra.

The three were convicted of planning and carrying out the nightclub bombings in October 2002 which was the worst act of terrorism in Indonesia. The attacks killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists, and injured another 209 people.

The Indonesian Attorney general's office had said it hoped to execute the Islamist militants who were convicted in 2003, before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins in early September. It is now expected to be delayed until after Ramadan.

The three convicted terrorists, members of the militant Jemaah Islamiyah>Islamist Jemaah Islamiyah, are at Nusakambangan prison island in Central Java.
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2008-08-20 Southeast Asia
The Islamist bombers who killed 202 people on the resort island of Bali in 2002 have exhausted appeals against their death sentences, but they are returning to court to argue that they should be beheaded rather than shot.
"Too bad. We're gonna shoot youse. Whaddya want for yer last meal?"
Strawberries ain't in season!"
"We'll wait!"

The Indonesian government wants to put the three men in front of a firing squad before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins next month. But their lawyers insist that would be inhumane. The three bombers say they prefer to be beheaded, according to local reports. Their lawyers have suggested lethal injection.
"Or we could just OD 'em on reds. That'd be kinda peaceful..."
"After the strawberries, of course."

Indonesia's Constitutional Court has agreed to hear a petition from Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, Imam Samudra and Ali Gufron, who were convicted for the backpack and van bomb attacks on Bali nightclubs. Imam Samudra was convicted as a lead organizer and Gufron of masterminding the attacks. In the court filing, lawyers from a group called the Muslim Defenders Team insisted that the bombers had "a constitutional right not to be tortured," and maintained that any delay between being shot and dying would amount to torture.
The Muslim Defenders Team would be the Muslim Defenders League, which is another organization set up by Abu Bakr Bashir, who was found not guilty of being head of Jemaah Islamiyah.
As an example, they offered the March 10 execution of Muhammad Tubagus Yusuf Maulana, a shaman who duped villagers out of thousands of dollars by convincing them they would reap riches by paying him. He poisoned eight people and buried their bodies. Maulana died 10 minutes after being shot by a firing squad, even though one member is armed with a pistol to dispatch, with a point-blank shot to the head, anyone who survives the volley aimed at the heart. "This means that the law admits that the prisoner [might] still be alive after he has already been shot, and certainly blood will be all over him, so that he will undergo a very deep torture before he finally dies by the final shot," the petition said.

Atty. Gen. Hendarman Supandji has said he wants the executions carried out before Ramadan, expected to begin Sept. 1, but the court's ruling isn't expected before then.
Comes as a surprise, dunnit?
The bombers' legal team conceded that the attorney general has the authority to carry out the executions without waiting for the court's ruling, but argued that such action would disrespect the constitution.

In anticipation of an execution order, authorities have tightened security around Nusakambangan Island, where the men are imprisoned. Samudra warned this year that Al Qaeda was "very likely" to retaliate if the bombers are executed, and some terrorism experts and Indonesian commentators maintain that using a firing squad could have the effect of making them martyrs.
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2008-08-07 Southeast Asia
The three convicted Bali bombers filed a petition against firing squads in Indonesia's constitutional court Wednesday in a last-ditch bid to stave off their executions, lawyers said.

The members of the Islamist Jemaah Islamiyah network -- Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Ali Ghufron -- are awaiting execution over the 2002 bombings on the resort island that killed more than 200 people, most of them foreign tourists.

After exhausting their last appeals, they have now asked the constitutional court to rule on whether firing squads were a form of torture, their lawyers said. Lawyer Wirawan Adnan said the men wanted to be decapitated instead. "Execution by shooting won't kill the convicts instantly. The law states that if the first shot on the heart doesn't work, they must be shot again to the head," he said. "The three have requested execution by decapitation."

Executions in Indonesia are by firing squad, usually carried out at night in isolated and undisclosed locations. The prisoner is notified at least 72 hours in advance.

The bombers have shown no regret for the attacks and say they are looking forward to dying as "martyrs".

Indonesian officials have already said the constitutional court's deliberations will not delay the executions, unless it rules quickly in favour of the bombers. "The executions are one problem and the decision of the constitutional court is another problem -- there is no relationship," Human Rights Minister Andi Mattalatta told journalists.

Attorney general's office spokesman Bonaventura Nainggolan confirmed that planning for the executions was proceeding. "It has nothing to do with the execution process. The constitutional challenge they filed won't have any effect on the planned execution," he said.

"It will only have an effect if the constitutional court issues a decision quickly in their favour."

But defence lawyer Adnan said the executions must be put on hold until the court rules on the petition. "Otherwise the execution will be illegitimate," he said.

Officials have said they hope to execute the bombers before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in September, and have already chosen men to form the firing squads.
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2008-08-01 Southeast Asia
INDONESIA has tightened security at an island prison where the three Bali bombers are being held ahead of their immiment execution, fearing a reprisal attack, a senior official said today.

"We don't want a bomb to explode in any corner of this very big prison complex,'' Nusakambangan island prison chief Bambang Winahyo said. "All things or visitors entering this prison must be checked extra carefully. We don't want to leave any single loophole for any security disturbances or bomb blasts."

The three members of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terror network - Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Ali Ghufron - were convicted in 2003 for their roles in the 2002 Bali bombings on the island of Bali which killed more than 200 people. Justice officials have said they will be executed by firing squad on the island before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan around September, after their last appeal was thrown out of court earlier in July.
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2008-07-31 Southeast Asia
Two alleged Indonesian terror leaders were headed to Iraq to seek help from al Qaeda, according to a seized laptop that indicates regional militants are cash-strapped but determined to rebuild international links, security officials say.

Abu Husna and Agus Purwantoro are reputed to be key leaders in Jemaah Islamiyah, a militant network that once accepted al Qaeda funds to carry out strikes in Southeast Asia.

The men were detained in Malaysia in March and are awaiting trial in Jakarta, Indonesia.
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2008-07-22 Southeast Asia
(Xinhua) -- Singapore said here on Monday it did not rule out the possibility that Mas Selamat, head of the country's Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist network, has escaped to foreign countries.

"We obviously cannot dismiss the possibility that Mas Selamat could have managed to escape Singapore for another country. Singapore is not a fortress," said Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng in the Parliamenton Monday.

Wong said that Singapore's security agencies have so far not received any information from their Indonesian counterparts to confirm that the fugitive is hiding in the neighboring country.

However, if Mas Selamat has escaped abroad, Wong said, the city state will work with the relevant foreign counterparts to track him down and bring him back to justice in Singapore.

Meanwhile, two private individuals in Singapore have offered a cash reward of 1 million Singapore dollars (one U.S. dollar equals1.35 Singapore dollars) for information leading to the apprehension of Mas Selamat inside or outside Singapore.

Mas Selamat, who was wanted by the Singaporean authorities in connection with planned attacks on the Changi airport, was arrested by the Indonesian police on Bintan island in 2006 and then sent back to Singapore. But he escaped from Singapore's Whitley road detention center later February this year.
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2008-07-19 Southeast Asia
THAT smirking Bali bomber Amrozi woke this morning and prayed to his god. It's a good thing that his god won't be able to stop Indonesian justice wiping the smile from that face.

Amrozi today is on an ever-thinning precipice of life. One morning soon, a dozen Indonesian marksmen will march him, his bother Ali and their mate Imam Samudra, into the jungle, place targets over their hearts, and fire into their upper bodies. They will die quickly, but not soon enough.

You can already hear the wailing - unquestionably sincere - of those in Australia opposed to capital punishment. But the Bali bombers' deaths will be a long way from the judicial executions that create so much debate here. You cannot compare extinguishing the lives of Amrozi and co with, say, hanging Melbourne's jailed serial killers Peter Dupas or Paul Denyer.

While killing the Bali bombers will hardly be a deterrent to other Islamist extremists - those who boast they love death as much as we in the West love life - it will be an insurance policy of sorts.

Indonesia is the only living proof that free thought - the administrative expression of which is democracy - and Islam can cohabit.

And although its pluralist society, with 200 million Muslims, the greatest number living anywhere on earth, can call itself a qualified democracy, its strained economy and fractured Islamic groupings don't guarantee a stable future. The illiterate poor of Indonesia - like everything in a nation of 250 million, there are plenty - are hardly beyond the grasp of locally grown Islamist fanatics whose beliefs are probably being shaped by Arab language classes funded by harder-line and monied Middle East states.

Jemaah Islamiyah survives and its many members are sure to be taking heart from that malevolent cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who described us non-Muslims on March 24 as "worms, snakes and maggots", and justifiable targets for extermination. Bashir is insane and his high profile since being linked to the Bali bombs cramps his style. But he's not alone.

The balance of the oil equation for Indonesia recently slipped into the red, which is why it quit OPEC - that "E" standing for "exporting".

And with its huge population spread across many of the archipelago's 17,000 islands, and the logistical expenses involved in transport, communications and power generation, Indonesia does not have the growth potential of China or India. Indonesia remains an unsettled democracy, stricken by corruption, with many tens of millions of its inhabitants earning less than $2 a day, fertile ground for resentful Islamists pushing for it to become a theocracy. And should that ever happen, the Bali bombers would be liberated, hailed as heroes, and given positions of influence to spread their black agenda.

Just look at the reception in Lebanon on Thursday for returned terrorist Samir Kantar. He shot Israeli Danny Haran in front of his daughter so that it would be the last thing she'd see. Then he smashed her skull against a rock with his rifle butt. His countrymen lined the streets waving banners, flying flags and singing to welcome him home. A national holiday was declared.

Killing the Bali bombers is not so much capital punishment, as a strategic, surgical strike against Jemaah Islamiyah.
Alan Howe is HWT executive editor
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2008-07-08 Southeast Asia
Al-Qaida-linked militants in the Philippines continue to get significant funding from foreign donors despite a crackdown aimed at stopping the flow of cash that finances bombings and other attacks, two terrorism experts said Monday. 'There is no evidence that terrorist financial flows to the Philippines have dried up,' Rohan Gunaratna, a Singapore-based terrorism expert, told reporters on the sidelines of a Manila conference on terror financing.

But he said the militants also use extortion and kidnappings for ransom as a means of supplementing the foreign funding, which isn't always enough to carry out all of their planned terrorist attacks in the country.

Philippine military and police officials have said that the Abu Sayyaf, a small but brutal group accused of involvement in bombings, beheadings and kidnappings, suffered a major financial setback when its chief, Khaddafy Janjalani, and his presumed successor, Abu Sulaiman, were killed in 2006 and 2007, respectively. The two leaders had established connections with Middle Eastern and Asian financiers, something most other Abu Sayyaf commanders have failed to do, the officials said.

The fundraising task, however, has been taken over by a little-known Abu Sayyaf commander, Yassir Igasan, who developed links with Middle Eastern financiers when he went there for terrorist training in the past, said Gunaratna, author of 'Inside al-Qaida: The Global Network of Terror.'

'As long as he is alive and as long he is active, the Abu Sayyaf will continue to get money from Saudi Arabia,' Gunaratna said of Igasan.

Top Indonesian terrorism suspect Umar Patek, who has been hiding in the southern Philippines, also gets funds from Indonesia-based groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah that are used by the Abu Sayyaf and other Muslim rebel groups for terrorist training and attacks in the Philippines, Gunaratna said.

National police chief Avelino Razon declined to comment on Gunaratna's claim, saying a lack of information on terror financing has made it hard for authorities to assess the flow of money to local militants. But he said that in the past some of those funds have been monitored and frozen with the help of foreign intelligence agencies.
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2008-07-07 Southeast Asia
The arrests last week of 10 suspected Islamic militants severely weakened Indonesia's terrorist movement, the country's foreign minister said Sunday. The police operation on northern Sumatra island sent suspected terrorists fleeing, reflecting the efficiency of Indonesia's security forces, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda told reporters on the sidelines of an Islamic economic meeting in Malaysia.

The arrests on Sumatra also highlighted the lingering threat in Indonesia, which has been hit by a string of suicide bombings in recent years, including the 2002 Bali nightclub attacks that thrust the world's most populous Muslim nation onto the front lines in the war on terrorism. Many of the 240 people killed in those blasts, blamed on regional militant network Jemaah Islamiyah, were foreign tourists.

'The fact that we have uncovered terrorist activities and that we did not experience any terrorist incidents in the past two years means our security is working very well,' Wirayuda said. 'We have uncovered various terrorist cells ... meaning they are within our reach.'

It is unclear whether the terrorist movement has been 'crippled, but the fact is they are on the run,' he said. 'We are encouraged and feel more secure.'
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2008-07-03 Southeast Asia
A Singaporean who met several times with Usama bin Laden was among nine terror suspects arrested Wednesday in western Indonesia, police and a local TV station said. A cache of powerful bombs packed with bullets was also seized in the raid.

The men had been planning an attack on Western tourists, but decided to postpone their strike after realizing their intended target on Sumatra Island could result in too many Indonesian casualties, TVOne quoted anti-terror police as saying. They were considering an attack in the capital, Jakarta, instead.

Police told TVOne the 20 bombs seized Wednesday in Palembang, a coastal city on Sumatra, were packed with bullets, probably to maximize the impact of the blast. In the past, terrorists have been known to use ball-bearings.

Only the nationality of one suspect — the Singaporean — was identified. He was said to have met with bin Laden on several occasions, but TVOne provided no further details. The other men allegedly had ties with Southeast Asia's most wanted terror suspect, Noordin Top, who is believed to head a breakaway faction of Jemaah Islamiyah that is committed to Al Qaeda style attacks on Western, civilian targets. Recently arrested Muslim militants have said he may have fled the country.

Police documents obtained by The Associated Press indicated that JI has maintained the ability and desire to forge international links despite a crackdown that has resulted in the arrest and convictions of hundreds of terrorists.

The nine suspects detained Wednesday will be transferred to Jakarta within 24 hours.

Police spokesman Abubakar Nataprawira confirmed the arrests and the recovery of explosives, but provided few other details, saying the investigation was ongoing. Another police source, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, confirmed however that nine were detained and eight bombs seized.
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2008-06-21 Southeast Asia
Two Muslim rebel groups operating in the country, including one engaged in peace talks with the government, have provided sanctuary and helped Indonesian terror suspects sought by the United States elude arrest for years, according to an interrogation report of a captured Indonesian militant.
Are these the tolerant Muslims at the religious conference?
Among several Indonesians hiding in the South are Umar Patek and Dulmatin, suspects in the deadly 2002 Bali nightclub bombings who have trained local insurgents in bomb making, according to the Indonesian government report.

Mohammad Khildan Baihaqi, a suspected member of the Indonesia-based militant group Jemaah Islamiyah>Jemaah Islamiyah who was captured by troops in Davao Oriental province in February, told Indonesian authorities that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf helped him and other Indonesians gain sanctuary and protection in the South, the report said.

Baihaqi’s disclosures show that Indonesian militants and Filipino insurgents continue to maintain active ties in Mindanao, organizing terror training and plotting new attacks. The Armed Forces of the Philippines has said that about 40 Indonesian Islamic radicals have been on the run from US-backed offensives, looking for a way to escape back home.

Indonesian authorities were allowed to interrogate Baihaqi, who is in Army custody in Manila. “The Indonesian mujahedeen or voluntary fighters in Mindanao were under the protection of the MILF and the ASG (Abu Sayyaf group),” the report quoted Baihaqi as saying.

Mindanao, home to the Muslim minority, has seen decades of bloody Islamic separatist rebellions by several groups. The Abu Sayyaf, blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist group for conducting bombings, kidnappings and beheadings, was implicated in the recent kidnapping of recently freed popular TV news anchor Ces Drilon and her two-man crew.

The MILF and Abu Sayyaf had separately collaborated with Indonesian Islamic radicals in plotting new attacks, said Baihaqi, who the report said was involved in a plan to bomb a Roman Catholic cathedral in Mindanao when captured. Baihaqi said he was given sanctuary by the Abu Sayyaf in their mountain strongholds on Jolo island in January-September 2006 and then lived with MILF guerrillas in Davao del Norte, near where he was arrested.

The MILF, a large rebel group involved in on-and-off peace negotiations with the government, has denied any links with foreign terror groups. It forged an agreement with the government in 2005 to help local troops capture criminals, including al-Qaida-linked militants. Rebel spokesperson Eid Kabalu said yesterday that Baihaqi might have been given sanctuary by MILF members who have broken away and allied themselves with foreign Islamic militants.
"Wudn't us."
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2008-06-20 Southeast Asia
(Xinhuanet) -- One of three Islamic militants up for execution in Indonesia for the 2002 Bali bombings said in an interview that al-Qaida would be 'very likely' to carry out revenge attacks if authorities kill him, a magazine reported.

Imam Samudra and two other Indonesian militants were sentenced to death in 2003 for their roles in the suicide attacks that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, at two nightclubs on the resort island of Bali. The three — who have admitted to planning and taking part in the strikes — are awaiting a final legal appeal to their sentences.

Samudra was interviewed in prison by a local hard-line Islamist magazine, Jihadmagz. Asked whether al-Qaida would send operatives to Indonesia to launch attacks if he were executed, he said, 'That is very likely. God willing, hopefully that will happen. Everyone knows that the armies of Allah are (everywhere).'

The magazine, which has a circulation of 10,000, hit newsstands in Indonesia last week.

The Bali attacks were carried out by members and associates of Jemaah Islamiyah>Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian militant group whose leaders came under the influence of al-Qaida in the late 1990s when they trained and fought in Afghanistan. Since then, militants have launched three more attacks on Western targets in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation. The latest attack, against restaurants in Bali in 2005, killed 12.
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2008-06-07 Terror Networks
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
For Australia the trajectory of terrorism in Southeast Asia is of particular concern. And in many ways developments in Southeast Asia mirror those globally. Considerable progress has been made in counter-terrorism efforts. The political will to deal with terrorism is stronger today than in the aftermath of the first Bali bombings in October 2002. Better cooperation is occurring among security forces and intelligence agencies.

Capacity building programs by Australia and others are bearing fruit. Key leaders have been arrested or killed. I have mentioned the arrest of Hambali, the main link between Jemaah Islamiyah and Al Qaida and a key player in the first Bali attack. Last year Azahari — also closely involved in the Bali 1 bombing — was killed. And around 300 Jemaah Islamiyah members have been arrested in Indonesia. Nevertheless, Jemaah Islamiyah remains a capable and resilient terrorist group. It retains links with Al Qaida but it is not dependent on Al Qaida for either funding or operational support. Under pressure it has become more decentralized in its structure and operational planning. But its strategic objectives and its targeting of Australia and the West are unchanged. Jemaah Islamiyah has continued to carry out attacks, most recently the second Bali bombing which targeted Westerners including Australians, but actually killed many more Indonesians. Jemaah Islamiyah can draw on a pool of trained bomb makers and a larger pool of sympathizers who can provide logistical support for a core of operational planners. This situation will not change soon, despite the general abhorrence of the overwhelming majority of Indonesians towards Jemaah Islamiyah’s methods and goals. There are several other issues to which we must play close attention in Southeast Asia. One of the key elements of Al Qaida’s method has been to globalize what are essentially local disputes and portray what are nationalist or ethnic conflicts as being part of a more important, and strategic global jihad. So we need to be alert to whether Al Qaida or Jemaah Islamiyah are succeeding in injecting themselves into the separatist conflicts in the southern Philippines and southern Thailand.

In the Philippines this is already the case with Jemaah Islamiyah’s links into the southern Philippines giving it a longer strategic reach. In return for safe haven and a certain strategic depth, Jemaah Islamiyah has provided groups in the south with terrorist training. This relationship has extended the capabilities of all participating groups. In contrast we have seen little evidence so far that Jemaah Islamiyah or Al
Qaida has managed to inject itself into the separatist conflict in southern Thailand, although the longer the conflict continues, the greater opportunity there will be for outside groups to interfere.

The war against terror is a misleading metaphor because it suggests there will be a decisive moment when we know whether we face victory or defeat. The reality is that this will be a long and incremental struggle waged on many fronts. Part of the struggle will involve finding and eliminating terrorists and constraining their support bases. But at a broader level it will also involve blunting the appeal of violent extremism by giving potential recruits a greater sense of hope than the nihilism which lies at the core of terrorist psychology.

It is in this area that economic and political factors intersect with the drivers of terrorism. Open societies delivering on the economic aspirations of their citizens are not a guarantee against terrorism. But they will go a large way towards blunting the appeal of extremists. Democracies are more likely to be responsive to the grievances that can lead people to adopt violence. They are more likely to implement the economic reforms which will not only increase the size of the pie but share it more equitably. In the long run democracy can break the political and economic hold of narrow elites, allow the kind of civil society that permits free expression, and reduce the corruption that plagues authoritarian societies. But democratization cannot be an immediate panacea. Firstly, groups like Al Qaida are not going to lay down their arms and participate in a democratic process. For Zawahiri and Zarqawi, democracy puts human law ahead of ‘God’s law’ and is therefore abhorrent. They hate Islamist groups that participate in the democratic process as much as they hate the Middle East’s current regimes. Terrorists would probably still target those governments — even with such Islamist groups in power — just as they target the democratically elected government in Iraq. Since new democracies would probably be supported by the West, then the West too will remain a target.

Secondly, democratization can in the short term increase strategic uncertainty. Due to the lack of secular or liberal political parties in the Middle East, it is probable that Islamist parties of some stripe would win many elections. And we simply don’t know what a group like the Muslim Brotherhood would be like in power. The recent success of Hamas in the Palestinian elections illustrates these points. Certainly one can argue that the responsibility of governing should be a moderating influence in the long term. But whether this turns out to be the case in the short to medium term in the Middle East is by no means certain. And thirdly, radicals can exploit political space in democracies, especially newly emerging ones: space which authoritarian regimes would deny them. A militant Islamist fringe is now present in post-Suharto democratic Indonesia; a fringe which seeks to intimidate mainstream Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and parts of which is feeding recruits to Jamaah Islamiyah. Few Indonesians agree with their ideology, and even fewer with their methods. But enough are at least sympathizing with the Islamists’ narrative of Muslim victim hood and “Western conspiracy” to make counterterrorism co-operation with Western countries politically sensitive.

While terrorism - even in the form of suicide attacks — is not an Islamic phenomenon by definition, it cannot be ignored that the lion’s share of terrorist acts and the most devastating of them in recent years have been perpetrated in the name of Islam. This fact has sparked a fundamental debate both in the West and within the Muslim world regarding the link between these acts and the teachings of Islam. Most Western analysts are hesitant to identify such acts with the bona fide teachings of one of the world’s great religions and prefer to view them as a perversion of a religion that is essentially peace-loving and tolerant. Western leaders have reiterated time and again that the war against terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. It is a war against evil.

Modern international Islamist terrorism is a natural offshoot of twentieth-century Islamic fundamentalism. The “Islamic Movement” emerged in the Arab world and British-ruled India as a response to the dismal state of Muslim society in those countries: social injustice, rejection of traditional mores, acceptance of foreign domination and culture. It perceives the malaise of modern Muslim societies as having strayed from the “straight path” and the solution to all ills in a return to the original mores of Islam. The problems addressed may be social or political: inequality, corruption, and oppression. But in traditional Islam — and certainly in the worldview of the Islamic fundamentalist — there is no separation between the political and the religious. Islam is, in essence, both religion and regime and no area of human activity is outside its remit. Be the nature of the problem as it may, “Islam is the solution.”

The underlying element in the radical Islamist worldview is a historic and dichotomist: Perfection lies in the ways of the Prophet of Islam and the events of his time; therefore, religious innovations, philosophical relativism, and intellectual or political pluralism are anathema. In such a worldview, there can exist only two camps — Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb — which are pitted against each other until the final victory of Islam. These concepts are carried to their extreme conclusion by the radicals; however, they have deep roots in mainstream Islam.

While the trigger for “Islamic awakening” was frequently the meeting with the West, Islamic-motivated rebellions against colonial powers rarely involved individuals from other Muslim countries or broke out of the confines of the territories over which they were fighting. Until the 1980s, most fundamentalist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood were inward-looking; Western superiority was viewed as the result of Muslims having forsaken the teachings of the Prophet. Therefore, the remedy was, first, “re-Islamization” of Muslim society and restoration of an Islamic government, based on Islamic law [Shariah]. In this context, jihad was aimed mainly against “apostate” Muslim governments and societies, while the historic offensive jihad of the Muslim world against the infidels was put in abeyance [at least until the restoration of the caliphate].
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2008-06-06 Terror Networks

The List: The Worst Places to Be a Terrorist

Fighting transnational terrorism often involves making unsavory choices between protecting civil rights and providing security. The following regimes have opted for the latter and are definitely not the kind of places you want to get caught if you’re plotting some terrorist mayhem.


Key tactics: Though many Americans view them as softies when it comes to the war on terror, the French actually have some of the world’s toughest and arguably most effective antiterrorism laws. In France, terrorist investigations are overseen by a special unit of magistrates with unprecedented powers to monitor suspects, enlist the help of other branches of law enforcement, and detain suspects for days without charges. Additionally, prosecutors have a mandate to pursue terrorists abroad if the suspect or victim is French. France is also not shy about deporting Muslim clerics it views as threatening. It shouldn’t be surprising that French law enforcement is well set up for counterterrorism: France was the first European country to fall victim to Middle Eastern terrorism during the Algerian war in the 1950s.

In action: France has not had a terrorist attack on its soil since 9/11, but it claims to have foiled several, including a chemical attack planned by Chechen operatives against Russian targets in Paris, a planned bombing of one of Paris’s airports, and a 9/11-like airline plot against the Eiffel Tower.

Concerns: French civil libertarians have raised concerns about detentions that, in some cases, can last for years without trials. Allegations of police brutality are also common in France’s predominantly Muslim suburbs.


Key tactics: Since the November 2005 hotel bombings carried out by al Qaeda in Amman, Jordan’s King Abdullah II has made it a priority to stop the infiltration of terrorists from neighboring Iraq and Syria. Jordan’s intelligence service, the General Intelligence Department, has exploited close ties with Sunni tribes in Iraq’s Anbar province to provide its U.S. and Israeli counterparts with valuable intelligence about the structure and financing on terrorist organizations. Jordan also takes pride in the prowess of its Special Forces units and has opened a special operations training center to teach counterterrorism tactics to elite military units from around the world.

In action: It’s widely suspected that Jordanian spies tipped off the U.S. military to the location of al Qaeda in Iraq’s Jordanian-born leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leading to the U.S.-Iraqi military raid that killed him.

Concerns: Jordan has been criticized by human rights groups for its alleged participation in the “rendition” of U.S. terrorist suspects for torture.


Key tactics: No less an authority than al Qaeda’s No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri recently said of Egypt’s State Security, “They know more about the Islamic movements than many of those movements’ members know about them.” Zawahiri’s followers have good reason to worry. After a wave of terrorist attacks and political victories for the Muslim Brotherhood in the early 1990s, Hosni Mubarak’s government opted for a strategy of ruthless repression in combating the threat from terrorism and political Islam. The state’s strategy is to inhibit the Brotherhood from participating in the political process while carrying out wide-ranging arrests of militants and routinely using torture on prisoners.

In action: During the 1990s, the Egyptian regime essentially eliminated the domestic threat of groups such as the Islamic Group and Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad, largely by attacking their bases of operations and blocking their ability to transform into legitimate political movements. Overreaches by the groups themselves contributed greatly to their downfall.

Concerns: Human Rights Watch has complained that the Egyptian regime’s liberal use of torture simply leads prisoners to “confess to crimes real or imagined.” Analysts also question the strategy of repressing the Brotherhood, which they say only strengthens the group’s appeal.


Key tactics: Singapore, which is 15 percent Muslim, has had enormous success in combating regional terrorist groups such as the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah through a combination of tough Special Forces tactics and savvy rehabilitation programs. After 9/11, the island country strengthened its crackdown on terrorist funding, and it recently passed legislation giving the Army wide-ranging powers to pursue terrorists domestically. But Singapore’s approach goes beyond enforcement. Since 2003, a landmark government program has aimed to rehabilitate arrested militants. The state employs volunteer clerics who counsel detainees and rebut extremist arguments. The United States has studied the approach as a possible alternative to indefinite detention.

In action: A major operation in 2001 resulted in the arrest of 15 Jemaah Islamiyah operatives who were planning terrorist attacks within Singapore. Around 70 people have been detained since then, and about one third have been released after rehabilitation. Police continue monitoring those who are released.

Concerns: Democracy activists argue that the Singaporean government plays up the terrorist threat to justify its authoritarianism. The police also suffered a major embarrassment in February when a Jemaah Islamiyah militant escaped through the bathroom window of a detention center.


Key tactics: In 1999, Boris Yeltsin elevated an obscure midlevel politician named Vladimir Putin to the rank of prime minister and entrusted him with putting down a raging insurgency in the breakaway region of Chechnya. Ever since, counterinsurgency and counterterrorism have been the hallmarks of Putin’s tenure, and he has largely built his popularity around his success in these areas. Russia has carried out a ruthless campaign of military suppression in Chechnya, and when it hasn’t been attacking militants, it has joined with them by elevating former rebel Ramzan Kadyrov to the presidency of the now largely peaceful region. Russian security forces were also willing to put down terrorist sieges by force even at the expense of high civilian casualties.

In action: After Chechen rebels took a Moscow theater hostage in 2002, Russian Special Forces pumped an unknown gas into the theater’s ventilation system and then stormed the building, killing nearly all the hostage-takers along with hundreds of hostages.

Concerns: Though Russia has largely succeeded in pacifying Chechnya, the neighboring regions of Dagestan and North Ossetia remain havens for militant groups. The government was widely criticized for the secrecy surrounding the Nord-Ost and Beslan school operations and the high number of hostages killed during the rescues.

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2008-05-20 Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia's most wanted terror suspect, Noordin Top, may have evaded a massive manhunt and fled Indonesia, according to police documents obtained by The Associated Press.

A militant who was arrested and extradited to Indonesia told police that an Algerian who helped him escape from the country also said that Top had managed to flee, according to the police interrogation documents.

A senior anti-terror officer said Monday that police were still "crosschecking" the information with other sources. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the nature of his job.

Top is accused of directing the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings and three other attacks on Western targets in Indonesia that have together killed more than 240 people, most of them foreign tourists.

If confirmed, Top's escape would be a blow to Indonesia, which has been praised for its successes in the fight against terrorism. It would also raise worrying questions about Top's current location and future plans.

Top, a Malaysian national, has been on the run since 2002. Police have arrested several of his aides or couriers and often claimed to be close to catching him, but over the last 18 months the trail has apparently gone cold.

The claim that he has fled is contained in police investigation reports into two senior Indonesian members of the Jemaah Islamiyah militant network who fled the country on a mission to link up with terrorist groups in the Middle East. They were arrested en route in Malaysia and extradited to Indonesia in late March.

Abu Husna and Agus Purwantoro told investigators an Algerian contact in Jakarta helped them obtain airplane tickets, fake passports and gave them contacts in Syria, according to the investigation reports.

While discussing Abu Husna's planned journey, the Algerian is quoted as saying: "Do you know that Noordin Top has escaped?"

Husna says he did not and asks Jafar how he knew this. Jafar replies that it is a secret.

Sidney Jones, a researcher for the International Crisis Group and a leading international authority on militants in Southeast Asia, said it was "plausible" that Top had managed to escape.

"If it is true, it's a mixed blessing for Indonesia," she said. "It would mean he was no longer around to recruit young Indonesians for possible attacks, but it would also mean someone with intimate knowledge of Southeast Asia was plugged back into the international jihadi network that could bring fresh attention to the region."

Noordin Top is believed to head a breakaway faction of Jemaah Islamiyah committed to al-Qaida style attacks on Western, civilian targets. In a video seized from a safehouse in 2005, he is shown pledging allegiance to al-Qaida and vowing more attacks to avenge Muslim deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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2008-05-06 Southeast Asia
Indonesian police arrested a member of Jemaah Islamiyah, the Southeast Asian terrorist group, for his suspected role in a suicide bombing on the resort island of Bali in 2005, Agence France-Presse said.

The arrested man, Faiz Fauzi, 28, was a close aide to Malaysian Noordin Mohammad Top and helped Top plan the 2002 suicide bombings on Bali which killed 202 people, 88 of them Australians, AFP said, citing a police spokesman.

He was also an associate of Azahari Husin, another JI leader, who was killed in November 2005 in Malang, East Java, Indonesian police spokesman Abubakar Nataprawira said.

Jemaah Islamiyah, which is linked to al-Qaeda, is blamed for a 2004 bomb attack outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta that killed nine people, a Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta in 2003 that killed 12 and a second attack in Bali in 2005, when three suicide bombers killed themselves and 20 other people.

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2008-05-03 Southeast Asia
(dpa) - A senior Muslim rebel leader and his son were wounded in an attack by government troops on an Abu Sayyaf camp on a southern Philippine island, a regional military spokesman said Thursday. Isnilon Hapilon and his son Tabari were injured in the fighting Wednesday in Indanan town on Jolo Island, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila, Major Eugene Batarra said.

Hapilon, one of the Abu Sayyaf leaders wanted by the the United States, and his son were able to escape into the jungle, Batarra said. The major added that the rebels suffered heavy casualties in Wednesday's attack, which led to the seizure of a guerrilla bomb-making facility. About 200 guerrillas were in the camp during the attack, including militants with the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) regional terrorist group, he said.

The Abu Sayyaf and JI have been blamed for the most deadly terrorist attacks in the country. Both groups have been linked to the al Qaeda terrorist network.
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2008-05-03 Southeast Asia
(AKI) - The Indonesian vice-president, Jusuf Kalla, says the government cannot ban the militant Islamic group, Jemaah Islamiyah, because it does not exist. "Jemaah Islamiyah does not exist as an organisation and therefore it cannot be banned," said Kalla in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

"How can we impose a ban? Who is the [group's] president? Where are its headquarters? Who are its members?" asked Kalla.

Jemaah Islamiyah is the terrorist group blamed for most of the deadly attacks that have hit Southeast Asia in the last few years. These include the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people and injured 209 others.

The group is considered a terrorist organisation in the US, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore but not in Indonesia where it enjoys the support of a minority, particularly those who come from the central-eastern island of Java.

Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. The vast majority of the 200 million Muslims in Indonesia practise a moderate version of Islam.

Earlier this month, Indonesian chief judge Wahjono declared JI a "prohibited organisation" in court as he sentenced two leading JI members, Abu Dujana and Zarkasih, to 15 years in prison for terror-related offences.

Some analysts had hoped that the statement by the judge, the first of its kind, would push the Indonesian government to ban JI.

Kalla said that banning JI is a secondary issue and that Indonesia had achieved good results in its fight against terrorism. "Our approach includes taking an iron fist with the terrorists, improving economic conditions and spreading a moderate message in the Islamic environment," he said. "We have had great results, a fact recognised all over the world."

Hundreds of JI members have been arrested in Indonesia since 2002, where according to some experts, the threat posed by the terrorist group has been minimised.

Experts have also often noted that Indonesia has dealt with terrorism in the country without introducing tough laws.
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2008-05-01 Southeast Asia
Military officials say about 300 marine and army commandoes battled 200 militants overnight, seizing the camp on Jolo island early Wednesday morning. A heavy artillery and mortar bombardment preceded the attack. There was no immediate word on casualties or on whether any militants were captured.

Commanders describe the strike as a "surgical assault" and said it was ordered after intelligence indicated an unusual gathering of top Abu Sayyaf leaders - an indication that they were planning a major attack. Another important figure, Umar Patek, of the Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah group, was also thought to be at the base.

The military says it found bomb-making supplies in the camp.

Abu Sayyaf is believed to have about 300 to 400 fighters - down from a peak of about one-thousand several years ago.

But military spokesman Major Eugene Batara says completely wiping out the group is hard because of the dense jungle on Jolo, and the militants' ability to blend in with the local community. "It is hard for us to get to Abu Sayyaf because they are very mobile and the terrain in Jolo is really very difficult for the armed forces to go in. It is heavily forested and the terrain is in favor of the enemy because they live in that place," he explained.
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2008-04-29 Southeast Asia
An Indonesian court sentenced an Islamic militant to eight years in jail Monday for providing shelter to one of the leaders of the feared Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah. Presiding Judge Haswandi said Arif Syaifudin also helped Abu Dujana transfer up to US$1,100 (€700) to militants in the Philippines on at least eight occasions. The money was apparently intended for terrorist activities in that country's restive south, he said.

Jemaah Islamiyah>Jemaah Islamiyah and its allies are accused of carrying out a string of suicide bombings in Indonesia, including 2002 attacks on Bali island, 2003 and 2004 strikes on the J.W. Marriott Hotel and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, and 2005 suicide bombings on three Bali restaurants. More than 240 people were killed in those attacks, many of them foreign tourists.

Dujana, the group's military commander, was not linked to any of those bombings. But he was sentenced earlier this month to 15 years in prison for conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, harboring fugitives and stockpiling illegal arms.

In handing down Monday's eight-year sentence, Judge Haswandi, who goes by a single name, told the South Jakarta District Court that Syaifudin failed to report Dujana's whereabouts to authorities. He said the 29-year-old militant also helped Dujana communicate online with Muslim hard-liners in Indonesia and abroad.
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2008-04-23 Southeast Asia
Up until now it's not been an offence in Indonesia to belong to the organisation behind the Bali bombings. Indeed there was even talk about whether Jemaah Islamiyah actually existed and so how could it be possibly banned or anyone be charged with being a member of it. Now a court in Jakarta has declared Jemaah Islamiyah to be a "forbidden corporation" as it sentenced two senior JI leaders each to 15 years jail.

Analysts believe the decision could open the door to more prosecutions. From Jakarta, Indonesia Correspondent Geoff Thompson reports.

GEOFF THOMPSON: Jemaah Islamiyah's militant head, Abu Dujana is sentenced to 15 years gaol is South Jakarta's district court. Receiving the same sentence, despite prosecutor's demands for life terms and the JI leader who is known as Zarkasih. Both men were arrested last year in raids assisted by the Australian Federal Police.

Both were found guilty of concealing weapons, ammunition and explosives with the intention of carrying out terrorist acts. Abu Dujana was also found guilty of organising funding and aiding and abetting terrorists including Indonesia's most wanted JI fugitive, Nordan Mohammed Top (phoentic).

More unexpected was the court's declaration that through the trials of these two men, JI had been proven to exist, with a structure, funding and board members and was therefore a forbidden corporation. The international crisis group's JI specialist - Sydney Jones.

SYDNEY JONES: This decision comes closer to banning JI as an organisation and closer to declaring it an illegal organisations than anything we've had thus far.

GEOFF THOMPSON: Jemaah Islamiyah has long been prescribed as a terrorist organisation by the United Nations but Indonesian ministers and even vice-president Jusuf Kalla have said that JI's secretiveness made it impossible to ban.

The University of Indonesia's professor of criminology Adrianus Meliala is one of those lawyers who believes the ruling will not greatly change the already aggressive pursuit of JI members by Indonesia's national police.

ADRIANUS MELIALA: The police is now, you know, following their own, their own mind. There is a first, waiting for the resident, waiting for the political signal before conducting aggressive method against JI as well as its followers.

GEOFF THOMPSON: The recent arrests in Malaysia and deportation to Indonesia of two more senior JI members, Abu Husna and Dr Agus Purwanto, is expected to reveal more about JI's membership.

SYDNEY JONES: If we get more names and information coming out of the arrest that was announced last week, this may make it easier for the police to actually arrest and charge individuals who are also members of the central command.

GEOFF THOMPSON: Analysts say a decision like this back in 2002 or 2003 would have made it easier to prosecute JI's founding leaders like Abu Bakar Bashir.
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2008-04-22 Southeast Asia
Two leaders of the feared Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah were sentenced Monday to 15 years in jail, dealing yet another blow to the group blamed for a string of deadly bombings in Indonesia.

Abu Dujana, the group's military commander, and Zarkasih, who acted briefly as its caretaker leader, were found guilty of conspiracy to commit terrorist attacks, harboring fugitives and stockpiling illegal arms. The rulings were handed down in separate, lengthy trials at the South Jakarta District Court.

Jemaah Islamiyah and its allies are accused of carrying out the 2002 bombings on Indonesia's resort island of Bali, a 2003 attack on the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, a 2004 attack on the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, and triple suicide bombings in 2005 on restaurants in Bali. Many of the more than 240 killed in the attacks were foreign tourists. Neither Dujana nor Zarkasih — both of whom faced possible death sentences — were charged in connection with those blasts.

Dujana's conviction was over recent attacks on Christians on the eastern island of Sulawesi, which was plagued by religious violence from 1999 to 2001. He has condemned al-Qaida-style bombings, arguing they were counterproductive to the group's reported aim of establishing Islamic law across the region.

Presiding Judge Wahjono, who like many Indonesians uses one name, sentenced Dujana to 15 years in prison, saying his recent public condemnations of terrorism had been taken into account. He also said he was convinced Dujana could play a role in helping reform other jailed terrorists. Asked if he would appeal the ruling, Dujana, 37, said, "I'll think about it."

Judge Eddy Risdianto said Zarkasih, 45, was given a reduced sentence because he only served as a two-month caretaker leader of Jemaah Islamiyah in 2005, not the emir as had been alleged. The judge also cited his good behavior in prison.

The two judges also labeled Jemaah Islamiyah a terrorist group, a move that could pave the way for the government to ban the group, something it has previously said would be difficult because it was not a "formal organization."

Even without a ban on the network, the government's crackdown has met with huge success, resulting in hundreds of arrests in recent years, thanks partly to forensic and technical help from foreign governments.

Jemaah Islamiyah was formed in the early 1990s as an offshoot of another militant network stretching back decades. Its core leadership fought or trained in Afghanistan and some came under the influence of al-Qaida.

A regional crackdown following the Bali attacks netted hundreds of members and sympathizers, severely weakening the group. Former members and analysts say a hard-core faction that carried out the bombings no longer operates under Jemaah Islamiyah's command.
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2008-04-22 Southeast Asia
An unsecured bathroom window and complacent guards allowed a top terror suspect to flee a high-security prison in February, Singapore's deputy prime minister said Monday.

In announcing the results of a probe into the embarrassing escape, Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng said Mas Selamat Kastari, who allegedly once plotted to hijack an airplane and crash it into the city-state's international airport, had planned his Feb. 27 escape over time.

Speaking in Parliament, Wong said Mas Selamat climbed out of a ventilation window of a toilet cubicle before a scheduled weekly visit with his family. The window did not have a grill on it, Wong said.

"In my view, the security weakness of this window is the single most crucial factor which enabled Mas Selamat to escape," Wong said.

Wong said there was no video recording of the escape since closed-circuit television coverage of the area was being upgraded to add motion detectors.

The escape triggered a monthlong nationwide manhunt in which police, special operations officers, elite Gurkha guards and soldiers combed the island nation's forests. Border security was tightened.

Wong said the probe found no evidence suggesting that it was an inside job, but said the guards should have kept Mas Selamat in sight by preventing him from closing the cubicle door.

"Complacency, for whatever reason ... had crept into the operating culture" at the detention center, Wong said.

Wong said the officers responsible for Mas Selamat's escape would be disciplined, penalized and replaced.

Security breaches are rare in tightly controlled Singapore, an island nation of 4.5 million people that is a 45-minute boat ride from Indonesia where Mas Selamat is alleged to have links with the Jemaah Islamiyah terror network, blamed for a series of attacks that have killed more than 250 people since 2002.

In response to lawmakers' questions, Wong said authorities believed Mas Selamat had not managed to flee the country, and that there is a risk the fugitive would launch a retaliative attack on the city-state. "We consider him to be a key trigger in the terrorist network," he said. "If he could leave Singapore and connect back with his (Jemaah Islamiyah) friends, they could well launch a revenge attack."

Mas Selamat is said to be the former commander of the local arm of the Jemaah Islamiyah.
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2008-04-20 Southeast Asia
A Muslim preacher arrested by military and police operatives in Boracay Island last month was freed 8 p.m. Thursday, upon orders from a court which said it found no basis for his arrest. Muhammad Bani, 27, walked free from the detention center of the Army's Intelligence Service Group in Fort Bonifacio, 40 days after he was arrested by operatives of the Intelligence Service Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group. He was met by his family and lawyer, his elder brother, Mahdi, said.

Muhammad said he is fine. “I am just happy to be home,” he said during a telephone interview. His family had earlier said he was beaten and subjected to electric shocks while at the detention center but this was denied by military officials.

Muhammad and his friend Al-Midzbar Bunajal, 24, were arrested in Boracay Island March 8. The two were about to enter the Muslim community in Sitio Ambulong in Barangay Manoc-Manoc when heavily armed men in plainclothes allegedly forced them into a vehicle and sped away.

Muhammad was arrested because he was alleged to be “Abu Tony”, one of the 59 members of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group ordered arrested by the Pasig City Regional Trial Court for the 2001 Dos Palmas kidnapping. The AFP has also accused Muhammad of links to international terror groups including the Jemaah Islamiyah.

Bunajal was released two days after their arrest because there was no charge against him, AFP spokesperson Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro said in an earlier interview.
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2008-04-15 Southeast Asia
Indonesian police say they are questioning two top members of the regional terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah. Suspects Abdul Rohim and Agus Purwanto were returned to Indonesia after being arrested several weeks ago in Malaysia.

Terrorism expert Sidney Jones says Abdul Rohim is thought to have replaced Zarkasih as Jemaah Islamiyah leader (emir), after Zarkasih's arrest last year. "He was a member of the central command, he is rumored to possibly be the new emir, or the caretaker emir [of Jemaah Islamiyah] ... the last known position that he had was a head of education for the central command," Jones explained.

Jones says the arrests of the two Indonesians are significant and will further weaken the terrorist network. "This is big because it is two more influential people, with one in particular at the top ranks of Jemaah Islamiyah, meaning that the police have pretty clearly penetrated the structure," Jones said.

Police say Agus Purwanto is wanted in connection with violence in Poso, on Indonesia's eastern Sulawesi island, where sporadic violence between Muslims and Christians continues to break out periodically.

Jemaah Islamiyah has been blamed for a string of terrorist bombings in Indonesia including the 2002 bombings in Bali that claimed the lives of 202 people, many of them foreign tourists.

Following the Bali attacks, police have arrested more than 300 militants, severely weakening the group. Jones says Jemaah Islamiyah cannot keep replacing its lost leaders forever. "Now I think what we will find is that just as the earlier round of leaders was replaced, that there will probably be some effort to put new people in place for this, but it is a process that cannot continue indefinitely," Jones said.

The group says it wants to establish an Islamic state across much of Southeast Asia.

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2008-04-10 Southeast Asia
(AP) — Police seized hundreds of components for making bombs in a raid on a suspected terrorist hide-out in the northern Philippines, officials said Wednesday. The target of Tuesday's raid in Laguna province's Alaminos town was Khalid Pagayao, a Filipino allegedly tied to the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah network and a plot to bomb Western embassies in the Philippines. However, he was not in the house at the time of the raid, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno said. Police recovered 550 pieces of improvised blasting caps, 25 pieces of time fuse, two detonating cords and an undetermined amount of Tetryl, an explosive compound.

National police chief Avelino Razon said the raid was part of an investigation into recovered Arabic documents that revealed a plot to attack several Western embassies. Chief Superintendent Raul L. Castaneda, head of the police criminal investigation group, said Pagayao was wanted for his alleged involvement in the plot, which included plans to bomb the U.S., British, Australian and Israeli embassies in Manila. Castaneda said Pagayao's alleged role in the terrorist cell was not clear.

The raid followed the deportation Tuesday of two Jordanian men allegedly involved in the plot. They were arrested by security forces in February.
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2008-04-10 Southeast Asia
Officials of the Indonesian embassy are seeking more access to Mohammad Baehakki, the suspected Jemaah Islamiyah leader who was arrested in a joint police-military raid in Davao Oriental last Feb. 17. “We hope to be given more time to be able to speak to Baehakki. We wish to talk to him some more,” said F. Bernard Loesi, Indonesian vice consul based in this city.

Loesi told The STAR that authorities have confirmed Baehakki to be an Indonesian national, and that the Jakarta police has said that he, indeed, plays a important role in the JI movement. “Our authorities wish to talk to Baehakki more because we could get more (information) from him about the movement itself,” Loesi said.

Loesi said Baehakki has a wealth of information on the strength and activities of the JI not only in Indonesia but also in other parts of Southeast Asia.

Baehakki, 26, reportedly arrived in the Philippines in 2003 and was said to have immersed well with other Indonesians – numbering more than 7,000 – living in various parts of Southern Mindanao. Loesi said Philippine authorities have a way of extracting information from Baehakki, said to be the liaison for JI operations in Central and Southern Mindanao “But maybe we can also help to get more information from him,” Loesi said.

A bilateral defense agreement reportedly exists between the Philippines and Indonesia, which includes sharing of vital information, particularly on terrorism. Baehakki used the aliases of Tatoh, Salman and Latif while moving around Mindanao. He was arrested on the basis of a warrant issued by Kidapawan City Judge Francis Palmones Jr. Baehakki is facing multiple murder charges for his alleged involvement in the October 2006 bombing in Makilala, North Cotabato that claimed 10 lives.

Baehakki was arrested together with Cabiza Generoso and Mohar Abais Generoso, who were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives seized from them during the Feb. 17 raid. Authorities said Baehakki was preparing to launch another terrorist attack in Southern Mindanao prior to his arrest. Also seized from him were a number of cellular phones, a laptop and other electronic devices.
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2008-04-05 Southeast Asia
One of two alleged leaders of the Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) Wednesday denied involvement in a series of 2002 Bali night club bombings and other attacks allegedly committed by JI. At trial, Abu Dujana blamed the media for spreading rumors that he was connected with the terror attacks. He and fellow alleged JI figure Zarkasih first went to trial in December on charges of training and equipping JI members and conspiracy to commit terrorism. Last week, Indonesian prosecutors recommended that Zarkasih and Abu Dujana receive life sentences if convicted and asked the court to officially outlaw the group. It is not yet clear when the trial will conclude.

Dujana, who was arrested in June, previously confessed to leading the JI's military wing, which has claimed responsibility for the 2004 bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta and a series of 2005 Bali bombings. On Wednesday, he said this admission was made under duress.
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2008-04-05 Southeast Asia
Leadership and funding problems, along with incessant US-backed offensives, have prevented the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf from launching more major attacks, a Philippine military official said Thursday.

Abu Sayyaf factions have failed to choose a suitable replacement for rebel chieftain Khaddafy Janjalani and his successor, Abu Sulaiman, who were killed in clashes with US-backed Philippine forces in 2006 and 2007 respectively, Brigadier General Juancho Sabban said.

Janjalani and Sulaiman are believed to have united at least six Abu Sayyaf factions on the southern islands of Jolo and Basilan and developed relations with Asian and Middle Eastern financiers. A number of possible successors have been considered, according to intelligence officials.

"They haven't been able come up with a single, influential leader who can unite the different factions," Sabban told The Associated Press, citing intelligence information and monitoring of the rebels.

The Abu Sayyaf, blacklisted by Washington as a terror group for bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings, is believed to have launched its last major attack in February 2005 with simultaneous bombings in Manila and two southern cities that killed eight people and wounded more than 100.

An earlier military report that a little-known, foreign-educated commander, Yasser Igasan, had been picked to lead the Abu Sayyaf remains unconfirmed, said Sabban, who heads an anti-terrorism force based in Jolo, about 950 kilometers south of Manila.

Two other rebel commanders, one-armed Radulan Sahiron and young, violent Albader Parad, have not gained enough support and trust among members, he said.

During recent meetings of Abu Sayyaf commanders, arguments reportedly erupted over logistical and other concerns, Sabban said. They also apparently have problems with ammunition supplies and funds.

Indonesian militants from the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah group, who have been hiding with the Abu Sayyaf since 2003, were also constantly on the run, limiting their usefulness, he said.

Huge US rewards offered for two top Indonesian terror suspects, Umar Patek and Dulmatin, have severely constricted their movement.

"They have to constantly hide because even from within their ranks, some are eyeing such rewards," Sabban said.

American and Philippine experts have been conducting DNA tests to confirm if a cadaver dug up in Tawi Tawi province, near Jolo, in February was that of Dulmatin.

An Indonesian police official has said the body was not Dulmatin's, citing initial DNA test results, but Philippine police say they will make an official announcement after US experts complete the testing.

Efforts by Philippine and US forces to ease widespread poverty on Jolo -- a predominantly Muslim island where fewer than 200 Abu Sayyaf members hide in remote jungle camps -- are weaning communities away from the militants, Sabban said. Projects include repairing roads, schools and water supply systems.

"Anything from us used to be considered `haram,' " said Sabban, referring to the local term for forbidden things. "Now they're clamoring for roads, schools and development from us."
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2008-03-27 Southeast Asia
Prosecutors demanded life imprisonment Wednesday for two Indonesian militants alleged to be top leaders of the Southeast Asian Muslim extremist network Jemaah Islamiyah. Police say Zarkasih headed the group when he was arrested last year, while Abu Dujana has been described as its "military commander." Like many Indonesians, Zarkasih goes by a single name.

Members of Jemaah Islamiyah and their associates have been blamed for a string of bombings on Western targets in Indonesia in recent years, including the 2002 Bali nightclub attacks that killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.

Neither Zarkasih or Dujana have been indicted over a specific act of terrorism. They are being tried separately, but on similar charges of stockpiling weapons and explosives for use in eastern Indonesia, where Muslim extremists have carried out attacks on Christians and harbored fugitives.

Prosecutors told judges that both men deserved to be sentenced to life imprisonment. In response, Zarkasih said "no problem", while Dujana shook his head and said he was a victim of "tyranny."

Judges are expected to reach a verdict in both trials in the coming weeks.

Dujana, who was arrested last year on Java island along with Zarkasih, has previously admitted being a member of Jemaah Islamiyah, but on Wednesday denied any involvement with the network.
"Lies! All lies!"
Jemaah Islamiyah was an underground group formed in the late 1990s by Indonesians who had fought or trained in Afghanistan. The group's leadership encouraged its members to train for jihad or holy war and sent fighters to the southern Philippines.

Indonesia has arrested and convicted dozens of members but has not made membership of Jemaah Islamiyah a criminal offense. At least four militants are on death row for their involvement in the bombings campaign.
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2008-03-26 Southeast Asia
A 49-year-old Singaporean bus driver who lied about spotting an escaped terror suspect has been sentenced to 21 months in jail for giving false information to police, court officials said Tuesday.

A district judge said she had given Ng Hang Hai a stiff sentence to deter others from misleading police hunting for Mas Selamat Kastari, the alleged leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militant group in Singapore.

Despite a massive police manhunt, the 47-year-old Kastari remains at large nearly a month after his escape from a detention centre.

Ng had told police he saw a man resembling Kastari boarding his bus about four hours after the suspect escaped from detention on February 27, court documents showed.

He claimed the man was wearing blue jeans and slippers, bleeding from his left leg, walking with a limp and spoke Malay with an Indonesian accent. He told police the man had scratch marks on his forearms.

Ng pleaded guilty to two charges of giving false information to the police, saying he had lied in the hopes of receiving a monetary reward.

District Judge Hoo Sheau Peng said it was "fitting to send a clear message that reprehensible and malicious conduct such as that of the accused will not be tolerated."

Hoo said however the sentence should not deter others with useful information about Kastari to report to the police.

Kastari was accused of plotting to hijack a plane and crash it into Singapore's Changi Airport in 2001 but was never charged. He was being held under an internal security law which allows for detention without trial.
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2008-03-25 Southeast Asia
The Philippine Army officially admitted Monday that a Muslim cleric arrested in the island resort of Boracay in Aklan early this month, is currently under its custody. But Lt. Col. Ernesto Torres Jr., Army spokesman, belied reports that Muhammad Bani, 27, has been subjected to torture by his Army and police captors, as claimed by his family.
He probably wasn't. I wouldn't care in the least if he was.
Torres said that Bani’s arrest was a legitimate operation covered by an arrest warrant duly issued by the court. Bani, a Muslim cleric, and a friend Al-Midzbar Bunajal, 24, were arrested by a composite team from the Army Intelligence and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Boracay on March 8. Their arrest stemmed from persistent intelligence reports on the reported presence of Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the world-famed island resort.

But upon verifications Bunajal was released from Army custody two days later while Bani was subsequently detained at the Intelligence Service Group (ISG) at Fort Bonifacio. "Bani was detained because it was verified that he has a pending warrant for kidnapping charges filed before the Pasig City Regional Trial Court," Torres said.

He did not say however, if Bani and Bunajal were in Bora­cay to conduct terrorist attacks on foreign and local tourists flocking the famous island resort. The military has linked Bani to the 2001 Dos Palmas kidnapping staged by the homegrown terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. Bani’s brother Mahid claimed that he (Bani) showed signs of torture when they visited him at the detention facility of the ISG on March 17.
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2008-03-24 Southeast Asia
(Xinhua) -- Singapore has detained another Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) member for his involvement in the terrorist group, The Ministry of Home Affairs said on Sunday. The ministry said that the internal security act's order against Rijal Yadri Jumari, who was arrested in February this year, was issued three days ago.

Rijal Yadri Jumari, 27, is a member of JI's "Al-Ghuraba" cell which aims to develop young members to become trained operatives and future leaders, said the ministry. Rijal Yadri Jumari went to Afghanistan in 2000 and was trained at Al-Qaeda's Camp Farouq in Kandahar where he learnt how to handle weapons, explosives, surveillance and guerrilla warfare, according to Channel News Asia reports.

JI is a Southeast Asia-based terrorist organization. Singapore has detained over 30 JI members for the past years. But the leader of the Singapore terrorist JI network, Mas Selamat Kastari, escaped from the country's Whitley road detention center later February this year, and a massive manhunt involving the police and armed soldiers has since been underway to track down the escaped detainee.
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2008-03-21 Southeast Asia
The military unit that recently killed a man believed to be a Jemaah Islamiyah bomber was deployed to Sulu to hunt down the remaining JI-linked Abu Sayyaf leaders and followers hiding in the province, an official said. Marine Force Recon Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Ruben Candelario said no specific targets were given except to hunt down the remaining Abu Sayyaf leaders and followers in the area.

Among the known Abu Sayyaf leaders hiding in Sulu is Radulan Sahiron, the oldest and dubbed as the one-armed bandit leader and Al-bader Parad, who was involved in the 2000 kidnapping in Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia. Candelario said they will continue to do their job and mission in running after the lawless elements like the Abu Sayyaf bandits that are responsible in kidnappings and bombings in recent years. Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) Commander Lt. Gen. Nelson Allaga announced that the offensive will continue against the Abu Sayyaf bandits and other lawless groups despite the Holy Week observance.

Candelario's unit, the Marine Force Recon Battalion, is an elite force of the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC). The Marine Force Recon Battalion has killed bandit leader Wahab Opao in a clash last January 31 in Sitio Lobbok, Barangay Buan, Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi. A former Abu Sayyaf follower told Wesmincom officials that JI bomber Amar Usmanan known as Dulmatin was severely wounded in the same clash. Last February 18, a body believed to be that as Dulmatin was recovered in Sitio Lobbok, Barangay Buan, Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi. Tissue samples were taken from the corpse for Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) to determine if it is really Dulmatin. Results of the DNA test has yet to be released, which Candelario said will boost the morale of his troops once it turn out positive to be that of Dulmatin.
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2008-03-21 Southeast Asia
Singaporean authorities have received more than 1,100 tips from the public in its manhunt for an alleged terrorist leader who escaped jail two weeks ago, police said on Wednesday. Mas Selamat bin Kastari, the alleged Singapore head of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) which is blamed for deadly attacks including the 2002 Bali bombings, vanished on February 27 after asking to use the toilet in his detention centre.

The phoned-in tips had been received from the public as of Monday after police asked for information leading to Kastari’s arrest, police director of operations Wong Hong Kuan said.

A number of false alarms have been triggered by information that Indonesia-born Kastari walks with a limp. People have also sent in tips via e-mail.

Security forces were still conducting searches almost island-wide, with a focus on forested tracts though it was not “neglecting the urban built-up areas,” Wong said.

Local media have described the search — involving police, the military and Nepalese Gurkha paramilitary forces — as the biggest manhunt in the history of Singapore, which has lush nature reserves and densely populated housing blocks.

Pictures of the wanted man have been plastered across the city-state and sent to mobile phone subscribers. Security forces in neighbouring Indonesia and Malaysia were also on the lookout for Kastari, but Singapore insists he is unlikely to have fled the island. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday that Singapore remained optimistic it can capture him.

Kastari, 47, was accused of plotting to hijack a plane in order to crash it into Singapore’s busy Changi Airport in 2001, but he was never charged in court. He was being held under an internal security law that allows for detention without trial.
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2008-03-20 Southeast Asia
THE threat posed by suspected Jemaah Islamiyah bomber Mohamad Baehaqi on Davao City and on its tourist spots is far from over even though he has already been arrested last February 17.

Tourist spots in and around Davao City have been placed on heightened alert by police and military officials, especially with tourists and locals expected to flock to the beaches and resorts around Davao City and Samal Island for the long Holy Week holiday.

In an interview Wednesday with Chief Superintendent Andres Caro II, regional police director, he said one of the major considerations of the region's security officials was the admission of Baehaqi on his group's plan to perpetrate acts of terror on the beach resorts and even in the urban area of Davao City.

Adding to the woes of the police and military was the discovery of the presence of alleged 'cohorts' of Baehaqi in the region. They might be capable of perpetrating the planned terror attacks in Southern Mindanao.

"He still has his cohorts in the region and the military and police are investigating them," Caro said. "I cannot say anything else beyond that," Caro added.

Caro added that they have deployed additional forces to man the security of the Davao City Overland Transport Terminal, the Davao International Airport, the Sasa Wharf, and even the Sta. Ana Pier. However, Caro was quick to add that there is no direct threat on the city yet.

Baehaqi was arrested by military and police operatives last February 17, in a sleepy town in Davao Oriental, and he was allegedly planning to bomb a regional sportsfest conducted in the neighboring town of Mati. During the tactical interrogation, Baehaqi admitted to planning terror attacks in Southern Mindanao, especially on beach resorts and urban centers.
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2008-03-20 Southeast Asia
A suspected bomber with links to the Jemaah Islamiyah was arrested by government security forces here, the police announced Saturday. Senior Inspector Usman Ali Pingay, Jolo police chief, said Rening Kamlon Sabdani alias Rening Asmaruddin was the main suspect in the March 1 explosion near the military headquarters here that wounded six people, two of them soldiers.

Pingay said Sabdani, 39, was arrested during a raid by police and military personnel on a house in Barangay (village) Bus-bus on March 8. "He was having a drink with another companion when we came around 3 p.m. His companion managed to escape," Pingay said.

He said Pingay said Sabdani's arrest was not immediately publicized because he was under tactical interrogation. He described the suspect as a member of the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group. "We have already filed charges against him," Pingay said.

In Datu Odin Sinsuat in Shariff Kabunsuan province, soldiers reportedly foiled a bomb attack after they seized an explosive and arrested a suspected terrorist on Tuesday. Lieutenant Colonel Julieto Ando, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division based in the that province, said the soldiers were manning a checkpoint in Makar village when they discovered a powerful improvised bomb while inspecting a passenger vehicle from nearby a town around noon.

He said the checkpoint was set up after the military received information that a bomb attack was to be carried out in one of the province's towns. Ando said the explosive, fashioned out of a 60-millimeter live mortar shell, was placed in a traveling bag inside the baggage compartment of the passenger van that was being inspected.

Ando said the bomb had a blasting cap and was packed with about a kilo of three-inch concrete nails and explosive powder. "It was fitted with a cellphone as detonator and a timer powered by a nine-volts battery," he said.

Ando said the suspected bomber, Saudi Abdul Ibrahim of Sultan Kudarat town, also in Shariff Kabunsuan, was arrested.

He said the make of the bomb was similar to the ones exploded by terrorists affiliated with the Jemaah Islamiyah in Central Mindanao but he could not say if the suspect was a member of any of the JI-affiliated groups operating in the region and other parts of Mindanao. Ando said the suspect was immediately turned over to the local police for further investigation.
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2008-03-16 Southeast Asia
The three alleged foreign terrorists arrested in the country last month planned to bomb a major airport and a military camp in Mindanao, according to a preliminary police report shown to the Inquirer yesterday.

The report said Jordanians Khalil Hasan Al-Alih and Walid Abu Aisem and Indonesian Bae Haki admitted during interrogation that they were involved in plans to bomb Awang airport in Cotabato City as well as the headquarters of the 6th Infantry Division located beside the terminal. The sources said the authorities were tracking the suspects’ funding source as well as other cohorts they may have had.

Police arrested Al-Alih on Feb. 15 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Aisem and Haki were arrested in Davao between Feb. 15 and 29. The sources told the Inquirer the three were suspected members of an al-Qaida sleeper cell operating in the country that planned to bomb the American, British and other embassies in Manila.

Haki was reportedly a member of Jemaah Islamiyah, an Indonesia-based terror group with links to the al-Qaida international terror network of Osama bin Laden.

The Philippine National Police, meanwhile, is also on the lookout for a terror suspect who escaped from detention in Singapore three weeks ago, according to a confidential report obtained by the Inquirer. The report said Singapore police had alerted their counterparts in the Philippines to be on the lookout for Mas Selamat Kastari after they failed to find him in the city-state. Kastari, 45, is reportedly the Jemaah Islamiyah leader in Singapore.
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2008-03-12 Southeast Asia
(Xinhua) -- Two suspected terrorists, including a foreigner, were arrested by intelligence agents on the Philippines' tourist island of Boracay in the central Aklan province, media reports said on Tuesday. The arrested suspects were named as Almizhabr Bonadial, a suspected Jemaah Islamiyah member, and Mohammad Bani Macarya suspected to be a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group, Philippine TV network ABS-CBN reported, citing a military source.

The Indonesia-based militant group Jemaah Islamiyah and the AbuSayyaf, a small but violent southern Philippine-based group blacklisted by Washington as a terror organization, have been blamed for a series of deadly bomb attacks, including the February2004 bombing of a ferry in Manila Bay that killed more than 100 persons. The two were arrested in operations conducted on Boracay Islandlast week, the source said.

This came as Armed Forces' chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. confirmed the arrest of a Filipino who has suspected links to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network. "We would like to come up with the details after we have completed the follow-up operations just to be sure that the members of their cells are already taken cared of," Esperon said. He said another suspected terrorist, who "came from another country" was also arrested Monday.

The military chief said the arrests were connected to the alleged assassination plot against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and a terror group's plan to bomb vital government installations in the country's capital region of Metro Manila. The Philippine National Police (PNP) had said that the assassination plot against President Arroyo was uncovered with the recovery of a document, which was written in Arabic. PNP chief Director General Avelino Razon Jr. said the document was recovered by a security guard on a parking lot of an establishment located somewhere in Metro Manila. Razon said the document detailed a terror group's plan to bomb a convoy of President Arroyo and a plot to bomb foreign embassies in Manila.
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2008-03-11 Southeast Asia
Philippine and Indonesian police are planning to set up a DNA databank to help rapidly identify captured or slain members of the al-Qaida-linked militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, a top police official said Monday.

National police chief Avelino Razon said the anti-terrorism project would be developed with Interpol's help and integrated into the police information systems of the two countries — both key U.S. anti-terrorism allies. "This will be a useful tool, and we want to have this as soon as possible," Razon said.

Razon said he discussed development of the databank with Indonesian officials on the sidelines of an international police conference in Hong Kong last week. Police in both countries will focus on obtaining DNA samples of the relatives of dozens of Jemaah Islamiyah members known to be hiding in the southern Philippines, he said.

The Indonesia-based militant group has been blamed for the 2002 nightclub bombings on Indonesia's resort island of Bali that killed 202 people. Two suspected Bali bombing plotters, Umar Patek and Dulmatin, are believed to have fled to the southern Philippines in 2003.

Philippine military officials believe Dulmatin, a master bombmaker whose wife identified him as Ammar Usman, may have been killed in a clash with government forces in the country's southernmost province of Tawi Tawi in January.

American and Philippine experts are conducting DNA tests to determine if the body was that of Dulmatin, who is believed to have been plotting terror attacks and training Filipino militants in the southern region of Mindanao.

Washington has offered a reward of US$10 million (€6.49 million) for Dulmatin's capture.

Police intelligence officers said the DNA tests are using tissue samples taken from Dulmatin's wife and six children, who were separately detained in Mindanao in 2006 and deported to Indonesia last year.

The Philippine military believes more than 40 other Jemaah Islamiyah members are hiding in Mindanao. It says the fighters went to Mindanao for combat and religious training and are too afraid to return home because of an anti-terror campaign in Indonesia
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2008-03-11 Southeast Asia
(Xinhua) -- Singapore police believe escaped Jemaah Islamiyah leader Mas Selamat Kastari is still in the country as there is no evidence to show he has managed to leave Singapore, local media reported Monday.

It has been 13 days since the terrorist escaped from Whitley Detention Center in Singapore on Feb. 27, where he had been detained under the Internal Security Act since 2006 for involvement in a plot to crash a hijacked plane into Changi Airport. Police are continuing their intensive search while there is still no sign of Mas Selamat.

Police said Monday they are still focusing their search in forested areas, local radio station 938 Live reported. The search has been extended to residential areas, including abandoned buildings and vacant houses, local TV Channel NewsAsia said.

Police maintained that Mas Selamat is still in Singapore as there is no evidence that his escape was a result of help from others although the authorities are not ruling out the possibility. With the increased searches, police said more than 10 immigration offenders - mainly illegal immigrants - have been arrested.

Police have received some 1,100 emails and calls so far. They encouraged the public to provide any genuine information or possible sighting of Mas Selamat. But they cautioned that action will be taken against hoax callers. A 50-year-old bus driver was charged with giving the police false information about Mas Selamat's whereabouts and leading police on a wild goose chase.
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2008-03-07 Southeast Asia
An al-Qaeda operative sent to the country to carry out bomb attacks was captured middle of last month, sources in the Philippine National Police told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Thursday. Investigators were verifying if Khalil Hasan Al-Alih of Jordan was also involved in the purported plot to assassinate President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Al-Alih was picked up at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Feb. 15 after arriving from Saudi Arabia, the sources, who sought anonymity for lack of authority to speak, said. One source, a ranking police officer, said Al-Alih was sent to the Philippines to bomb targets that included the American and British embassies. He reportedly used a Kuwaiti passport and had been coming in and out of the Philippines since the 1990s.

Lost in airport
The source said Al-Alih dropped a package that contained documents in Arabic that detailed the plot. The package was picked up by an airport security guard and turned over to police, he said. The documents were reportedly shown to intelligence and security personnel from the US and other embassies “for assessment.”

PNP Director General Avelino Razon was to report Al-Alih’s capture at an international conference of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) in Hong Kong Thursday. Razon was to deliver a report on terror links between Central Asia and the Southeast Asia-Pacific region and the Philippines’ efforts to combat terrorism.

More embassy targets
The Associated Press, quoting Filipino officials, said local authorities had arrested three suspected Middle Eastern militants suspected of involvement in a plot to bomb the US and three other embassies in Manila. “There is a high probability they are involved in some kind of plan to sow trouble,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told reporters on the sidelines of an annual antiterrorism and business security conference in Makati City. All were Middle Eastern nationals, Ermita added.

One of the militants was arrested in Metro Manila and the others were captured separately in the southern Philippines recently, he said. Ermita refused to provide details, but two senior Filipino security officials told AP that investigators were verifying intelligence information the three may have been involved in a plot to bomb the US, British, Australian and Israeli embassies in Manila. Authorities believed the three had links to the Indonesia-based regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines.

Funds released
Funding for the plot had been secured, indicating an attack against one of the embassies may be in an advanced stage, one of the officials said, adding that all the embassies concerned had been notified.

The two officials were concerned the threat would be dismissed by the political opposition as a government effort to justify a heavy military and police presence in the capital while President Arroyo grapples with the NBN-ZTE corruption scandal. One of the officials said there was no indication the terror plot involved a direct threat against Ms Arroyo.

Ermita, in his speech at the Protect 2008 conference in Makati, said terrorists were planning to use the street demonstrations against President Arroyo to launch their attacks. He said the authorities took two suspects into custody before the Feb. 29 interfaith rally in Makati.
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2008-03-04 Southeast Asia
After a protracted 30-year insurgency which has seen up to 150,000 people killed, Muslim rebels are facing an uncertain future as peace finally looks near in the southern Philippines. With talks due to resume this month between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) many young Muslims in this sprawling rebel camp in Mindanao are trying to come to terms with the prospect of peace.

Government negotiators and the MILF leadership are optimistic the final hurdles to peace can be overcome by granting limited autonomy to the Muslim minority in this predominant Roman Catholic Southeast Asian nation. For many of the 12,000 MILF rebels, especially the young, peace is likely to bring an uncertain future.

MILF chief Murad Ibrahim, in a rare interview with AFP, said he was worried for their future, especially for those born into war and the many whose parents and older relatives have died as "martyrs". At 58, Ibrahim is seen by many as more pragmatic and moderate than his predecessor Salamat Hashim, the Egypt-trained MILF founder who espoused continued jihad for a Muslim homeland. Salamat died of a heart attack in 2003.

"We cannot fail in this struggle for peace," said Murad, who long ago traded his military fatigues and combat boots for grey safari suits and loafers. "If we fail, we will be in a far worse situation."

Murad said it was too early to talk about disarming his men as "we still have to reach a political settlement that will be beneficial to everyone". With a ceasefire and peace talks now entering their fifth year Murad says the longer the talks drag on "we run the risk of spoilers entering the picture". The spoilers he refers to are the Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Abu Sayyaf -- both of which have links with Al-Qaeda.

Moro fighter Abdullah, who uses one name, says he is concerned about the future. A young man in his early 20s clutching a rusty M-60 machine gun, he is a veteran of many jungle battles and is ready, he says, to die for the cause. "I have not been to a battle since last year," Abdullah says, perspiration trickling down his brow. He is wearing mismatched fatigues that bears a striking resemblance to those used by Sri Lakan Tamil insurgents.

"I have had many adventures with this gun, I sleep with it and never go anywhere without it," he says. "I cannot part with my weapon." Abdullah says he is not prepared to lay down his weapon even if a final peace deal is signed. "It's not in my blood to be a farmer," he said.

Abdullah's sentiments are shared by many MILF guerrillas, notably the second and third generation fighters whose elders formed the core of the first mujaheeds who fought the insurgency in the 1970s. Security analysts say the biggest problem faced by the government is disarming the rebels, with younger MILF fighters opposed to the peace deal seen as highly susceptible to more radicalization by groups such as the JI and the Abu Sayyaf.

"With the history of the Mindanao conflict, these groups are always there to exploit the situation," says Julkipli Wadi, an Islamic studies professor at the University of the Philippines who has closely followed the insurgency. "The JI and the Abu Sayyaf could form strategic alliances with these young fighters who may not want to part with their firearms," Wadi said.

Yusuph Abisakir, the mild-mannered administrator at the sprawling Camp Darapanan that spans several towns in central Mindanao, says he hopes that the rigid command structure of the MILF's Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) would keep cadres in line once a peace deal is signed.

"I have not seen any open resentment" to the talks, Abisakir said, adding that many of the fighters want to see peace achieved in their lifetimes. "But of course no one will agree to give up their firearms," said Abisakir, whose job is to give spiritual and military guidance to the more than 1,000 regular MILF fighters in the camp.

Government and the MILF are mulling the possibility of transforming the rebels into a "territorial force" to guard areas to be covered under a final peace deal. They would not be disarmed, rather than slowly integrated into government forces. Another idea is for government to buy the guns outright and offer jobs to the rebels.

For MILF field commander Toks Guiwan, whose two young sons are are also fighters, such talk of disarmament only upsets his men. "It's dangerous talk, my men have known no other job than to fight," he says.

Nearby, Abdullah polishes his old M-60 and with a smile boasts that he can live without his wife for a long time, but not without his firearm. "This has saved me many times," he says. "My wife, she gets mad when I caress my machine gun, but she understands."
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2008-03-02 Southeast Asia
JOLO, Philippines - A homemade bomb ripped through a bar near an army base in the southern Philippine island of Jolo, wounding six people, officials said on Sunday. Experts were sifting through the damage for clues in late Saturday’s attack.

“Six people are wounded in the blast, four women and two soldiers, and we are still investigating the explosion,” said Army Major Roel Ebreo, spokesman for an anti-terrorism task force.

No group claimed responsibility for the bombing, but previous attacks in the south have been blamed on Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militants. “We are determining what type of explosive was used and who is behind this blast,” provincial police chief Julasiri Kasim said.
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2008-02-29 Southeast Asia
Indonesia needs to keep closer tabs on a flourishing publishing network linked to the militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, which reflects a debate on tactics among Islamic extremists, an International Crisis Group report said Friday. It said the profitable book business had been growing at a time when Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional network blamed for a string of deadly attacks in Indonesia including the 2002 Bali bombings, had been weakened and appeared to be rebuilding.

The increase in publications, which indicate a debate within Jemaah Islamiyah over the desirability of using Qaeda tactics, could be a sign that the organization was trying to rebuild by focusing on religious outreach and recruitment, the report said. "These publishers are disseminating a radical message, but they also may be playing a positive role by channeling JI energies into jihad through the printed word rather than through acts of violence," said Sidney Jones of the International Crisis Group, a prominent Jakarta-based authority on Jemaah Islamiyah.

The report said that banning publications, which are often Arabic translations and include titles like "Join the caravan of martyrs" or "Becoming an infidel without knowing it" would be counterproductive, but there was a need for more scrutiny.

As well as being a possible recruiting tool, the report said the publishing web based around the central Java town of Solo illustrated the social network holding Jemaah Islamiyah together and helped explain the ability of Jemaah Islamiyah to rebound from setbacks.
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2008-02-29 Southeast Asia
The Singapore government apologized Thursday for the security lapse that allowed a suspected Islamic terrorist leader to escape from jail, triggering a manhunt across this usually well-policed island nation. Authorities said Mas Selamat Kastari, who once allegedly plotted to hijack a plane and crash it into Singapore's international airport, slipped away Wednesday. He is said to be commander of the Singapore arm of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian extremist group allied with al-Qaida.

Minister of Home Affairs Wong Kan Seng said Mas Selamat escaped after being taken from his cell to go to a room for a scheduled visit by his family at the Whitley Road Detention Center, which is in a wooded residential area in central Singapore. Mas Selamat, 47, was allowed to first go to the restroom and escaped from the heavily guarded facility, Wong said in Parliament, without offering any specifics.
Ahhh yess…the ole “I’m just going to the biffy I’ll be right back.” routine.

"This should never have happened," said Wong, who is also deputy prime minister. "I am sorry that it had. An independent investigation is under way and we should not speculate on what and how it happened."
Too late Wongy…we’ve already been speculating it was an inside job.

The Home Affairs Ministry said in a statement that "extensive police resources have been deployed to track" down Mas Selamat, who walks with a limp. Nepalese Gurkhas who guard the jail fanned out across a nearby snake-infested forest, checking vacant bungalows and peering down drains and back alleys of private housing areas.Thousands of police officers and soldiers set up roadblocks to check passing cars. Dozens of riot police and military trucks parked along main roads.
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2008-02-19 Southeast Asia
A body believed to be that of Indonesian terrorist leader Dulmatin, wanted for the October 2002 Bali bombings, was recovered Monday afternoon by a joint military team in Tawi-Tawi province.

Intelligence reports said the body was found 1:30 p.m. at the vicinity of Sitio Salisit in Balimbing village, Panglima Sugala town in Tawi-Tawi. "(The) said corpse was jointly identified by informants with notable wounds in the head, chest and right foot to include clothing in physical characteristics matched with previous revelations," the report said. The body was exhumed for DNA testing for confirmation.

Reached for comments, Marine commandant Maj. Gen. Ben Dolorfino said that if the remains turn out to be that really of Dulmatin, his death could be traced to the January 31 clash in the province. "That is the report we got from our units in Tawi-Tawi. Remember that during the January 31 encounter, he was reported injured," Dolorfino told reporters.

Dolorfino said an informant led government troops to Dulmatin's supposed gravesite and that based on the informant's accounts of the slain terrorist's injuries, "it matched with (the accounts) of our witness. This is a big blow to the JI and the Abu Sayyaf."

Dulmatin, who had been a target of a manhunt operations in Mindanao, was a senior figure in the militant group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). He was one of the most wanted terrorists in Southeast Asia. He is also known as Amar Usmanan, Joko Pitoyo, Joko Pitono, Abdul Matin, Pitono, Muktarmar, Djoko, and Noval.
Also as Sam, Harry, Herb, Tom, Hop Ching, Dick, Jane, Sally, and Honeychile.
Dulmatin was allegedly one of the masterminds behind the 2002 Bali bombings in Indonesia which killed 202 people, including seven US citizens. - GMANews.TV
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2008-02-15 Southeast Asia
Philippines security officials said on Thursday they had uncovered a plot by militants linked to the Al Qaeda network to assassinate President Gloria Arroyo and target foreign embassies here.

Her security chief, Brigadier General Romeo Prestoza, said Arroyo had been informed of the threat, which forced her to cancel a scheduled trip Friday to the northern resort city of Baguio. The announcement came a day ahead of a major rally by Arroyo’s political opponents to demand her resignation over allegations of corruption linking the first family. Security forces in the Philippines were placed on full alert, with Prestoza saying the plot was hatched by “extremists Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the Abu Sayyaf,” referring to Muslim militant groups with reported links to Al Qaeda.

Foreign embassies: “It is not just the president, there are other targets,” he told reporters. “A number of embassies in Manila have also been targeted for attack,” Prestoza said, without naming the embassies. “The only event we have cancelled is the President’s trip to the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio as it is wide open and difficult to secure.”

He said the plan did not appear to be connected to the opposition rally at the Makati business district in Manila, planned for Friday. National police chief Avelino Razon said a letter had reached them, outlining the plot against Arroyo, adding that Muslim extremists appeared to be behind it. He said the letter “appeared to know her (Arroyo’s) schedule,” but he did not specify where it had come from. The police later released a statement saying it had recovered several documents from “a parking lot somewhere in the Metro Manila area,” which detailed the schedule and movements of Arroyo and other figures.

Armed forces chief General Hermogenes Esperon said news of the plan “had become the basis for putting the armed forces of the Philippines in full state of preparedness.” He said elements composed of militants from Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah were also planning to hit “high-value targets” around Manila. Both groups, which have been blamed for the worst terrorist attacks in the Philippines in recent years, are known to operate on the southern island of Mindanao. They are, however, known to field “cells” responsible for bombings around Manila in the past.

Earlier Thursday, army spokesman Captain Carlo Ferrer cited intelligence reports that elements from the communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebel group may infiltrate the ranks of protesters Friday and instigate violence.
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2008-02-05 Southeast Asia
A clash that erupted between government troops and suspected Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists on a southern island Monday had resulted to the deaths of three rebels and two soldiers, an official said. "Three terrorists were killed and two of our soldiers are also slain in the fighting in Sulu. There is an ongoing operation against the terrorists," Army Major Eugene Batara, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, told GMANews.TV. Batara said five soldiers were also wounded in the clash that began shortly before 3 a.m. "The soldiers were on a mission to rescue a kidnapped trader when they encountered the terrorists," he said.

It was not immediately known whether the group was holding Rosalie Lao, 45, who was kidnapped Jan. 28 outside her home in Jolo town. Lao, who buys and sells Malaysian goods in Jolo, is a Filipino Muslim with Chinese ancestry.

Last week, troops on nearby Tawi-Tawi island shot and killed an Abu Sayyaf commander, Wahab Upao, but missed the Indonesian terror suspect, Dulmatin, one of several operatives of the Indonesian-based militant group Jemaah Islamiyah believed to be hiding in the southern Philippines. Dulmatin has been implicated in the 2002 bombings that killed 202 people in Bali, Indonesia.

The Abu Sayyaf, linked to al-Qaeda, has been blamed for bombings, kidnappings and beheadings. US-backed offensives against the group have reduced its strength to about 300 guerrillas from more than 1,000 during its heyday in 2000, according to the military.
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2008-02-03 Southeast Asia
An Indonesian court jailed an Islamic militant for 10 years Friday for committing acts of terror and acting in a leadership role in the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) network. Prosecutors had urged a sentence of 15 years for Maulana Yusuf Wibisono, alias Kholis, 36, for participating in militant activities on the main island of Java and in the restive Poso region on Sulawesi island. "The defendant was proven convincingly to have carried out acts of terror and has been sentenced to ten years imprisonment," Judge Lexy Mamoto said in reading out the verdict. Mamoto said Wibisono "created social and political disturbance and damaged the country's image," but had shown remorse and been cooperative during his trial.

He said Wibisono had been the branch leader of a military wing within JI that was lead by Abu Dujana, who is currently also on trial.

Mamoto said Wibisono had arranged the transfer of 100 kilograms of TNT to Poso and had undergone military training in different locations on Java with several other men. Poso has seen sporadic unrest since unrest between Muslims and Christians flared in 2000 and 2001, killing around 1,000 people. Five other men are currently waiting to be sentenced in separate terrorism trials.
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2008-02-01 Southeast Asia
Government troops on Thursday swooped down the lair of Jemaah Islamiyah leader Dulmatin in Balimbing, Tawi-Tawi but failed to capture the notorious terrorist.

The military, however, was able to kill a certain Radi Upao, allegedly a sub-leader of the Abu Sayyaf group who has a P2-million reward on his head for charges of kidnapping, serious illegal detention, and mass abduction, according to Armed Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro. "Alias Dulmatin was able to escape," Bacarro said.

In a dzBB report, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) police director Chief Supt. Joel Goltiao identified Upao as the killer of missionary Reynaldo Roda. No casualty was reported on the government side, Bacarro said. Roda, a member of the Oblate of Mary Immaculate, was killed Jan. 15 after he fought his abductors who were dragging him to a motorboat in South Ubian town, also in Tawi-Tawi province.

Dulmatin is a senior figure in the militant group JI and is one of the most wanted terrorists in Southeast Asia. He is believed to be with the Abu Sayyaf group since 2003 and was involved in providing explosive expertise and training other militants.
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2008-01-26 Southeast Asia
(Xinhua) -- The Indonesian biggest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulema (NU) vowed on Friday to stop the spread of misteaching of Islam, which could trigger radicalism and spark terrorism in the biggest Muslim country, the chairman of the organization Hasyim Muzadi said here.

Terrorim has grown fast in recent years in the country, which was supported by poverty and lack of understanding of the true Islam, through the spread of misteaching of the religion. Among the teaching was hatred to the West and encouragement for retaliation through jihad in the form of attacks or suicide bombings targeting on the Western people or interest in Indonesia. Many young people had been recruited and shifted to become suicide bombers, especially those from remote areas in the country which 87 percent of its more than 220 million population are Muslim.

The more-than 40-millions followers Nahdlatul Ulema had the capacity to oppose the terrorist movement up to the level of grass root, said Muzadi. "The Nahdlatul Ulama has a capacity to halt it (the spread of terrorism). The NU has an obligation to stop it. The (NU followers) at the grass root stage can be used to stop it," he told a press conference after meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the State Palace here.

The chairman of the NU said that tens of millions of members of the organization spreading across the archipelago would be a bastion of the spread of the wrong deliberation of Islam by terrorists. "Should the followers of the Nahdlatul Ulema at the stage of grass root was already sterilized from the extremism, that would be very easy to stop the spread of the misteaching of Islam," he said.

Muzadi said that a proactive moves would be conducted to the community about the true Islam. "We gave sermon to the people about how is the right teaching of Islam," he said. Terorist has misinterpretated a Koranic verse about the legality for revenge through suicide bombings on infidels.

A top leader of the Southeast Asia militant group of Jemaah Islamiyah Noerdin Moh. Top and other terrorist fugitives are still at large in the country. Top has led and recruitment young people for suicide bombings since operating in Indonesia in 2000. He also organizer of the bombings. Many believed that the Jemaah Islamiyah had been behind the bloody attack in the country. Most of the 87 percent of Indonesia's 240 million population is moderate, but the rest is radical which are vulnerable from the spread of terrorism.
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2008-01-25 Southeast Asia
Singapore authorities said they detained two men who allegedly tried to join Islamic militant networks overseas, hoping to wage armed jihad in places such as Afghanistan and Chechnya. Muhammad Zamri Abdullah and Maksham Mohd Shah, both 26, were detained Dec. 5 under the Internal Security Act, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement late Thursday. Maksham is also accused of attempting to make bombs, the ministry said.

Their associate, Mohammad Taufik Andjah Asmara, 26, was given a restriction order, the ministry said. He was originally involved in their activities but later distanced himself from the pair, the statement said. Under such orders, suspects are released but placed under restrictions such as limits on traveling outside the country. All three men are Singapore citizens.

"Zamri became self-radicalized through radical propaganda in publications, videos and the Internet," the ministry said. He became radicalized to the extent that he had gone overseas to try to join a 'mujahideen network,' so that he could wage armed jihad overseas and die a martyr.

In early 2006, Zamri, who falsely claimed to be the Singapore representative of a foreign radical group, collected money from the other two men that he planned to send to another foreign radical group, the ministry said. Zamri and Maksham then traveled to an unnamed country in November 2006, hoping to take an oath of allegiance with leaders of radical and militant groups so they could join foreign mujahideen networks.

Zamri believed they would receive training and fight in places such as Afghanistan, Palestine and Chechnya, the statement said. But the pair failed when they were unable to meet with the leaders.

Maksham experimented with building homemade bombs after being inspired by news footage that showed Molotov cocktails being used in attacks, the statement said. He tried making explosive devices using material from sparklers.

The ministry also said that five detained members of the regional terror organization Jemaah Islamiyah, which has links to al-Qaida, were released between Dec. 20 and Jan. 5. "The five men had cooperated in investigations and responded positively to rehabilitation, including religious counseling," the statement said. Another man, detained for involvement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a group of separatist rebels in the southern Philippines, was also released Jan. 5, the statement said. The ministry did not say why the information in the statement was only now being released.
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2008-01-23 Syria-Lebanon-Iran
(AKI) - A year after a police operation left 14 Islamic militants and a policeman dead in Poso in the Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi, a leading think-tank says jihadi violence may have ended there. The International Crisis Group (ICG) said there are grounds for "cautious optimism" but more needs to be done to ensure peace is maintained.

In its report, Indonesia: Tackling Radicalism in Poso, the ICG said that the government had arrested and convicted those guilty of jihadi crimes since 2001, while extremists linked to Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) had fled the area. "No serious violence has taken place in Poso for twelve months, " the report said. "The JI administrative unit in Poso appears to have been destroyed, at least temporarily."

According to Sidney Jones, a senior ICG advisor, welcomed government peace initiatives but warned that new threats are emerging. “Now the task is to see that the peace is sustained,” she said.

Jemaah Islamiyah is a terrorist organisation committed to uniting most of Southeast Asia into an Islamic caliphate. The group is responsible for several bombings that have taken place in the region since 2000 including the 2002 Bali bombing. A bloody sectarian war raged between Christians and Muslims in Poso between 1998 and 2001. It was reportedly chosen as a new hub by JI soon after the end of the conflict and the move led to an escalation of religious-related crimes. In January 2007 conflict erupted when police sought to persuade those alleged of crimes to turn themselves in.

The ICG said in the past year the Indonesian government had made funds available to improve education and promoting vocational training in the region. The two initiatives are aimed at diluting the influence of radical teaching and ensuring that would-be extremists have career opportunities. The ICG report, however, warned that their implementation could undermine peace efforts.

The think-tank highlighted that grievances, particularly relating to justice and accountability, have not been fully resolved. It also said funding initiatives were mired in allegations of corruption, the issue that most concerns non-government organisations and community leaders. “The whiff - or stench - of corruption has long hung over Poso, and it undermines public trust in government more generally”, said John Virgoe, ICG Southeast Asia project director. “If corruption can be brought under control and the deradicalisation initiatives take hold, then perhaps the residents of Poso will have reason for hope”.

The ICG said national and local government needed to lift its auditing procedures and increase funding transparency.
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2008-01-18 Southeast Asia
then, immediately tries to take it back

The Islamic insurgency in Thailand’s southern provinces is no longer a local separatist struggle but part of a broader jihadi movement, a government official claimed on Friday.

Chaiya Yimvilai, a government spokesman, said fighting the local insurgency was now more difficult as the rebels were receiving money from al-Qaeda. “The situation has intensified recently because they received money from overseas, from the international terror organisation al-Qaeda,” he said at a media briefing.

However, Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont immediately played down the claim and stressed that there was no definitive information to support it. “They may share the same ideology. We don't know for sure if they are indeed connected,” he said.

Bangkok has always rebuffed sporadic claims that Thai Islamic radicals could be linked to a larger Islamic terrorist organisation, and in particular to Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

Indonesia-based JI wants to unite countries across South-east Asia into a caliphate. It has been linked to some of the worst terrorist attacks in the region since 2000, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 and injured 200 others.

Using leaflets, Thai Muslim rebels have routinely stated their goal of establishing an independent Islamic state (Pattani Darulislam) in southern Thailand but never stated a desire to create a larger association.
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2008-01-17 Southeast Asia
(AKI) – In the Philippines, they have been labelled "sexy bombers" and they are believed to be the latest weapon from the Islamic terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah.

Police from the volatile southern province of Mindanao are taking seriously the possibility that women have been trained and are ready to blow themselves up in the name of Islam. According to information given to intelligence services, there are at least 10 potential female suicide bombers ready to carry out attacks. Several cities in Mindanao, the southernmost island of the archipelago which is home to 4.5 million Muslims, would be among their potential targets.

The island is the scene of an ongoing secessionist battle being fought by Islamic separatists for the past 30 years. The head of police in Mindanao has called for local police to investigate reports that the female bombers may have been recruited and trained.
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2008-01-16 Southeast Asia
Judges at an Indonesian court yesterday ruled to continue with the terrorism trial of the self-confessed leader of Islamic militant network Jemaah Islamiyah. Zarkasi, who is said to have become the acting head of JI in 2004 after his predecessor was arrested, was captured in Central Java in June last year in what was seen as a major blow to the organisation blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

Prosecutors have charged the 45-year-old, who is known under several aliases, with plotting, attempting or assisting in acts of terrorism, smuggling weapons and other dangerous materials, and moving and using them for terror purposes. “The South Jakarta court, based on a decree of the Supreme Court, has the authority to hear this case... The prosecutor’s indictment is already clear and complete,” said Eddy Refdianto, head of the panel of judges hearing the case. The decision overruled the arguments of Zarkasi’s defence team, which had said the court had no authority to hear the case as the crimes he was accused of committing did not occur in Jakarta. They also said the case should be dropped because the indictment was vague and incomplete.

The judge ordered prosecutors to summons witnesses who will be heard when the trial resumes in a week. Under Indonesia’s tough anti-terror laws, Zarkasi could face the death penalty for his crimes, which are allegedly related to sectarian violence in the restive district of Poso in Central Sulawesi. He is said to have known of various attacks on non-Muslims in the region, including the 2005 beheading of three schoolgirls, a crime that grabbed world headlines. He is also accused of ordering explosives to be sent to Poso in mid-2006 and overseeing the purchase, storing and movement of explosives and firearms.

In three separate cases yesterday judges at the same court ruled that the trials of five other alleged JI militants will also continue next week.
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2007-12-31 Southeast Asia
The Malaysian government has released four alleged members of the militant group Jemaah Islamiyah after holding them for nearly five years, a rights group said on Saturday. "The government freed the four alleged JI members last week," Yap Swee Seng, the executive director of the campaign group Voice of the Malaysian People, said.

The men were arrested in December 2002 under the criticised Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows indefinite detention without trial, after the government launched a crackdown on JI, the rights group said. The militant group, previously thought to have links to Al-Qaida, has been blamed for deadly attacks that have killed hundreds of people in south-east Asia. Yap said that the men were released from Kamunting detention camp in northern Perak state on December 19, but that their movements have been curtailed. "They still have to report to police and remain indoors at night," he said.

Security officials could not be reached for comment. But intelligence officials have previously said that detention under the ISA was extended only if there was evidence that a militant remained a security threat.

The released men were Bakkery Mahhamud, Mohamad Zamri Sukirman, Sabri Jaafar and Zamzuri Sukirman, said GMI, another rights group, adding they had been detained between December 2002 and January 2003.

GMI wants the ISA abolished and said a persistent public campaign had led to their release. But it criticised the selective release of people held under the act. "GMI calls on the Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to immediately release all those who have been detained in Kamunting or charge them in court," it said.

The government used the ISA in December to arrest five Hindu rights activists after they organised street protests to demand equal opportunities in Muslim-majority Malaysia. They are still being held by the authorities and critics charge that the ISA contravenes human rights. Malaysia has detained at least 85 people under the ISA, including alleged JI militants, according to the Voice of the Malaysian People. JI has been blamed for the 2002 bombings on Indonesia's resort island of Bali, which killed 202 people, mainly foreign tourists.
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2007-12-21 Southeast Asia
Defence lawyers for the alleged ringleader of a South-East Asian group blamed for a string of deadly attacks in recent years say his trial in Indonesia in connection with the 2002 Bali bombings should be dismissed. Abu Dujana, who admits being the head of Jemaah Islamiyah's military wing, appeared in a Jakarta court on Wednesday for his alleged involvement in the Bali attack and several others blamed on the group.

In addition to the Bali bombings, JI is accused of attacking the Australian embassy in Jakarta in 2004 and car bombing the city's JW Marriot hotel a year earlier. Abu Dujana is accused of "plotting terrorist activities" and sheltering the men who carried out the Bali bombings. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. His arrest in June, along with Zarkasih, JI's leader, was a triumph for Indonesian authorities. Police also seized two large caches of explosives, which they said were controlled by Abu Dujana, and used to attack Christians on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

But Abu Dujana's lawyers say the case against him has been improperly presented and have challenged the court's jurisdiction, saying his case should not be heard in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, as the alleged crimes took place in other
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2007-12-20 Southeast Asia
A combined police-Army team on Wednesday arrested a suspected Egyptian terrorist in a residential district in Cotabato City and found in his apartment materials used to fabricate homemade bombs and reading materials espousing religious extremism.

Police seized materials supposedly used in bomb-making, including detonating cords, pellets, clocks, a mortar booster, firing wire, batteries, Christmas bulbs, cell phone chargers and switches.
Mohammad Sayed, also known as Abu Husein, was arrested inside his apartment at the Woman's Islamic Center around 2 a.m. The apartment is owned by a certain Ustadz Salama Abdul Rakman in Kampo Moslem, Barangay Mother Bagua. Sayed is alleged to have links with both the al-Qaeda and the Indonesian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah. Police seized materials supposedly used in bomb-making, including detonating cords, pellets, clocks, a mortar booster, firing wire, batteries, Christmas bulbs, cell phone chargers and switches.

A book entitled "Yayasan Pusakan Sawono" and a military manual of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front were also confiscated.
Police said they are now investigating whether the suspect is a member of a terrorist organization.
Police said they are now investigating whether the suspect is a member of a terrorist organization.

Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the suspect was taken to the city's police station for detention. "The suspect is now undergoing interrogation," Ando said.

Ando said intelligence operatives of the 6th ID are still hot on the trail of Sayed’s companions and contacts in Cotabato City and Shariff Kabunsuan. Government security units have arrested more than a dozen suspicious foreigners, mostly of Middle Eastern origins, in Central Mindanao in the past three years.
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2007-12-16 Down Under
IN a visit sure to anger the families of those killed in the 2002 Bali bombings, radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has been allowed to see the three death-row bombers in jail to offer them guidance.

Himself convicted then acquitted of his role in the murderous nightclub attacks which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, Bashir told the terrorists that they must be patient and not weak, and that they were mujahidin (holy warriors).

Also alleged to have been the spiritual leader of terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, questions are being asked why authorities allowed the 69-year-old to visit his one-time protege at Nusakambangan, an island prison complex off the southern coast of Java.
To prepare them for the pardon that's coming, of course.
Bashir was among a group of Islamic preachers, family members and lawyers who visited the so-called smiling assassin Amrozi, his older brother Mukhlas and Imam Samudra on Saturday.

Before going into the jail, Bashir warned of a "big disaster" for Indonesia if the three were executed for their crimes, admitting their methods in defending Islam were wrong. "It is true they were defending Muslims but their methods were wrong. That is why they are now fasting to pay for the loss of innocent lives," he said.
Fasting works, as long as they're dead when they're done.
Bashir also delivered a sermon to the group, during which some family members are reported to have cried. He asked them to be patient in the test they were facing. "Convince yourself that you are a mujahidin. A mujahidin cannot be weak, sad and show grief and have to be patient," he told the men.

He also said the Indonesian Government should review the convictions and death penalties of the trio.

The men themselves, who have never expressed any remorse for their crimes except to say they are sorry that fellow Muslims died in the bombings, warned of doom for Australia. "Not long now Australia will go down. Its world will go down, the people will go down and doom on their Armageddon," Samudra said in English. "Specially for you Australia. Tell to your Minister, if you kafir did not convert to Islam then you will go to hell. Take America for example. Now their condition is worse than Russia."
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2007-12-11 Southeast Asia
(Xinhua) -- The terror trial of a top Indonesian suspected terrorist has been scheduled for Wednesday, a prosecutor said Monday. Prosecutors have prepared multiple charges against Abu Dujana, the accused member of regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah who has admitted to sending explosives to the restive town of Poso in Central Sulawesi. "The trial against Abu Dujana is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2007," said prosecutor Totok Bambang at the Central Jakarta District Court. "We have multiple indictments against him," he said, adding the defendant would be charged under the country's tough anti-terror law that carries death sentence. Dujana is also blamed for a role in the bombings at the Australian Embassy here in September 2004 and another attack on the JW Marriott Hotel a year earlier.

Dujana, whose real name is Ainul Bahri, was arrested in June this year along with at least six other militants. There was confusion surrounding his arrest as police said he was still on the run. After a DNA test, the police could finally confirm the man who was shot in the leg during a raid in the southern Java town of Yogyakarta was Dujana himself.
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2007-12-04 Southeast Asia
Six Islamic militants were sentenced to up to 19 years in prison Monday for terrorist acts in eastern Indonesia that include beheading three Christian schoolgirls and shooting to death a priest. The harshest sentences were given to Abdul Muis bin Kamarudin and Rahman Kalahe, who were convicted in the 2006 killing of Rev. Irianto Kongkoli, and in the beheadings in 2005. Both crimes were in Central Sulawesi province. The men were also punished for the shootings of two high school students, and the bombing of a busy New Year's market that killed eight people on Dec 31, 2005. Kongkoli was shot in the head while shopping with his wife in Palu, the provincial capital of Central Sulawesi.

Alleged members of the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah network left a handwritten note close to the bodies of the girls, vowing more killings to avenge the deaths of Muslims in earlier sectarian violence on Sulawesi island. The beheadings gave fresh impetus to the country's war on terrorism and was followed by scores of arrests.

The South Jakarta District Court sentenced four others to jail terms ranging from 10 and 18 years for bomb-making and plotting attacks against Christians, applying a harsh anti-terror law imposed after the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.

It was unclear if either side would appeal. "This is a consequence of our struggle," said defendant Syaiful Anan, a 26-year-old militant from Tawangmangu in Central Java province, as bailiffs took him from the courtroom. "Eighteen years is not a problem. There will be a more noble trial before God."
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2007-11-29 Iraq
Scripps Howard News Service
The Democratic presidential pack is desperate. Five senators, a governor and a representative are seeking one surefire way to capture hearts, minds and votes whenever they are asked what should be done about Iraq now that post-surge statistics show violence there has at least temporarily declined.
First instance of the blinders: Violence has declined, but because it's happened on Bush's watch it must be a temporary thing. It's entirely possible that we're currently in the lull between storms, but it's just as possible we're over the hump, which would call for a different assessment. The Iraqi army at the time of the First Gulf War was good mainly for oppressing the populace, but it was very good at that. The new Iraqi army hasn't been used to oppress the populace, being reserved instead for use against actual military (quasimilitary, at least) enemies. They are getting better at that as time goes on, with the combination of training, practice, and self-confidence that we're been giving them. Of those, the self-confidence is at least as important as the training and the practice. When we withdraw, they will be demonstrably the best military force in the Muddle East, certainly capable of dealing with Baathists revanchists.
Their quandary is based on a false perception that many think and no one speaks: The misguided notion that good news for the U.S. military is bad news for Democratic presidential prospects.
They've been working to make themselves that way since 1972, haven't they? Lemme see, here: George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and now the current crop of fluffheads. Have I missed anybody?
Wrong. One senator proposed the perfect solution -- and if an Iraq solution is the standard for choosing a standard-bearer, then the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee ought to be Sen. George Aiken of Vermont. There are, of course, two hitches: Aiken's lifelong membership in the Republican Party, and the fact that Aiken's long life ended in 1984, at the age of 92.
I vaguely remember Aiken's existence...
But the Iraq War application of Aiken's famous prescription for ending with honor the Vietnam War remains even more fitting today than it was in the 1960s: Declare victory and get out.
Oh, boy! We're going to play semantic games!
Aiken was not your typical anti-war liberal dove. He had supported the war initially and the bombing of North Vietnam. But he knew quagmire when he saw it. And so he sought a solution that would please hawks that wanted a victory, and doves, which wanted the war ended.
This is what I think of as the "transfusion fallacy." Let's assume you've been hit by a bus. You have massive internal bleeding. Trained medical professionals arrive on the scene. They try to start an IV to replace all those fluids that are seeping into your abdominal cavity or the gutter, depending. But they can't find a good vein. Maybe you're in shock. Obviously all they have to do at this point is declare you transfused, right? Or do you require the actual thing, rather than its description? (I think the answer might vary according to which political party you favor.)
There never was a U.S. victory moment in Vietnam, but we are there now in Iraq. The war President Bush started has been won. Saddam Hussein -- an evil despot who killed many thousands of his fellow Iraqis -- has been toppled, captured, convicted and executed.
Bush announced "mission accomplished" shortly after Sammy was toppled, and about six months before he was captured. The Baath regime at that point had in fact been kicked out and rendered incapable of returning. The war from that point forward was against Zarqawi in alliance with the Association of Muslim Scholars and the Baath revanchists. Neither Zarq nor the Muslim Scholars would have allowed to Baathists to recapture power. They were just too stoopid to realize that.
What happened since then was that Bush committed the same error that Republicans rightly blasted President Bill Clinton for committing in the comparatively minor military mission in Somalia: A never-announced mission creep.
The mission was to fight al-Qaeda. That wasn't "mission creep." It wasn't a static setup. Only an idiot would have assumed that Qaeda and/or Iran wouldn't try to snatch the Iraqi bone from the American jaws. What was a surprise was how effective a commander Zark was. He was an effective commander because of his experience operating al-Tawhid and Ansar al-Islam, not to mention the training camps in Afghanistan. That, and the fact that being nuts he was hard to predict.
U.S. forces were allowed to be sucked into the vortex of a bloody three-way Iraqi civil war pitting Sunni, Shia and Kurdish forces against each other. Indeed, it has been at least a six-sided civil war, as Iraq's factions within factions and outsiders from al Qaeda and Iran have slipped into Iraq.
That's the war we've been fighting since May, 2003. It's the war we're now winning, by the way, thanks to Dave Petraeus, his staff, his commmanders, and the men and women they lead. The Kurds have from the start been reliable allies, who've been supporting the new government. The Shiite split is mostly between Tater and SCIIRI, and we've pretty deftly turned SCIIRI's Badr Brigades from a threat to an asset, while we're beaten Tater to within in an inch and a half of killing him at least twice that I can recall off the top of my head -- and it's my opinion we should kill him, if only for the al-Khoei incident. The kaleidoscope of Sunni insurgent organizations ran the gamut from gangsters to Baath revanchists to beturbanned nutcases, and it's always been my contention that the war against them had to be intelligence driven -- not only to kill the worst of them, but to induce the kinds of splitting and side-changing we see going on right now.
Muslims are killing Muslims -- and the U.S. military has been allowed to become trapped in the middle, being killed and wounded by all factions and fringes.
According to the Association of Muslim Scholars, it's the poor, defenseless Iraqis who're trapped under the brutal occupation. Our main target has always been AQI and its allies and fronts -- Ansar al-Islam and the two branches of Ansar as-Sunna, and now the Islamic State in Iraq. But when they're setting up IEDs and such, you can't really ask which organization they belong to and they refuse to wear uniforms or even the same color turban. The sorting has to be done at the top level, which is why the 1920 Revolution Brigades and a couple or three others are now on our side -- and if they decide to go back on the other side again, we've got some real good intelligence to chase them down, just from having been in close proximity to them for this long.
American men and women on their second and third tours in Iraq have been at war longer than their grandfathers were in World War II.
Whoopty doo. The poor WWII troops were there much longer than were their WWI parents. A better comparison would be with the Indian Wars, that took the better part of the 19th century.
But now, U.S. military figures show that the civil-warfare in Iraq has become, at least statistically, a bit more civil.
So now's the time to throw it all away? Is it just me, or does that statement make no sense whatsoever?
So Iraq's politicians have no excuse to continue refusing to make political peace. But they do need a push.
Iraq's politicians have been working on making political peace for quite some time now. Part of the problem has been that the insurgency has been reflected within the body politic as well. They've only lately become strong enough to shut down the Association of Muslim Scholars, and they're still not strong enough to have al-Dulaimi killed. Tater, transparently controlled from Terrorhan, has been a part of the government. The Sunnis, recall, refused to take part, for the most part, preferring to kill and maim their fellow Muslims, which gave rise to the Shiite death squads in retaliation. It takes time and the appropriate tools -- a can of motor oil, a hot iron, and a pair of large tweezers -- to sort out a can of worms. If you only have the motor oil and half the tweezers when you start, you're really making things worse before you make them better -- and once you get the hot iron things go a lot faster.
That should be the Democrats' new master plan.
Brilliant. Simply brilliant.
Start by celebrating the fact that the U.S. troops won their war.
The current war isn't quite won yet.
This is the perfect time for Democrats to demonstrate the extinction of their three decades of reflexive dovish imagery.
Right. By pulling the troops out before the job's done. It's really about what we expect from them.
Fly with the hawks by celebrating U.S. military victories. Out-hawk the hawks by vowing to accomplish what Bush failed to do -- vanquish al Qaeda.
Bush has been working pretty hard and with quite a bit of success on vanquishing al-Qaeda wherever it raises its pointy little beturbanned head. 50 years from now he'll get the credit he deserves, but I'll be long dead by then so I won't be around to say I told you so.

There's been a continuous stream of Soddies, Yemenis, Syrians, Egyptians, and others tromping into the Iraqi killing fields to be... ummm... killed. You might almost describe them as the flower of their generation, since they're the ones with education and money for the most part, leaving the dullards and the broke back home as a cheering section.

While that's been going on, Jemaah Islamiyah has been rolled up in Indonesia, thanks to U.S. and Australian intel and the rise of people with a bit of sense to Indonesia's executive. The Philippines has seen the virtual demise of Abu Sayyaf and the extinction of the Pentagon Gang -- anybody remember them?

The Islamic Courts showed up in Somalia last July and they were on the run by December. Somalia, for the first time since Siad Barre, has a government in Mogadishu, albeit one that's shakey and often frightening to look at.

In Algeria, where GIA and GSPC were wreaking havoc in 2002, the Algerian army is in control, GIA's extinct, and GSPC's been forced to consolidate with other North African hard boyz into an out-and-out al-Qaeda franchise. In 2002 the Algerian army was still chasing them on foot. Now they've got vehicles, helicopters, and night vision goggles. Wonder where those came from?

In Afghanistan the Taliban, despite daily claims that they're winning, are being slaughtered in droves, upward of 40 at a time. Only in the heart of Qaeda country, the NWFP, where we can't send troops and where the government won't cooperate, is al-Qaeda still strong. And the Bush involvement with the government of Pakistain has been intense, if you've been watching. Benazir's there as a result of U.S. pressure, and I'm guessing Nawaz is back as a result of a U.S. (or Soddy) afterthought.

Bush's shortcoming is that he's not publicizing all this -- the public should be jumping up and down, cheering and throwing rose petals. Instead, most people don't know about it. And people working for some newspaper chains are actively trying to hide it from them.
Also, defeat for a second time the Afghanistan Taliban that, because of a Bush Team attention deficit disorder, was allowed to regain what they had lost.
Sigh. The Taliban "resurgence" is a result of Pakistain thinking they can control them, rather than some shortcoming on Bush's part. The main Taliban effort is in North and South Wazoo, not in Afghanistan -- at least at this moment. The commander to watch isn't Mullah Omar, but Baitullah Mehsud. But I'm sure you, Martin Schram, knew all that, right?
Now is the time for Democrats to demonstrate that theirs is the party of 21st-century smart power, the combination of military and diplomatic power and vision.
The Dems have made themselves the party that espouses more European-style solutions. Europe has been handling Iran for... how long? And France has taken the lead with Lebanon. All we do is supply a bit of military hardware and an occasional unobtrusive word of encouragement. Neither is what you could call a singular success, though the Syrians are at least out of Leb.
Failure to seize the initiative now could cause Democrats to be forever outside the gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., looking in on Inauguration Day. Now is the time for Democrats to declare "Mission Accomplished!" And show that they are ready to move vigorously to accomplish the next stage by sending Iraqi politicians the only signal they will understand -- by getting out.
They're not ignorant brutes who know only the language of a kick to the head, y'know? Though I guess the Dems could be the ignorant brutes in this case, capable of communicating with another political process only by snarling and betrayal, kind of like Hamas without the facemasks.
And also by declaring their party's determination to defeat the enemy that attacked us on 9/11 and has been allowed to survive and recoup, recruit anew and threaten us again.
How're you going to defeat them if you refuse to fight them? Batter them into submission with "soft power"? Send them a strongly worded memo? The enemy in Iraq is al-Qaeda in Iraq. If you're too dense to understand that, you're too dense to write on the subject. Try sports writing or theater criticism or write restaurant reviews.
Democrats can rally around any of several commonsense withdrawal plans. One of the first was proposed two years ago by former Reagan assistant defense secretary Lawrence Korb, now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress: Withdraw most troops through a strategic redeployment, but keep some troops in the region with a mission of preventing al Qaeda from establishing a new sanctuary there.
They've already got sanctuaries there, fer Gawdsake. What do you think Fallujah was? And Ramadi? What do you think we've been doing all this time? The foxtrot?
Democrats can take their guidance from yet another bit of wisdom from Aiken, who said in 1966: "I'm not very keen for doves or hawks. I think we need more owls."
I think we need more bustards. But both statements are well beside the point.
(Martin Schram writes political analysis for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail him at martin.schram(at)gmail.com.)
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2007-11-20 Southeast Asia
Army explosives experts disarmed a powerful homemade bomb Saturday in a southern Philippine city that has been a target of attacks blamed on al-Qaida-linked militants and extortion gangs.

The bomb, rigged from an 81 mm mortar shell, was found hidden in a cigarette carton outside an auto repair shop at dawn Saturday in Cotabato city. A security guard from a nearby gasoline station called police to report the suspicious box, said Cotabato police chief Senior Superintendent Willie Dangane.

The improvised explosive device may have been intended for another area but because of heavy police and military presence around the city, the would-be bomber may have abandoned it to avoid detection, Dangane said. Security officials have said such mortar bombs are typically used by the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group and the Indonesian-based terror network Jemaah Islamiyah.
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2007-11-16 Southeast Asia
The Philippine government reached an agreement Thursday with the main Islamic separatist group there on carving out boundaries for a Muslim homeland in the south. For years, Philippine officials have held glacially paced talks with the separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, about the extent of a territory that would fall under Muslim control in Mindanao, an impoverished region that has been the scene of an insurrection for decades. In recent years the talks have focused on the control Muslims would wield over natural resources in Mindanao's mineral-rich but economically backward areas.

The Philippine and U.S. governments hope an agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front could transform its vast rural strongholds in Mindanao into hubs of economic growth instead of conflict zones that could harbor terrorists. Military officials have often accused the front of giving sanctuary to members of two terrorist groups, the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah, but the front has denied any links.

"Demarcation has been agreed," Rodolfo Garcia, the chief Philippine government negotiator, told reporters at the end of two days of talks with Moro Islamic Liberation Front officials in Kuala Lumpur. "It is one significant breakthrough we have achieved here."

The two sides still have to craft the exact text of the agreement next month and sign the deal, most likely in January, Garcia said. Othman Abdul Razak, the top Malaysian government facilitator, said Wednesday that another round of exploratory talks was likely in mid-December before a possible resumption of full-fledged negotiations early next year. Demarcation of land has been the biggest hurdle in efforts to forge a peace treaty that would replace a fragile 2003 cease-fire between the Philippine authorities and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Mindanao.

The Philippines is primarily a Roman Catholic nation, and its Muslims are concentrated in Mindanao. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which the military says has 11,000 fighters, is the largest group battling for self-rule there.
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2007-11-14 Southeast Asia
Muslim Representative Wahab Akbar, who was killed by a bomb at the Batasan complex Tuesday night, ruled his southern island province with an iron fist.

Akbar, 47, who helped plant the seeds for what would later become the Abu Sayyaf, was killed as he left the House of Representatives in Quezon City. Three other people also died.

Elected earlier this year as a congressman for Basilan, he built a formidable family dynasty in less than 20 years.

His first wife Jum succeeded him as governor and his second wife, Cherry-lyn, was elected mayor of the capital, Isabela City.

Muslim men are allowed four wives in the Philippines.

In an interview a few years ago Akbar said he was prepared to "instill terror in the hearts" of the people of Basilan to bring peace and development to his "godforsaken land."

Born on April 16, 1959, in the village of Lantawan, he joined the struggle for an independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines at the age of 14, fighting alongside his father in the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) headed by Nur Misuari.

Although he was from a poor background, his father managed to send him to an agricultural school, where he cultivated a flair for public speaking.

He became a Muslim scholar and preacher studying in Syria and Libya where he met Abubakar Abdurajak Janjalani, an MNLF comrade who shared the same belief that the group had betrayed the Filipino Muslims, according to sources.

Together, they launched the Abu Sayyaf and in the 1990s the group made international headlines by launching random bombings and kidnappings targeting foreign tourists and missionaries.

Akbar cut his ties with Janjalani, who was killed in a police raid in 1998. He then became one of the government's staunchest supporters in the war on terror.

Akbar's reason for changing sides is not clear in the murky world that is Philippine politics. Sources say the government had no alternative but to embrace him due to his connections on the island.

While he commanded a strong following in Basilan, he also accumulated a long list of political enemies.

For decades the rugged jungles of Basilan have provided protection for the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf and elements of the Jemaah Islamiyah, the Southeast Asian terror network responsible for the Bali bombings in 2002 that left over 200 dead, many of them foreigners.

Since late last year the Philippine military, assisted by US Special Forces advisers, has waged a relentless campaign against the Abu Sayyaf on Basilan.

At least two of Akbar's associates were said to have been involved in the beheading of 10 Marines earlier this year in an ambush on Basilan, an accusation Akbar denied.
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2007-10-30 Southeast Asia
A Muslim doctor, once linked to the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, is expected to draw strong support from Thailand's three southern provinces when he runs for a lower house seat at the forthcoming election.

Waemahadi Waedaoh, now a senator, will run for a lower house seat in Narathiwat, one of three predominantly Muslim provinces. Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani have also been at the centre of a bloody separatist conflict.

In 2003, Waemahadi was charged with three other Muslims over plans to bomb western embassies and tourist locations in Thailand. He was acquitted by the criminal court for lack of evidence in June 2005, after spending two years in a Bangkok prison. He is now the head of the Sajjanuphab group, which will run under the Puea Pandin party banner.

The senator told ‘The Bangkok Post’ that he decided to run to “offer an alternative for voters in the deep south.” The doctor also expressed confidence that, if elected, Puea Pandin would be able to improve security and stability in the three provinces, where more than 2,600 have been killed since January 2004. “We believe that they will be able to effectively deal with the problems in the deep south, especially the violence," he said.

Waemahadi won Narathiwat’s senatorial race in April 2006, after receiving 97,514 ballots out of the 294,609 polled. The candidate who won the second senate seat, a Muslim woman, received only 30,096 votes. Soon after being elected, the former general practitioner told the media that ''I want to represent the people to fight for justice.”
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2007-10-28 Southeast Asia
Government troops captured three suspected Abu Sayyaf members in Parang, Sulu last Wednesday. Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro, Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Information Office (AFP-PIO) chief, said the three were not immediately identified. They were cornered by combined elements of the Air Force and the Light Reaction Co. (LRC) at their safehouse in Poblacion Parang at about 11 a.m. the other day. "The raid only lasted for about five minutes with negative resistance," Bacarro said.

Aside from the arrest of the terrorists, the military raiding team recovered a caliber .30 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) with five magazines and bullets and a Springfield Garand rifle from the suspects’ safehouse.

The involvement of the elite LRC that were trained by US military advisers was reportedly part of the operations to capture Indonesian terrorists Dulmatin and Umar Patek, both members of the international terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah. Bacarro refused to confirm or deny that targets of the latest operations were Dulmatin and Patek who are suspects in the bombings in Bali, Indonesia, where 202 people were killed on Oct. 12, 2002. The US government has offered a reward of $10 million for the capture of Dulmatin and $1 million for Patek.

Dulmatin and Patek slipped into Mindanao in 2005 and established links with the Abu Sayyaf to escape the crackdown launched by Indonesian security forces against the suspects. The military said more than two dozen other Indonesian militants working with JI are hiding in Mindanao.
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2007-10-26 Southeast Asia
(AKI) - The alleged spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, Southeast Asia’s largest terrorist group, has revealed he wrote a letter to US President George W. Bush, asking him not to use God’s name to destroy Islam. In an interview with the online site Asia Times, Muslim cleric, Abu Bakar Bashir, also called on Muslims to fight Washington with words and not with violence and bombs.

But he also declined to condemn the terrorists convicted of the 2002 Bali bombing which killed 202 people. "The bombers are actually counter terrorists because they are opposing US terrorism," he said. "They are mujahids."
Right. That makes sense. Not a lot of sense, but sense. In an Islamic kind of way.
Bashir did not specify when he wrote to the US president. He did, however, say he had asked Bush to abandon his ‘War on Terror’ and convert to the Muslim faith. “The only way Bush can survive is for him to do what is being ordered by God, which is to believe in Islam, to convert to Islam,” said Bashir.

The controversial religious leader claimed the US was spreading the message that all terrorists are Islamists, and that all Muslims who fight for sharia [Islamic law] are being stigmatised, arrested and imprisoned. “America is instigating a war of ideas, therefore we should fight back with our own war of thoughts, issues, preaching," the cleric said. "What we try to do is counter the lies, break down the lies. This activity in and of itself is much more productive and efficient than bombing."

Bashir said that although Indonesian bombers’ intentions were “right,” their methods were “wrong.” He then argued that bombing 'safe' places such as Bali and the Marriot hotel in Jakarta gave ammunition to the Americans. “When events occur, they (are) taken as justification by the government and US,” he said. “It is easy for them (Islamists) to become prey to US efforts to stigmatise all Muslims.”

Bashir, aged 69, was released from prison in 2006 after serving two years in Jakarta's Cipinang penitentiary for conspiracy in the 2002 Bali bombings. His conviction was later overturned in appeal. He has consistently denied any connection to that or other attacks blamed on JI, whose objective is the creation of a caliphate in the region. He has also often denied the mere existence of the terror group. The cleric is on a US list of terrorists.
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2007-10-16 Southeast Asia
Manila (AKI) - The largest Muslim rebel group in the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has rejected the government's claims that the terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) has a tunnel complex near the MILF’s former base on the southern island of Mindanao.

The former base is located at Mt. Cararao, in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao.

In an interview published on Luwaran, the MILF website, a junior officer of the MILF armed wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), described the accusation as “another last-ditch attempt [of the government] to revive the issue of terrorism in Mindanao.”

The media in the Philippines recently reported the claims of the JI tunnel complex in MILF territory.

The allegation was attributed to an unnamed military intelligence source that likened the JI’s new base at Mt. Manggaturing, near the MILF former base at Mt. Cararao, to the al-Qaeda’s Tora-Bora hideout in Afghanistan.

Tora-Bora is a mountain complex of tunnels and caves in Afghanistan where al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, is believed to have taken refuge in the past.

The BIAF officer said that Mt. Cararao is volcanic and cannot allow for safe tunnels, while Tora-Bora is rocky and strenuous.

“Obviously the military agent has not gone into Cararao and the story is a mere fantasy,” he said.

The BIAF officer asked for the establishment of an independent team to travel to Cararao and Magaturingen to verify the existence of the tunnels.

The MILF has been fighting for an independent Islamic state in Mindanao for the past 30 years.

The group used to have close links with JI, an Indonesia-based terror organization that struggles to unite most of Southeast Asia into an Islamic caliphate.

The MILF-JI link was 'officially' broken when the late MILF chairman, Salamat Hashim, asked US President George W. Bush to mediate with Manila. Washington's commitment was partially based on the MILF's pledge to renounce terrorism, which was made public by Hashim in a policy statement released on June 20, 2003.

However, experts still believe that individual MILF commanders coddle members of JI and the Abu Sayyaf.

The Abu Sayyaf is a Filipino homegrown terror group based in the Sulu Archipelago.
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2007-10-15 Southeast Asia
Three Muslim militants on death row for their involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings will not seek clemency from the Indonesian president, their last avenue of appeal, a report said today. “We do not want a (presidential) pardon,” Imam Samudra was quoted as saying by Kompas online. “A pardon is a democratic law that we oppose.”

Samudra and brothers Amrozi and Ali Ghufron await the firing squad for their role in the 2002 nightclub bombings on the holiday island that killed 202 people. The attacks have been blamed on local militant organisation Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Indonesia’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the three in August but no date has so far been set for their executions.

Samudra, speaking in his usual fiery style after attending Eid al-Fitr prayers with his two accomplices at their jail in Central Java on Saturday, said his group was not guilty in the eyes of God. “We will enter heaven,” Samudra said. “A (presidential) pardon is sought by those who are guilty and we are not guilty.”

“We are ready to die in any manner, as long as this death is blessed by Allah,” Samudra said, adding that he would prefer to be beheaded rather than shot.

Indonesian officials have ruled out beheading, an Islamic-sanctioned punishment. Legal executions in Indonesia are carried out by firing squad. “Me and my friends will go to heaven,” Samudra said in English, adding in Indonesian that “When we die, we will have the company of 70 beautiful angels. Isn’t that something nice?”

Samudra said that the bombings were well-planned actions in the name of Jihad, or holy war, and that they were not mere emotional reactions, Kompas reported. Last month, the three men signed a final statement that was reported to have read: “If we are executed, then the drops of our blood will, God willing, become a ray of light for Muslims and become hell for infidels and hypocrites. The statement also said the three would continue to engage in jihad if they were pardoned and released from prison.
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2007-10-09 Southeast Asia
The three Bali bombers on death row in Indonesia are ready to face their imminent execution, a report said here Monday.
Then get on with it. Less talk, more gunshots.
"This is the happiest period for us, because we are soon to die as martyrs," Ali Ghufron, the eldest of three bombers, told the Koran Tempo daily from his jail off the southern coast of Java island.
So far, it's the happiest period for the rest of the world, barring the lurking unease that they might be pardoned for Ramadan or something. But we're gonna be even happier, maybe even delirious with joy, once they're beyond all cares and woe.
Ghufron, 47, his younger brother Amrozi and another man, Iman Samudra, were convicted of the nightclub bombings on the resort isle in 2002 that killed 202 people. The attacks were blamed on the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militant network linked to Al-Qaeda. Indonesia's Supreme Court in August rejected their appeal and the men have been quoted as saying they would not seek clemency from the president, their last avenue of appeal.
Good idea. You wouldn't want his clemency, anyway. It'd be yucky. Better to just bite the bullet, so to speak.
Achmad Michdan, one of their lawyers, could not be immediately reached for confirmation the three had waived their rights to demand a presidential pardon. No date has been released for the executions, which could take place at any time and are expected to be carried out by firing squad. Last month, the three men signed a final statement reported to read: "If we are executed, then the jets and drops of our blood will, God willing, become a ray of light for Muslims and become hell for infidels and hypocrites." The statement also said that they would continue to engage in jihad -- holy war -- if they were pardoned and released from prison.
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2007-10-07 Southeast Asia
A seriously wounded 12-year old girl died, taking the toll to two in two blasts that occurred near a supermarket and a hotel in the southern Philippines on Friday, the police chief said.

Philippine National Police Director General Avelino Razon Jr yesterday in Mindanao blamed the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) for the attacks.

Heidi Lozada, 12, died before midnight of Friday, five hours after an explosion occurred near Sugni Supermarket on Quezon Ave in Kidapawan City, which instantly killed Honney May Lozada, 8, and wounded 30 others, most of them college students, said

Police forces across the country were placed on alert to prevent a repeat of the blasts in the south, said Razon. Razon identified arrested suspect George German, 27, as a member of the JI, a Southeast Asian conduit of the Al Qaida terror network, which has forged an alliance with the Abu Sayyaf Group, terror group based in the south. "Bomb experts were sure the bomb explosions bore the JI signature," said Razon.

Denying any responsibility for the blast near the Sugni Supermarket, German told reporters, "I was drinking with friends when the explosion happened. I was shocked, so I tried to run away so as not to be harmed." Eyewitnesses saw German leaving an explosive device between two parked vehicles, claimed Police Chief Leo Ajero of Kidapawan City.
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2007-10-02 Southeast Asia
Six Indonesian Muslim militants, alleged members of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terrorist network, went on trial Monday and face the death penalty if convicted. Government prosecutors charged the six, who are believed to be followers of captured JI military commander Abu Dujana, with conspiracy to commit terrorism, storing explosive materials, and illegally possessing firearms and ammunition.

The six defendants are Ahmad Syahrul, alias Faisal; Mahfudz Gomari; Sekas, alias Karim; Amir Ahmadi, alias Ubu Jundy; Suparjo, alias Sarwo Edi; and Maulana Yusuf Wibisono, alias Kholis. They are being tried in four different trials at the Central Jakarta District Court. They are being prosecuted under anti-terrorism laws enacted just weeks after the October 2002 bombings of two nightspots on the Indonesian resort island of Bali that killed more than 200 people. JI was blamed for those attacks and several other bombings across Indonesia in recent years.

The six were arrested separately in March by a counterterrorism police unit, Detachment 88, in Surabaya, East Java, in the Central Java district of Sukoharjo and following a shootout in Yogyakarta, Central Java, that left one of their group dead. In the raids, police seized caches of weapons, thousands of rounds of ammunition, explosives and chemicals that could be used to make a bomb bigger that those used on Bali. Their arrests directly led to the capture of Dujana, who was nabbed in early June in Banyumas, Central Java, after a police raid on his hideout.

Indonesian authorities have said Dujana had replaced Malaysian explosives expert Noordin M Top, another senior JI figure, as the nation's most-wanted fugitive. Top narrowly escaped a police raid in March and remains on the run.

Dujana is believed to have played a major role in both Bali attacks and the embassy blast and controlled JI's ammunition and explosives. He is also accused of providing them to militants involved in sectarian violence in Poso in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province.
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2007-09-25 Southeast Asia
Indonesia's Supreme Court has rejected final appeals from all three Islamic militants on death row for the 2002 Bali bombings, meaning they face execution by firing squad.

A request by one of the bombers, Amrozi, for a case review - the final legal avenue for appeal under Indonesian law - was rejected earlier this month. Now his two accomplices have also had their requests rejected, Supreme Court spokesman Nurhadi told the online Detikcom news agency. "Their appeals have all been rejected," he said, referring as well to Imam Samudra and Ali Gufron.

The horrific 2002 Bali bombings killed 202 people, mostly foreign holidaymakers, and dragged the south-east Asian region into the so-called global "war on terror".

The attacks were blamed on the regional extremist network Jemaah Islamiyah, which was then linked to Al Qaeda. The three bombers had been appealing on the grounds of a constitutional court ruling that anti-terrorism laws used to convict them introduced after the bombings could not be applied retroactively. None of the trio has expressed remorse over the attacks. A lawyer for the men said earlier this month that they were ready to die after signing a last statement reportedly vowing their deaths would lead to "hell for infidels."

"If we are executed, then the jets and drops of our blood will, God willing, become a ray of light for Muslims and become hell for infidels and hypocrites," reported the Koran Tempo, which obtained the statement.

Besides the three death sentences, Indonesian courts have issued two life sentences and more than 30 other long jail terms for people involved in the Bali attacks or for helping hide the key players when they went on the run.
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2007-09-20 Southeast Asia
Roughly "A dozen members of a US Special Forces advisory group," operating on a rotation basis with Philippine Military in the Mindanao region, "Have been deployed to the Island province of Basilan." radio reports in Manila said Thursday. The area has seen in the last three months, "heavy fighting," between U.S. backed Philippine forces and members of the Islamic terrorist organization, The Al Harakatul Al Islamiyah or Abu Sayyaf, and Jemaah Islamiyah or JI.

The U.S. units, primarily provide technical and humanitarian support in coordination with the Philippine Armed Forces. "The deployment was at the request of Philippine Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command." Philippine military officials told the PNC bureau in Manila that the deployment is not of a combat nature, but, is near an area of "recent heavy fighting."

"Primarily, the request was to help with medical and communications logistics." reports went on to say, "The operations of the JUSTOF-P or Joint Special Operations Task Force—Philippines often involve non-combat technical support and ’synergy’ with Philippine forces." Philippine Armed Forces officials told reporters early Thursday morning in Maniia.

Armed, but only authorized to fire in self defense, the units have had a history of a high level of success in civil-military “hearts and minds,” operations.

The units often are comprised of medics, technical support staff, civil military humanitarian teams, and, engineers.

The U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii, which has operational supervision over JUSTOF-P activities, does not issue comments on the "Ongoing operations and projects," of the members of JUSTOF-P. The Philippine Military Spokesman, in Mindanao stressed all actions are in strict compliance with U.S. - Philippine agreements and law.

Terrorist groups like the Abu Sayyaf, operating in the Southern Philippines have a long history of ties to Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorist organizations.

The Philippines is a former US Commonwealth, as well as a major Non-NATO ally of the U.S.A., and has a treaty of mutual defense as well as access agreements for ‘training and cooperation.’

US Announces $190 Million Dollar Aid Package For Mindanao

Wednesday, The U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney announced a new aid package of support of economic and infrastructure programs and funds to help the Philippine peace process.

The Malaysian brokered and U.S. funded peace talks hope to end nearly 34 years of Insurgent fighting between Islamic separatists of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or M.I.L.F. a combination of development assistance, education grants, and direct funding of livelihood programs by the U.S. Agency for International development have largely reduced the level of fighting in Mindanao.

One group, the Moro National Liberation Front has already entered into a peace agreement with government. In 1999 U.S. funded peace accord, reducing by several thousand the number of armed rebels in the region.
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2007-09-12 Southeast Asia
(Xinhua) -- An alleged bomber said to have ties to the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militant group was arrested in General Santos City in south Philippines before he could stage a bombing attack on a mall there, local TV network GMA News reported Tuesday.

The report said the bomb suspect, Maipasagi Gani, was caught with an 81-mm mortar with nails, a rifle grenade and a cell phone to be used as a detonator. He said he was instructed to plant the bomb in a shopping mall in the city on Tuesday, to coincide with the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, according to the report.
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2007-08-22 Southeast Asia
An Indonesian court has rejected a class action lawsuit filed by hardline cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who had sought the disbanding of the police's anti-terrorism unit. Bashir, who has been accused by foreign governments of being the spiritual head of regional Islamic extremist network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), had alleged the unit violated human rights.

The 68-year-old served more than two years in jail for his role in the Bali bombings in October 2002, which left 202 people dead and were blamed on JI. Among the dead were 88 Australians, for whom the anti-terrorism unit was named. Bashir's lawyers had demanded the court declare the actions of the US and Australian-funded unit in violation of the law for making arbitrary arrests.

The unit, known as Detachment 88, has made a string of militant arrests in recent years, including several high-profile catches this year. Judge Wachyono told a hearing at the South Jakarta District Court the class action suit filed by Bashir's lawyers in June did not meet legal requirements. "The panel of judges is of the opinion that the defendant did not provide details on which groups he represents and therefore the suit is unclear and vague," he said.

The suit alleged officers from the unit had used torture to obtain confessions and that their work discriminated against Muslims as they were the unit's sole targets. About 70 supporters of Bashir protested the verdict by banging on tables and shouting, "Disband Detachment 88!" and "Allahu Akbar!" (Holy Shit! God is greater).
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2007-08-21 Southeast Asia
Malaysia's government has freed another four suspected Islamic militants jailed without trial for more than four years but authorities have restricted their movements, activists said Monday. It was the second release this year of alleged militants held under the Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial. Four men were freed in June.

The latest four releases came on Aug. 15, 16 and 17 from the Kamunting prison camp in northern Malaysia, rights group Abolish ISA Movement said in a statement. The suspects were freed on the condition that they remain within the districts in which they live. Three of the men - Shukry Omar Talib, Mohammed Kadar and Mohamad Azmi Abdul Karim - were arrested in early 2002 while Shahime Ramli was detained in March 2003. All were held on suspicion of being members of the regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah, the rights group said.

The group called for the restrictions to be lifted so that they could return to normal life. It also slammed the "selective releases" of ISA detainees by authorities, saying another 40 JI suspects held under the security law remained in Kamunting. The group called on the government to "release or prosecute all ISA detainees in Kamunting."

Internal Security Ministry officials could not be immediately reached for comment. The government usually does not publicly announce the release of people held under the ISA. No reason was given for the release, but security officials have said in previous cases that suspects were freed after they repented following intensive rehabilitation. Hundreds of people were arrested under the ISA in a sweep against Jemaah Islamiyah and its local affiliate, Kumpulan Militan Malaysia, mostly between 2001 and 2003. Jemaah Islamiyah is widely blamed for a string of terror attacks in the region, most notably the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly Western tourists.

Malaysian opposition groups and activists have called for the ISA to be repealed, saying the law is widely abused to silence dissidents, but officials insist it is necessary to protect national security and ensure stability.
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2007-08-18 Southeast Asia
A Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militant wanted for the 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia, was reportedly wounded during an encounter between Army troops and Islamic extremists in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, the military said on Thursday. The information on JI member Dulmatin, which is being validated, was based on reports from soldiers who were involved in the firefight in Maimbung town on Aug. 9 and civilian informants, the military chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. told reporters.

Abu Sayyaf leader Doc Abu was also wounded in the same gun battle that left 15 government soldiers killed and several others wounded, Esperon said. Dulmatin carries a 10-million U.S. dollar bounty for his capture. He is believed to be hiding in Sulu with another suspect in the 2002 Bali attacks, Umar Patek.
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2007-07-08 Southeast Asia
Australia on Sunday warned terrorist attacks may be imminent in Indonesia. The foreign affairs department upgraded its official travel advisory on Indonesia to warn that it had reports terrorists were planning attacks against Western interests. "There have been recent arrests of high level terrorist operatives in Indonesia, but we assess terrorists are continuing active planning of attacks," the advisory said. "These attacks could take place at any time and could be imminent. Particular care should be taken at this time to avoid known terrorist targets."

It said previous attacks against westerners in Indonesia indicated Bali and Jakarta were priority targets but added "terrorist attacks could occur at any time, anywhere in Indonesia".

Australia has advised its citizens to reconsider travel to Indonesia since the first Bali bombing in October 2002, in which 88 Australians were among the 202 killed, but Sunday's upgrade adds the warning of imminent attacks. It comes after the head of Islamic extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Zarkasi, and the leader of its military wing, Abu Dujana, were arrested by Indonesian police last month along with six other suspected militants.

While the arrests were seen as a major blow to JI, an unnamed member of the organisation told a TV channel last month that the lack of leadership could make it more dangerous.
I think I've come to the conclusion that in Wireserviceland there's nothing, nothing that will make bad guy organizations less dangerous.
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2007-06-29 Southeast Asia
Philippine officials said Thursday they believe a top Indonesian terror suspect is still hiding on southern Jolo island, amid reports he had slipped out to escape a U.S.-backed manhunt. Army Brig. Gen. Ruperto Pabustan, who heads an anti-terrorism force on Jolo, said Dulmatin was still there, based on the latest information. A military intelligence officer said he might have fled for neighboring Malaysia. "We still believe that he could not turn his back on Umar Patek, who we believe is also still here," Pabustan told The Associated Press by telephone from Jolo, about 950 kilometers (590 miles) south of Manila.

Dulmatin and Umar Patek, another militant from the Indonesia-based group Jemaah Islamiyah, are believed to have fled to the southern Philippines in 2003 to escape a massive Indonesian manhunt after they were implicated in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people. They have been together since the 1990s in the eastern Indonesian city of Ambon, where Muslims and Christians fought bloody battles, according to an intelligence report. Washington has offered a US$10 million (euro7.4 million) reward for the capture or killing of Dulmatin, an expert bomb-maker who has been identified by his wife as Ammar Usman from Indonesia's Petarukan region.

A military intelligence officer said Dulmatin appeared to have fled in recent weeks toward Malaysia, citing military tracking of his communications. A police intelligence officer said Dulmatin has slipped out of Jolo but may still be in the southern Philippines, assessing whether it would be safe for him to return to Indonesia, where a recent crackdown led to the fall of Jemaah Islamiyah's top twoleaders. Dulmatin was last monitored on May 10 on Simunol island, in Tawi Tawi province near Jolo, where government troops found his four children but failed to capture him after he apparently detected the pre-dawn raid.
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2007-06-28 Southeast Asia
Malaysia's government has released four suspected Islamic militants jailed without trial for more than five years, but authorities are still restricting their movements, activists said Saturday.

The four men were arrested in January and February 2002 under the Internal Security Act, or ISA - which allows indefinite detention without trial - during a crackdown on the al-Qaida-linked Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah and its Malaysian affiliate, Kumpulan Militan Malaysia.

The four were released June 15 from the Kamunting prison camp in northern Malaysia, and informed of conditions restricting their movement in the districts where they live, said a statementfrom the Abolish ISA Movement, a Malaysian human rights group.

Internal Security Ministry officials could not be immediately be contacted for comment Saturday. The government usually does not always publicly announce the release of people held under the ISA.

The Abolish ISA Movement identified the four men as Ahmad Yani Ismail, Mohamad Sha Sarijan, Roshelmy Mohamad Sharif and Abdullah Mohamed Noor - all accused by authorities of being Jemaah Islamiyah members.

No reason was given for the release, but security officials have said in previous cases that suspects were freed after they repented following intensive rehabilitation.

It was Malaysia's first release of alleged militants since October 2006.

More than 200 suspected members of Jemaah Islamiyah and Kumpulan Militan Malaysia have been arrested under the ISA, mostly between 2001 and 2003.

Activists estimate that up to 70 of them remain held without trial in Kamunting.

International and Malaysian human rights groups say the ISA has tarnished Malaysia's rights record. Government officials insist it is necessary to protect national security and ensure stability.

Jemaah Islamiyah, which officials say wants to create an Islamic state across much of Southeast Asia, has been blamed for the 2002 bombings on Indonesia's resort island of Bali, attacksin 2003 and 2004 on the J.W. Marriott Hotel and Australian Embassy in Jakarta, and triple suicide bombings in 2005 on restaurants in Bali.
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2007-06-26 Southeast Asia
Stolen Muslim land drives the hatred of Indonesia-based extremist network Jemaah Islamiyah for the west, the group’s jailed military boss told CNN in an interview broadcast on Monday. Abu Dujana, one of Southeast Asia’s most wanted men, was arrested by Indonesian anti-terror police on June 9 as he rode a motorcycle with three of his four young children. Police say he is linked to several major bombings that have rocked Indonesia in recent years, including the 2002 Bali attacks. Analysts however have said they are sceptical of his involvement in that bombing, which left 202 dead. He has claimed he was against the 2003 bombing of the Marriott hotel in the Indonesian capital Jakarta. In the interview with CNN at a police station in the central city of Yogyakarta, Dujana, shown handcuffed and smiling, said he thought “Americans or other civilians can become a target - that’s how I see it.” Asked where the hatred of the west came from, he replied: “Many lands owned by Muslims have been taken away by our enemies.
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2007-06-22 Southeast Asia
Top Indonesian terror suspect Abu Dujana will face charges of weapons and explosives possession under anti-terror laws that carry a maximum penalty of death, a police spokesmansaid Wednesday. Dujana, arrested June 9 on Indonesia's Java island, has been identified by police as the military head of the Southeast Asian militant network Jemaah Islamiyah. "He will be charged under the anti-terror law over possession of weapons and explosives," said Maj. Insp. Gen. Sisno Adiwinoto.

Sisno said Dujana would also face charges of harboring Malaysian fugitive Noordin Top, wanted for alleged involvement in a series of bomb attacks in Indonesia. Militants linked to Jemaah Islamiyah have been blamed for several bombings in Indonesia - the world's most populous Muslim nation - including the 2002 nightclub attacks on Bali island that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, and three otherbloody strikes against Western targets since then. Sisno did not rule out that Dujana would also face charges over those bombings and the beheadings of three Christian school girls in eastern Indonesia in 2005.
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2007-06-22 Southeast Asia
The tracking of cell phones by Australian police via U.S. satellites was central to the arrests of two key Indonesian terror suspects, underscoring the role Western nations play in battling extremism in the world's most populous Muslimnation.

Vital details are only now emerging about this month's arrests, which struck a major blow against a Southeast Asian militant network blamed for deadly suicide bombings. Indonesian police seized Zarkasih, identified by police as the head of Jemaah Islamiyah, and Abu Dujana, the group's military commander, on June 9. Six other alleged Jemaah Islamiyah members also were picked up.

Also key to the capture of the Afghan-trained pair was information from suspects arrested earlier in a raid on a militant stronghold, and a web of paid informants and former militants working to persuade hard-liners to change sides, according to police officers and Gen. Ansyaad Mbai, a top anti-terror official.

Jemaah Islamiyah members and associates have been blamed for deadly bombings on the resort island of Bali and attacks on the J.W. Marriott Hotel and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. The bombings - some of which police say were carried out with funds and direction from al-Qaida - together killed more than 240 people, mostly Western tourists.

Despite a crackdown that has resulted in hundreds of arrests, police and former militants say the threat of another terror strike remains high because the most dangerous extremists have long stopped operating under Jemaah Islamiyah's command. "The more people who have learned the skills of jihad, the harder things are to control," said Abu Rusdan, a militant cleric who authorities say was a Jemaah Islamiyah leader in 2003. "They feel obliged to carry out actions wherever they are, whether itbe Malaysia, Singapore or Indonesia."

Details of foreign assistance in Indonesian police work are not normally made public for fear that doing so could trigger a backlash in the country, where suspicion of the governments of the U.S. and Australia runs high.
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2007-06-21 Southeast Asia
Roll out the ululator! And the inspector's lucky truncheon!
Jakarta, 21 June (AKI) - Indonesian police have arrested key Bali bombing suspect, Malaysian national Noordin Mohammed Top, the well respected Detikcom news agency reports. He is considered the mastermind behind a series of bombings in Indonesia, including the 2002 and 2005 Bali nightclub attacks which killed over 250 people. Police arrested Top on 14 June, in Brebes Central Java and intend to announce this on 1 July - national police day in Indonesia, Detikcom said, quoting an unnamed source.

The report of Top's arrest follows that of the arrest of Abu Dujana, the alleged military commander of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist network and Zarkasih, believed to be JI's supreme leader. Zarkasih (also known by the aliases Nuaim, Abu Irsyad and Mbah). Both men were seized on 9 June in an anti terrorist police raid in Banyumas, central Java, the chief of indonesia's anti-terrorist unit announced last Friday.

Indonesia's most wanted fugitive, Top was once one of the leaders of JI. According to experts, the Malaysian is believed to have created his own splinter group, after JI expressed a preference for preaching instead of armed struggle. JI is responsible for a string of deadly terror attacks in Indonesia in recent years including the 2002 and 2005 Bali attacks and bombings of the Marriott Hotel and the Australian embassy in Jakarta.

Noordin is now believed to be the head of the group known as Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad - which is said to be the original name of al-Qaeda. Sidney Jones the Southeast Asia director of the International Crisis Group recently told Adnkronos International she believes there is still a link between Noordin and the radical elements within JI - represented by Abu Dujana - but the level of collaboration is still unclear. Her view is shared by other experts.

JI is believed to recruit both through a select number of Islamic colleges and also through family ties. The terrorist group was created towards the end of the 1980s by a group of Indonesian exiles in Malaysia.
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2007-06-19 Terror Networks
Based on initial interrogations of top Jemaah Islamiyah members who were captured over the past week, the Indonesian police are now painting a picture of a terrorist organization attempting to consolidate in the face of heavy attrition.

According to the police, JI has now done away with its earlier region-wide mantiqi ("regional command") structure. Previously, JI had four mantiqi covering large portions of Southeast Asia and Australia. At its peak (prior to late 2002), each mantiqi consisted of up to a dozen wakilah, and each wakilah were comprised of several fiah, or cells. Overseeing all this was a markaz, a small headquarters consisting of top JI members.

It is now understood that JI still recognizes a markaz. But under the markaz, JI now divides itself into four ishoba which only cover the Indonesian island of Java. These ishoba are named after historical figures in Islam.

Ishoba I, based in Solo (Central Java), is named Zaid bin Haritsah, who was the adopted son of the Prophet Mohammad and one of Islam's first military leaders. The authorities have not confirmed who heads this ishoba.

Ishoba II, based in Semarang (Central Java), was headed by Sarwo Edi, who was wounded and captured in Jogjakarta this past March. This ishoba is named after Jafar bin Abu Thalib, the son of Mohammad's uncle and one of the first converts to Islam.

Ishoba III, based in Surabaya (East JavA), was headed by Kholis, who was also captured this past March. According to a police statement, this ishoba is named Abdullah bin Roah (this transliterated spelling is probably incorrect, as it does not appear to correspond to any prominent figure in Islam).

Ishoba IV, based in Jakarta, is named Khalid bin Walid, who was a famous general during the Muslim conquests of the Seventh Century. The police are still uncertain who heads this ishoba.

The authorities arew still not certain how the JI presence in provinces outside of Java fits into the new ishoba structure. The police also insist that there are several prominent JI members that have yet to be captured, and they are not reducing their vigilance after this week's arrests.
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2007-06-10 Southeast Asia
Singapore has arrested five suspected Islamic militants under tough security laws allowing detention without trial, the government said. Four of the five arrested between November and April are alleged members of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings in Indonesia among other attacks, the home ministry said. Ishak Mohamed Noohu, one of those detained, is a senior member of JI’s Singapore wing and has undergone militant training in the Philippines, it added in a statement late Friday. He was also involved in several plans by JI to attack foreign targets in Singapore as well as a plot to hijack a plane and crash it into Changi Airport, the statement added. Another detainee, law lecturer Abdul Basheer Abdul Kader, was a “self-radicalised” militant who planned to pursue jihad in Afghanistan. Such cases are “a troubling new phenomenon today of individuals who are self-radicalised, independent of direct recruitment by established terrorist groups,” said the ministry. All five are held under Singapore’s Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial.
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2007-06-03 Southeast Asia
Top leaders of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group were killed through a combination of sustained military operations and development aid, the Philippine defense minister said Sunday. Months of community dialogue, medical assistance and infrastructure projects on the southern Philippine island of Jolo underpinned military operations that led to the killing of the group's top leaders, Hermogenes Ebdane said.

"The world witnessed the fall of the elusive leaders of the Abu Sayyaf group in several military encounters," Ebdane said in an address to the Shangri-La Dialogue, a meeting of regional defense chiefs in Singapore. "What the world did not see were the operations that applied the combination of hard and soft approaches to addressing terrorism," he said.

The military launched a major offensive last August on volatile Jolo, about 960 kilometers (600 miles) south of Manila. It targeted leaders of Abu Sayyaf and another group, Jemaah Islamiyah, who together have been blamed for attacks including a bomb blast on a ferry in Manila Bay in 2004 that killed 116 people. Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khaddafy Janjalani and his presumed successor, Abu Sulaiman, were both killed in the operations, part of a campaign that began in 2002 to apply a combination of humanitarian work and military tactics to win over the local Muslim population and marginalize militants.

Washington has funded roads, schools, and other civic projects on Jolo, and the U.S. military has helped train and arm underfunded Philippine forces and often flies P3 Orion spy planes to help track insurgents hiding in Jolo's tropical jungles.

The battle setbacks have driven more than 300 Abu Sayyaf remnants, split into at least six factions, along with a few Indonesian terror suspects, deeper into the jungle and provided a months long respite from violence in Jolo's townships.

Ebdane said heightened interaction between the government and local communities constricted Abu Sayyaf's previously unhampered room for activity and produced intelligence on the location of top leaders. Military operations on land and control of the surrounding seas — the fighters' traditional route of escape — further strangled the group's operating space, he said. "It is this combination of developmental and military tools that led to the fall of the top leaders," Ebdane said.

Despite its recent setbacks, Abu Sayyaf has staged occasional attacks seeking to reassert itself as a terror force. In April, one faction beheaded seven men they had kidnapped and had the heads delivered by civilians to the doors of two army detachments on Jolo.
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2007-05-25 Southeast Asia
The apparent recent success of Indonesian authorities in stemming violent attacks by the Indonesian-based, Islamist terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (“Islamic Community”) following arrests in March has some experts suggesting the Al-Qaeda-inspired group has been damaged beyond repair. Key arrests of seven alleged JI members in raids in Central and East Java in March by Indonesian counter-terrorism authorities which also uncovered an enormous cache of explosives and weaponry and JI documents revealing an organizational split in the group, has analysts talking about the beginning of the end for Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

However a key report delivered earlier this month by independent conflict resolution think tank the International Crisis Group (ICG) argues the terror group, though damaged by the arrests, may be in a “building and consolidation phase” and are far from finished as a potent force. Press reports of bomb blasts in the southern Philippines island of Mindanao blamed on JI operatives since the release of the report would seem to back up the ICG’s view. “JI is in a building and consolidation phase which for the most part means that it is unlikely to be interested in large, expensive operations that could further weaken its support base,” says the ICG’s South East Asia expert Sidney Jones in the ICG report released on May 3, 2007.

The report said the documents captured during the March police raids showed a serious split in the organization between those who favour small-scale cheap attacks against individual targets which would reduce Muslim fatalities and those, like suspected Bali bomber Noordin Mohammed Top, who prefer larger-scale,more dramatic amd more expensive acts of violence against Western targets. Top has split from the mainstream Jemaah Islamiyah organization though is believed to retain some ties with the group.
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2007-05-15 India-Pakistan
Indonesia and Pakistan have agreed to work together to stamp out radical Islam as part of efforts to stop future deadly militant attacks, a report stated Monday. The two countries have formed a joint working group amid concerns that some Indonesians have attended Islamic schools in Pakistan and have later undergone training in extremist camps, said Indonesian senior anti-terror officer Ansyaad Mbai. “We will work together in a joint working group to find, among other things, a new method to eradicate Islamic radicalism that often becomes the root of terrorism,” Mbai was quoted as saying by the state Antara news agency. He did not say whether Pakistani officials had visited the Southeast Asian nation recently to formalise the agreement, nor who would makeup the group. Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has seen deadly bombing attacks in recent years blamed on the Al Qaeda-linked regional extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah.
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2007-05-06 Southeast Asia
A local court has ordered the arrest of a senior leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and ten others in connection with simultaneous attacks that killed three soldiers in the restive southern island of Jolo. Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, the military commander for western Mindanao, said the warrants include 3 counts for murder, two counts for frustrated murder and six counts for attempted murder.

Troops were battling Malik’s forces accused of attacking a Marine base and the town hall of Panamao town on April 13, killing three soldiers and a civilian. The military also accused Malik’s group of sheltering Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah militants on the island in Sulu province, about 950 kilometer south of Manila. “He is a fugitive and we will help the police track down and arrest Malik and those involved in the attacks,” Cedo told Arab News yesterday.

Malik has denied military allegations that his group was coddling terrorists. Malik accused the military of attacking MNLF forces and killing civilians in the guise of pursuing the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiyah.
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2007-04-14 Terror Networks
An alleged al Qaeda leader being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, denied involvement in bombings in both Indonesia and Singapore, according to a transcript of his hearing released yesterday. Riduan bin Isomuddin, known as "Hambali," either declined to answer or said he had no involvement with the operations brought forth during his April 4 combatant status review tribunal hearing at the detention facility.

The tribunal was an administrative hearing to determine only if the detainee could be designated as an enemy combatant. Hambali said that while he was a member of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian militant Islamic organization, he had no interaction with al Qaeda.

Evidence presented during the hearing showed that he had been the operations chief of Jemaah Islamiyah and served as its main contact for al Qaeda in Southeast Asia. He also helped recruit members for al Ghuraba, the foreign student organization that helped develop Jemaah Islamiyah organization in Pakistan. He also had served as the leader of the Malaysia Mujahedin group, according to U.S. government information presented in the hearing. That group's mission is to topple the Indonesian government. During the hearing, a Federal Bureau of Investigation source was cited as having contact with Hambali when he orchestrated and funded the December 2000 bombing of a church in Indonesia that killed 18 people.

An FBI source also stated that in January 2002 the detainee discussed carrying out attacks in bars, cafes and night clubs frequented by westerners in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia. The source said the detainee claimed to have 1 ton of explosives within Indonesia.

After Hambali allegedly discussed bombing such places and having large amounts of explosives, at least 187 people were killed and more than 300 foreign tourists were injured in October 2002 when an explosion destroyed a nightclub on the Indonesian resort island of Bali. In his hearing, Hambali denied having supervised the plan to bomb the U.S., Australian and British embassies in Singapore. However, an FBI source stated that the detainee served as the point man between al Qaeda operatives and the mastermind in this plan, which government officials called the "Singapore plot."

Other evidence presented during the hearing showed that a document seized during Hambali's arrest provided instructions for manufacturing vest bombs used by suicide bombers. However, Hambali said he had "no answer" when he was asking during the hearing what his involvement was in making explosives.

The hearing came to a close when the hearing president said an assessment would be made as to whether the detainee continued to pose a threat to the United States or coalition partners in the ongoing conflict against terrorist organizations. The detainee was told that he would have the opportunity to be heard and to present relevant information later to an administrative review board.

The government implemented the CSRTs in July 2004 in response to a June 28, 2004, Supreme Court ruling in the case of Rasul v. Bush. The court ruled that enemy combatants held by the U.S. government had the right to contest their status before a judge or other neutral decision maker. Between July 2004 and March 2005, DoD conducted 558 CSRTs at Guantanamo Bay. At the time, 38 detainees were determined to no longer meet the definition of enemy combatant, and 520 detainees were found to be enemy combatants.
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2007-04-10 Southeast Asia
Singapore is holding 39 people for involvement in terrorism and espionage, the government said Monday. Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng told Parliament that the 39 are being held under the Internal Security Act, which allows for arrest without charge and indefinite detention without trial. "They were detained for involvement in terrorism and espionage," Wong said. "A few of the cases have not been publicized. This is because publicity can compromise ongoing operations, or seriously harm national interests."

He said the cases were approved by Cabinet and the president. Answering a separate question, Wong said 10 members of Jemaah Islamiyah remained in detention from arrests in December 2001, when the group allegedly plotted to blow up the U.S. Embassy, a U.S. naval facility and other Western targets in the island nation. Three others were released after cooperating in the investigation and being rehabilitated, Wong said.

He said the 10 had taken part in terrorist training and armed jihad. "Several of them continue to hold on to the core JI belief that Muslims and non-Muslims cannot live in harmony. They also believe in the establishment of an Islamic state through violent means," Wong said. "Rehabilitation, including religious counseling, for these detainees is ongoing. Their cases are regularly reviewed." It was not clear if the 10 Jemaah Islamiyah detainees were included among the 39 held under the Internal Security Act.
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2007-04-09 Southeast Asia
Manila (BangkokPost.com from agencies) - Three of Southeast Asia's most wanted terror operatives evaded capture Monday when Philippine troops raided the camp of an al-Qaeda linked group on southern Jolo island. Indonesian nationals Dulmatin and Umar Patek, alleged bombmakers for the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terror group responsible for the deadly 2002 Bali bombings, evaded the early morning firefight, as did Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.
"Curly-toed track shoes, don't fail us now!"
The US government has posted a reward of $10 million for the capture of Dulmatin and $1 million for Patek. But the men, who have been hiding out on Jolo, have managed to evade a massive military operation involving more than 8,000 troops along with US advisers and intelligence officers.

On Monday, a Philippine army unit trained by the US military raided an Abu Sayyaf camp early Monday, local army commander Brigadier General Ruperto Pabustan said. "Three Abu Sayyaf members were captured after a brief firefight," Pabustan said, but added the "high value targets - Dulmatin and Patek - escaped." "Pursuit operations are continuing," he said.

On Sunday, nine soldiers and civilians were killed when Abu Sayyaf militants attacked an army base on Jolo. More than 8,000 Filipino troops are on Jolo on instructions from President Gloria Arroyo to crush the Abu Sayyaf, a small gang of self-styled Islamic militants who experts say once received funding from Al-Qaeda.

The Abu Sayyaf group has been blamed for a series of bomb attacks in the Philippines in recent years, as well as for high-profile kidnappings of foreigners and missionaries. Since the military operation on Jolo began last September the group's top two leaders have been killed and the remaining members, said to number around 400, have splintered into smaller units trying to evade government forces.

Isnilon Hapilon is among the last few senior Abu Sayyaf leaders trying to assert overall command over the group. The US government has offered up to $5 million for his arrest.
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2007-04-07 Southeast Asia
(AKI) - Recent police anti-terror raids in Indonesia have been important but the risk of attacks remains high, according to Ken Conboy, an expert on Islamic terrorism in southeast Asia. "The raids led to the seizing of a high quantity of explosives. But I am not sure those arrested knew exactly what they were doing. I believe they are just labourers," Conboy told Adnkronos International (AKI). Conboy also said he did not believe that terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) had created a cell to kill members of a special anti-terror squad of the Indonesian police, the Detachment 88, as reported by the local media.

According to the reports, the terror cell is called Qoriya, or Ascari. "It is not like the JI," said the analyst, the author of 'The Second Front: Inside Asia's Most Dangerous Terrorist Network', a book on the history of Jemaah Islamiyah. "Moreover, Ascari is not a new group; it is a name that has been around for a while. JI's main targets remain Western interests in Indonesia. The group has in the past attacked policemen but it would not even have the capabilities to track down Detachment 88."

Detachment 88 has carried out a number of raids at the end of March near Yogyakarta, Central Java. The raids have led to the arrest of seven suspects and the death of an alleged militant. Police also confiscated a cache of weapons and explosives. In contradictory statements, the police have said in the past few days both that the explosives were to be employed in a large scale attack similar to the one carried out in Bali in 2002, or in an attack Poso, in the Sulawesi province, a key JI base.
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2007-04-04 Southeast Asia
Police in Indonesia say they have found charts mapping the structure of the extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah. Police say the photocopied charts show the names and departments have changed compared with previous intelligence on the extremist group. They say JI now also has a "military wing" led by Abu Dujana, which is tasked with collecting explosives and arms for attacks. The photocopies were found after raids in Indonesia last month in which one suspected militant was shot dead and seven others arrested. The raids led to a major seizure of bombs and weapons, which police say would have been used in future atrocities. JI has been blamed for the Bali bombings as well as the attacks on the Marriott Hotel and the Australian embassy in Jakarta.
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2007-04-04 Southeast Asia
Seven suspected members of the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah were flown to the Indonesian capital Tuesday for interrogation by national police hoping to crack the shadowy terror network. Investigators said the arrests of the men last week in Central and East Java provinces — together with the discovery of a massive cache of weapons, explosives and detonators — may have helped thwart as many as 20 planned attacks. "We're bringing them to Jakarta so we can interrogate them further," National Police Chief Gen. Sutanto told reporters as the suspects boarded an airplane in the Central Java town of Yogyakarta. "We want to learn everything we can about this network."

The men are believed to be members of Jemaah Islamiyah, which is seeking to create an Islamic state across Southeast Asia. The network has been blamed for a string of deadly bombings in Indonesia — the world's most populous Muslim country — in the last five years. Four of the suspects were captured during a March 20 raid on a busy street near the city of Yogyakarta, authorities said, and those suspects eventually tipped off police to the whereabouts of the other three in East Java. An eighth suspect was fatally shot by police. Among the evidence seized in the two raids were 20 active bombs, 800 kilograms (1,700 pounds) of explosives, nearly 20 detonators, three M-16 automatic rifles, six pistols, and 1,500 bullets, police said.
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2007-03-27 Southeast Asia
The Indonesian police claimed Monday it has arrested several members of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a shadowy terror group with alleged links to al Qaeda, in recent raids in Central and East Java. It remains unclear how many suspects were in custody, but National Police Chief Sutanto said last week seven people were held by the anti-terror unit. Earlier in the day, another suspect was captured at his residence in the East Java capital of Surabaya. "These people are JI members," national police spokesman Sisno Adiwinoto told reporters here. "They have links with JI, but their role was still unclear. All we know is that they posses explosives."

He said some of the detained suspects were involved ithe September 2004 car bombing at the Australian Embassy here and the market bombing in Maluku. A suspected militant was killed and another wounded during an ambush in the southern Java town of Yogyakarta last week, and in a subsequent raid in Central Java, police confiscated a cache of explosive materials, rifles and thousands of ammunitions. JI is widely blamed for major bombings in Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia, the Philippines and southern Thailand.
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2007-03-27 Southeast Asia
Anti-terror police arrested a suspected Islamic militant and seized explosives from his home in central Indonesia on Monday, a top security official said. The capture of Ahmad Khoirul Uman — accused of having ties to the al-Qaeda-linked regional terror network, Jemaah Islamiyah — brought the number of terror suspects detained on Java island in the last week to eight.

Several of those arrested are suspected of having played a role in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. Others have been linked to the 2004 Australian Embassy bombing in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, that left 10 dead. Lt. Col. Hari Dahana, police chief in Indonesia's second largest city, Surabaya, said one of the men detained last week tipped authorities off to the whereabouts of 24-year-old Uman. "Police confiscated 12.5 kilograms (27 pounds) of explosives (including) TNT from his home," he told reporters. "They also seized several bombs that were ... ready to use and explode."

Jemaah Islamiyah, believed to be headed now by Afghan-trained militant Abu Dujana, has carried out four major attacks in Indonesia targeting Western interests since Sept. 11, 2001.
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2007-03-23 Southeast Asia
(AKI) - A new organisation whose role is to facilitate dialogue with radical Islamist groups and Communist leaning groups, is reported to be preparing to start work in Indonesia in April. The National Islamic Front (FNI) will operate in some of the cities where radical Islamists and Communist sympathisers are considered particularly active. Accoording to the political and economic monthly, The Van Zorge Report, the chosen centres include Solo, Yogyakarta, and Bandung, all on the island of Java.

In Yogyakarta and Bandung groups of students have recently raised the issue of the Communist Party which was banned in Indonesia following an attempted coup in 1965. The town of Solo is the seat of the Majelis Mujahaddin Indonesia (MMI) an umbrella organisation of various radical groups who are seeking to turn Indonesia into an Islamic state. The MMI is led by Abu Bakar Bashir, indicated by experts as the ideological leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, the most perilous of the terrorist groups active in South East Asia. According to indiscretions the FNI will comprise mainly academics who have studied at the Sunni university of al-Azhar in Cairo and will be open to non Muslims as well.
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2007-03-22 Southeast Asia
Central Jakarta District Court Wednesday sentenced a Muslim militant to 20 years in prison for masterminding the gruesome murder of three Christian schoolgirls in the Central Sulawesi's town of Poso in 2005. The two men who killed the three girls and beheaded them were sentenced instead to 14 years in prison. Given the fact that all three Islamists could have received the death sentence the court’s decision is very lenient. The Indonesian press noted that the sentences corresponded to the demands of the prosecution.

Hasanuddin, who is linked to the terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah, was found guilty of organising the crime, buying the machetes used in the beheading, and writing the notes left near the bodies threatening additional murders. According to the prosecutor Payaman SH, Hasanuddin had asked his men to get “at least a hundred Christian heads in Poso” as compensation for the Muslims who died in the violent sectarian clashes that had occurred between 1999 and 2001 in Poso itself. Clashes between Muslims and Christians had left more than a thousand dead and driven even more out of their homes. What triggered the violence has not been fully elucidated.

For Judge Udar Siregar, Hasanuddin’s actions have to be categorised as terrorist crimes which might have reignited sectarian violence in the area where a peace deal was worked out in 2001. However, tensions between the two religious communities flared up again in September 2006 when three Catholics were summarily sentenced to death and executed for an attack against an Islamic school in 2000 in which 70 people died.

Hasanuddin was captured by Indonesian security forces last January with his two accomplices, Lilik Purnomo and Irwanto Irano. All three confessed to their role in the crime and were forgiven by the victims’ relatives. The decapitation of the three girls had triggered worldwide condemnation, including by both Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Pope Benedict XVI, who called the deed “a barbaric murder.”
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2007-03-21 Southeast Asia
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Three Islamic militants were found guilty Wednesday of decapitating three Christian schoolgirls in Indonesia and dumping their bloodied heads in nearby villages, judges said. They were sentenced to between 14 and 20 years. The alleged members of the al Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah network left a handwritten note close to the bodies, vowing more killings to avenge the deaths of Muslims in earlier sectarian violence on Sulawesi island.

``Wanted - 100 more heads,'' said Judge Lilik Mulyadi, reciting the letter's text. ``Blood must be paid with blood, lives with lives, heads with heads.''

Hasanuddin, 34, who goes by a single name, was sentenced to 20 years for masterminding the 2005 attack, and co-conspirators Lilik Purnomo, 28, and Irwanto Irano, 29, each got 14 years, he said. Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has been hit by a string of terrorist attacks in recent years targeting local Christians and nightclubs, restaurants and foreign embassies. But the grisly nature of the beheadings, which occurred as the children were cutting through a cocoa plantation on their way to school, gave fresh impetus to the country's war on terrorism and was followed by scores of arrests.

The three militants had faced a maximum penalty of death by firing squad, but judges ruled that they deserved some leniency for cooperating with authorities, confessing and showing remorse.
After all, they were just girls and infidels at that.
Siregar told the Central Jakarta District Court that Hasanuddin ordered the slayings and helped dumped their girls' heads in three Christian-dominated villages. Purnomo and Irano were found guilty of ``ambushing and beheading'' the teens, he said. It was not immediately clear if the three convicts would appeal.

More than 90 percent of Indonesia's 220 million people are Muslims, but Central Sulawesi province - the scene of religious clashes that left at least 1,000 people dead from 1998 to 2002 - has a roughly equal number of Muslims and Christians. A peace agreement ended the worst of the violence, but tensions flared after the 2005 beheadings and again in September 2006, after the execution of three Roman Catholic militants convicted of leading a 2000 attack on an Islamic school that killed up to 70 people.

In January, 15 alleged Islamic militants were killed in a gunbattle in Sulawesi. Several others were arrested, including three others who have confessed to taking part in the beheadings but have yet to be brought to trial.
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2007-03-18 Southeast Asia
An alleged leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah militant group said bombings in Indonesia have hurt Islam's cause there, but he warned of more attacks by small terror groups working independently and influenced by Internet teachings. Abu Rusdan's exclusive interview Friday with The Associated Press
Not the same guy recently interviewed by the New York Times
underscored how the terror campaign has divided the militant movement in the world's most populous Muslim nation, and pointed to a possible opening for authorities trying to further isolate extremists.
Right, sure, yewbetcha.
Rusdan is an Afghan-trained militant believed by police and the United States to be a key leader in Jemaah Islamiyah, the shadowy Southeast Asian network that spawned many of the region's terrorists and is believed to have received funds and direction from al-Qaida. In the interview in his large family house in Kudus, a town on Indonesia's main island of Java, Rusdan declined to condemn the militants responsible for the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings and other attacks, saying only that their actions "were unhelpful counterproductive."

"We cannot call what they did an act of evil, let alone terrorism," he said. "But we must see the objective facts: Those actions did not bring positive results in efforts to spread the faith in Indonesia."

"We need to tell them to think again," he said.

The Bali bombings killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, and thrust the mostly moderate, secular country onto the front lines of the war on terror. Three other suicide attacks on Western targets in the country have since killed more than 40 other people.

Rusdan, 46, said he had no role in terrorist activities, but he danced around questions over his involvement in Jemaah Islamiyah. Police and analysts say he took over as head of the group's "mainstream" faction in 2002 - after the arrest of former leader Abu Bakar Bashir - but likely had no direct knowledge of the bombings carried out. Rusdan was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to 3 1/2 years in jail for hiding one of the militants convicted in the Bali blasts, but he was released in late 2005. Indonesia has not made membership of Jemaah Islamiyah a criminal offense.

Rusdan said more attacks, carried out by independent groups, were likely. "No one can control groups who want to do those kinds of actions," he said. "Many people are not satisfied about the conditions in Indonesia. They can do many things under the influence of teachings on the Internet or books that are circulating widely." Rusdan left for Afghanistan in 1985, but he declined to talk about his activities there. He then lived in Malaysia, where he was close to some of Southeast Asia's most notorious terrorists, including Hambali, who is now in U.S. custody. In 2005, the U.S. government listed Rusdan as a terror leader and ordered banks to block any financial assets he may have there.
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2007-03-14 Southeast Asia
Government security forces arrested a close associate of fugitive Abu Sayyaf bomber Abdul Basit Usman during a raid Monday in Sultan Mastura, Shariff Kabunsuan province, a regional military spokesperson said. Maj. Randolph Cabangbang, Eastern Mindanao Command spokesman, said the suspect, Acmak Saludin, is also long wanted for a series of bomb attacks in Mindanao just like Usman. Saludin was arrested at his hideout in barangay Tambo, Sultan Mastura, around 2:45 a.m. through the help of government intelligence personnel of the Army's 603rd Infantry Brigade. "He did not resist arrest. We are also looking into his involvement in the bomb attack in Makilala town last year," Cabangbang said.

Two improvised explosive devices, two rocket propelled grenades, mobile phones, and an electronic tester were recovered from the suspects' possession. The U.S. government has earlier offered US$ 50,000 dollars or approximately P2.5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Usman. The fugitive bomber is linked to Jemaah Islamiyah and believed responsible for bombings in Makilala town in October 2006 that killed eight civilians and left 30 others wounded. Usman is also implicated in a recent series of bomb attacks in Mindanao.

Over the weekend, authorities also nabbed an Abu Sayyaf leader implicated in the kidnapping and beheading of civilians six years ago in Basilan. Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police director Chief Supt. Joel Goltiao said the suspect, Abu Usman, was arrested by joint military and police troopers at the Port of Isabela, Basilan, through a tip from concerned civilians.
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2007-03-14 Southeast Asia
The public’s timely call for military assistance in South Upi, Maguindanao, prevented a bomb planted at the passenger terminal of the municipality from inflicting harm at dawn on Tuesday. Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, Army’s 6th Infantry division spokesman, said a Teduray native first took notice of a suspicious–looking package placed in a secluded portion of the terminal around 4:00 a.m. and called the attention of his companions. He said the natives, after taking a quick look at the package, immediately informed the terminal management, who, in turn, called for assistance. “It was just fortunate that the bomb was discovered containing an 81-mm projectile with a battery-operated timing device attached to a mobile phone,” Ando said. “Local authorities immediately contacted the Army’s bomb disposal unit whose members defused the bomb,” Ando added.

According to witnesses, they earlier saw two men leaving the package at the terminal and both suddenly disappeared from sight. Ando said they suspect a local terror cell of the Jemaah Islamiyah as the ones behind the bombing attempt.
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2007-03-12 Southeast Asia
THE Court of Appeals (CA) has denied for lack of merit a petition of a captured Indonesian national alleged to be a member of the terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) seeking to overturn a Pasay court decision that sentenced him to 17 years imprisonment for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

The CA 13th Division chaired by Associate Justice Edgardo Cruz declared final and executory the ruling of the late Pasay Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Henrick Gingoyon who ordered the entry of judgment of the case against petitioner Agnus Dwikarna. The appellate court concurred with Gingoyon's Dec. 19, 2002 ruling that Dwikarna has forfeited his right to appeal his case for failure to file a notice of appeal within 15-day reglementary period from the promulgatio