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Southeast Asia
Indonesian group behind Singapore plot has "dozens of members"
[Ynet] Indonesian authorities said on Monday that several suspected bully boyz placed in durance vile
Keep yer hands where we can see 'em, if yez please!
on Batam island last week were part of a group that has "dozens of members" and has been active for two years.

Anti-terror forces arrested six men on Friday on suspicion of planning a rocket attack on neighboring Singapore.

National police front man Boy Rafli Amar said the group mostly recruited members online and was taking instructions from Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian who has joined ISIS in Syria.

Anti-social media: Online chats foil Singapore rocket attack plan

[Rooters] It was social media chatter that gave him away. Changing his profile picture on the LINE messaging app to a banner pledging "Indonesian support and solidarity for ISIS" probably didn't help.

Had it not been for all that, Gigih Rahmat Dewa's plot to launch a rocket attack on the city-state of Singapore from a nearby Indonesian island might never have been uncovered.

Gigih, 31, and five accomplices were arrested on Batam island on Friday after an investigation that showed how much Indonesia's Islamist militants now rely on social media, including with a Syria-based Islamic State jihadi who allegedly directed them to stage attacks.

It also underlined how militants in the world's most populous Muslim nation, once tight-knit under the Jemaah Islamiah group and internally focused, are splintering into smaller gangs loosely linked to Islamic State with increasingly regional ambitions.

"The men in Batam seem to have been radicalized over social media, specifically using Facebook, rather than directly," said police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar.

Southeast Asia
FBI confirms one of its 'most wanted terrorists' dead in Philippines
[Ynet] The US Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Wednesday it has confirmed that Zulkifli bin Hir, one of its "most wanted terrorists," was killed in a raid in the Philippines in January. The US State Department had offered $5 million for the arrest of bin Hir, a Malaysian member of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah holy warrior group behind numerous bombing attacks in the Philippines.

Investigators said they had a difficult time confirming bin Hir's death because he was killed in a gruesome raid that went awry and left 44 police commandos dead.

Southeast Asia
Jemaah Islamiah suspect gunned down by Philippine police
A man with alleged ties to Islamic terrorists militants was gunned down in the Philippines after he threatened to detonate a backpack bomb in a stand-off with local police. The suspect, identified by police as Mohammad Noor Fikrie of Malaysia, was killed in the southern city of Davao late Friday after threatening to blow up an explosive device in a rucksack, said city police chief Ronald de la Rosa.

Around 7 p.m., police received information Kahar and his Philippine wife had checked in at a hotel, bringing an "improvised explosive device to be used for a terror attack in Davao City", according to de la Rosa.

The military and the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Agency were alerted, and the hotel asked the suspects to leave their room. Kahar and his wife were checking out about 10:30 p.m. when they were approached by members of the intelligence agency and de la Rosa in the hotel lobby.

Kahar raised his cellphone, saying he would detonate a bomb if they tried to arrest or shoot him. De la Rosa quoted the suspect as saying, "If you arrest or shoot me I have a bomb. I will explode it.

"Everybody scampered for safety while the suspects went out on the road, embracing each other, with Kahar raising his cellphone as if warning the lawmen of an impending explosion."

Members of a SWAT team, trying to shoot Kahar, were unable to get a clear shot because the area was crowded with pedestrians and motorists. Kahar eventually grabbed his wife's backpack and ran towards a nearby park, but was cornered in front of a hotel, where he was shot.

De la Rosa said Kahar is suspected of being a member of Jemaah Islamiah. The suspect's passport showed he left Malaysia via Sabah on April 27 and arrived in the Philippines' the next day. He stayed in southern Zamboanga and moved to the predominantly Muslim Cotabato, where he stayed before traveling to Davao on Friday.

Authorities are investigating the woman's possible involvement with JI. Police believe she converted to Islam when she married Kahar.

Officials have said a small number of JI terrorists militants have taken refuge with Filipino Muslim terrorists militants operating on Mindanao, where Davao is located.

Kahar's death came one month after authorities gunned down another suspected JI member inside the Mindanao State University in Marawi on November 22.

Southeast Asia
Bashir still giving orders from jail cell
The radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, founder of the group behind the 2002 Bali bombings, is believed to still be giving orders to would-be terrorists from his jail cell.

Bashir was transferred from police headquarters in Jakarta last week to Batu Penitentiary on the island of Nusa Kambangan, dubbed the Alcatraz of Indonesia because of its extremely high level of security.

The prison island, off the southern coast of Central Java, was also where Bali bombers Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Mukhlas were housed until their executions in 2008.

While police did not initially disclose the reasons behind the sudden decision to move Bashir, which came days ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Bali bombings, it has emerged authorities are concerned that he has continued to be actively involved with terrorist groups even from behind bars.

"The leading figure (for terrorism) is still the same," Indonesia's counter-terrorism agency chief Ansyaad Mbai has told AAP.

"Even though he's already in jail, he's still giving commands."

The 74-year-old founded Jemaah Islamiah (JI), the group responsible for the attacks in Bali, and remains the spiritual leader for Jamaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT), which was designated a terror organisation by the United States earlier this year.

Mbai has also warned that the new crop of violent jihadists now active in Indonesia is being driven by the same radical ideology that led to the 2002 bombings.

"It's no longer important what their name is. What's obvious is the new group and JI are linked ideologically," he said.

"Their ideological figures remain the same."

Bashir, who spent 26 months in prison over the Bali bombings before later being acquitted, was jailed again last year for helping set up a terrorist training camp in Aceh.

He was sentenced to 15 years after being found guilty of using JAT as a front to raise funds for the Aceh camp. The terror cell found training at the remote jungle base was believed to be planning attacks on Western targets.

The counter-terrorism chief also confirmed that a group of five men shot dead in Bali in March were part of a new military wing formed by JAT.

"JAT has several wings. The military wing is called Tim Hisbah," Mbai said.

"This group is also linked with the five people shot in Bali."

Terrorism analyst Noor Huda Ismail said more effort was needed to counter the radical ideology still flourishing in Indonesia, warning that failure to address the problem would almost certainly lead to a repeat of the attacks in Bali.

He said extremist elements in Indonesia were still regrouping after a successful campaign by authorities over the past 10 years.

"We arrested 600, we killed some of them," he told AAP.

"But eventually, those people will be released."

"What do we do with them? Can we hope that they will de-radicalise voluntarily? There needs to be a systematic effort."

Down Under
Australian terror cell may still be active
A cell of up to thirty jihadis may remain active in Australia, says the man who indoctrinated them while establishing a local branch of Jemaah Islamiah.

Radical Islamic cleric Abdul Rahman Ayub, who was the deputy leader of JI in Australia to his twin brother Abdul Rahim, has said they were sent by Indonesia's Abu Bakar Bashir, in 1997 to train young radicals in their version of Islam. The brothers stayed until 2002, fleeing around the time of the Bali bombing.

Ayub said the brothers had taught about 100 people. He said, "When I came back from Australia in 2002, to my knowledge there were about 30 people [who were still radicals in Australia]. I don't know about their recent development, whether they're still active or not, but I believe they are still there. Neither I nor ASIO know the exact figures, nor how active they are."

Once one of Australia's most wanted men, Ayub also acknowledged he wanted to make Australia a financial hub for an attempt to overthrow the Indonesian state.

Ayub was trained in Afghanistan between 1986 and 1992. He was an expert in unarmed combat, and worked with Bali bombers Hambali (whose wedding he helped pay for) and Mukhlas (whom he sparred with in kung fu). He said at one time he respected Bashir "more than I respected my parents".

He denied advance knowledge of the Bali attack and insisted he never wanted an attack on Australian soil. He said, "My mission was to preach Islam ... Bashir told us not to commit any violence in Australia - we treated Australia as a country for taking political asylum. But we did teach jihad against Indonesia, against Suharto at the time. We taught about forming an Islamic state, but in Indonesia, not in Australia."

He said Australia was to be "our financial base to financially support our struggle in Indonesia", though that plan had not worked out.

They did recruit British immigrant and Muslim convert Jack Roche to JI - who was arrested and imprisoned in 2002 for conspiring to bomb the Israeli embassy in Canberra. After they recruited him, Roche went to Indonesia where he met terrorist mastermind Hambali.

Ayub said, "Hambali influenced him with this Osama [bin Laden] doctrine and helped him go to al-Qaeda camp. It happened without our knowledge. When Roche returned [to Australia] he acted differently. He didn't obey me, and we suspected something was wrong."

Ayub said September 11, Bali and Roche's plot were mistakes that had changed how Islam was seen in the West and had changed his own faith in violent jihad. Ayub now says, "I was furious. I was very against those attacks because it hurts Muslims themselves. It hurts people in general all over the world. It hurts humanity, and it hurts our principles."

He works in the Jakarta area as a freelance theologian. His brother, who left Australia three days after the Bali bombing, runs two schools. Abdul Rahim did not want to be interviewed but, according to Abdul Rahman, has now also given up his belief in violent jihad.

Down Under
Australian police had Bali bomb evidence fears
Australian police had serious fears Indonesian authorities were about to destroy crucial evidence from the Bali bombings because of Muslim burial traditions, former commissioner Mick Keelty has revealed.

Mr Keelty was commissioner of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) at the time of the terror attacks carried out by Jemaah Islamiah. He was responsible for leading Australia’s response, including helping Indonesian police in their ultimately successful hunt for the perpetrators.

But the former commissioner revealed there were fears that Indonesian authorities would destroy crucial clues because of the Muslim custom of burying the dead within 24 hours. He said, “Muslims bury their dead within 24 hours, but we know that in our own experience in Western traditions if you have a murder in Sydney you could potentially leave the body in situ for 24 hours or more. There was that tension (in Bali) about cleaning up the crime scene very quickly. And some of the Indonesians are very good at that, they get on with things.”

Keelty said there were also fears that the federal police would not be able to give the Australian government and public a quick and proper explanation of what happened if the evidence was not analysed correctly.

Keelty said, “When there’s bombs exploding, you can’t discern one body from another … It’s very hard to identify people. We talked to Indonesia about the Interpol international standard, which was to have fingerprints or other forms of identification – DNA – and of course DNA identification takes a lot of time.

“Back here at home, people just wanted answers. People wanted to know whether their relatives were alive or dead. That was a very frustrating time at home. People wanted answers and wanted them straight away.”

He said the co-operation between Australia and Indonesia in the aftermath of the attack had become the envy of law enforcement agencies around the world, including America’s FBI.

Southeast Asia
The confessions of a Bali bomber
Meet Idris: Bali bomber, a senior member of the terrorist group that planned and then carried out the attack 10 years ago that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

Ask him for an explanation of what he did and Idris comes up with the most lame of all possible answers: he was just following orders.

In his first interview with Australian media, the freed bomber says he would willingly wage jihad on Indonesian soil again, but only if he thought he was fighting in a "legitimate war zone" - including an armed inter-religious conflict on Indonesian soil.

He said, "If some time in the future I form the intention to do jihad, it is obvious that I'll go to war. If there is such a zone in Indonesia, of course I will go there."

It's clear he's mostly concerned about himself. What torments him is the question of whether or not he will go to heaven.

He said, "I have never felt glad, happy or gay about this affair. In my heart I keep hoping that what I did was right and that I will be rewarded. However, I'm always worried that it was wrong and that Allah will punish me."

Idris was 12 kilometers away on a motorcycle with fellow terrorist Ali Imron when he felt, as much as heard, the bomb go off. He recalled, "It's as if it came from underground."

As the subterranean rumble reached him, he did not spare a thought for any of the victims. His thoughts were only for himself. He said, "The feeling of fear dominated. [Ali Imron and I] went to a restaurant. There was rice in front of us. We couldn't finish it, not even a quarter of it. Even water tasted bitter … No one talked. We heard the sirens, ambulance, we felt really afraid."

Idris can only speak now because he is a free man. He escaped conviction for the Bali bombing on a technical legal point when Indonesia's constitutional court ruled he could not be convicted under laws passed after the bombing took place.

He was sentenced to 10 years in jail for a different bombing - the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in 2003 - which killed 12 people. But after remissions and parole he served just five years. He was released in 2009.

Now he lives with his family and looks after his sick mother, but complains he cannot find work because his past means no one will give him a job.

Idris attended Ngruki, Abu Bakar Bashir's school of jihad in Solo, but his learning did not lead to action until 2002. Then two of Indonesia's most important jihadis, Amrozi and Mukhlas, the top leader of Jemaah Islamiah in Asia, called him to a small house in Solo.

It was a meeting to plan a bomb attack on "America and its allies" in Bali - a place they saw as a center of infidel hedonism.

Idris became the manager of the project. He said, "My role … was to provide logistics and to prepare various things, such as providing a house, car, surveying the target, and also preparing food. Basically anything my friends might need."

Idris says Mukhlas, who was executed in 2008, was the one who gave the orders. To Idris, everything he did can be explained by that fact.

He said, "I couldn't think about if [the attack] was justified or not justified. If the senior commander ordered us to do it, we had to."

What about conscience? Humanity? "I didn't think, I simply followed what Mukhlas said."

Idris does not feel bad about being released from jail. He said, "It is the state who created the law … Whether it was fair or not I cannot say."

When I showed Idris pictures taken in 2002 of maimed and burnt bodies, of the destroyed buildings and the remains of the van that contained the bomb. I asked him how he feels and he paused for thought.

He said, "When I saw the pieces of bodies, I just thought something like, 'Wow,' or 'Oh my God', because I know there isn't any Islamic law about this,'' he says. ''It's like: 'Look how much damage I did'."

Southeast Asia
Indonesia police shoot dead 5 terrs in Bali
DENPASAR, Indonesia: Indonesian police shot dead five suspected terrorists militants planning attacks on the resort island of Bali, including an assault on a night club popular with foreign tourists, the national counter-terrorism agency and police said on Monday.
Good going, police!
The five terrorists men, who were shot dead in overnight raids on the island, were linked to the banned Jemaah Islamiah group, which carried out nightclub bombings on Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people, most of them Australian tourists, officials said.

The five terrorists arrived on Bali on March 17 and surveyed La Vida Loca nightclub in the Seminyak beach resort, about 2.5 miles (4 km) northwest of Kuta where the 2002 attack took place.

"Last night we have paralyzed five terrorists criminal perpetrators who were planning to commit terrorist acts ... All the terrorists suspects died during the raids because they defied or shot back with pistols at the police officers," national police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said.

"The terrorists perpetrators have surveyed several places and among them are a gold shop in Jimbaran, a money changer and cafe La Vida Loca," he said.

It was not clear how advanced the preparations for attacks were. Authorities declined to give more details of the threat or say when the attacks were scheduled.
"We will say no more!"
National police spokesman Saud Usman Nasution said some terrorist members of the terrorist group were still at large.

"They have made drawings of these locations as their targets," he told a news conference.

Three people were killed in the beach resort area of Sanur and two in the island's capital, Denpasar, and police said they recovered two rifles, two ammunition magazines, 48 bullets and a balaclava.

In Sanur, witnesses saw pools of blood outside a security guard post and police forensic officers at work behind a police line.

Police earlier said the terrorists suspects planned armed robberies to raise funds and they linked the five terrorists to a group that had conducted bank robberies in the city of Medan on Sumatra island.

"This is an terrorist militant group, a splinter group of Jemaah Islamiah who established a training camp in Aceh," said Nasution, referring to a province on the far north of Sumatra.

Australian media quoted another senior police officer as saying it was possible the terrorist group had been planning to carry out attacks on Thursday, the eve of Nyepi, or the annual Day of Silence marking Bali's Hindu New Year. Balinese hold parades on the eve of Nyepi, which draw large numbers of tourists, the Australian Associated Press said.

The killings follow the beginning of a trial last month of an Islamist militant accused of making the bombs used in the 2002 Bali nightclubs attack.

Umar Patek, who was captured in the same Pakistan town where U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden, is also accused of mixing chemicals for 13 bombs that detonated in five churches in Jakarta on Christmas Eve, 2000, killing about 15 people. Security officials say he belonged to Jemaah Islamiah.

Southeast Asia
Indonesian terrorist gets eight years
An Indonesian terrorist militant yesterday was sentenced to eight years in prison for helping to set up a terrorist cell which plotted attacks on Western hotels and embassies in Jakarta. The sentence was less than the prosecution's demand for a 12-year term.

Abu Tholut is among more than 120 alleged members of "Tanzim Al Qaeda in Aceh" captured or killed since the authorities found their paramilitary training camp in Aceh province early last year.

Judge Musa Arif Aini told the court that the 50-year-old firearms expert helped set up the camp and obtain M-16 assault rifles and other weapons for the group. He said, "It has been proven legally and he is convincingly guilty of committing criminal and terrorist acts."

Tholut, also known as Mustofa, was arrested last December. Police said he went to Afghanistan in the late 1980's before returning to Asia to train with Jemaah Islamiah (JI).

Tholut became one of Indonesia's most-wanted fugitives after Noordin Top and Dulmatin - master bomb makers for JI - were killed in police raids last year. He was convicted for involvement in a 2001 bomb blast at a shopping plaza in central Jakarta that wounded six. He served five years of an eight-year sentence and was released for good behavior. But like so many other convicted extremists in Indonesia, he went back to his terrorist network after his release.

Southeast Asia
Mas Selamat recapture on TV show
[Straits Times] NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN footage of terrorist detainee Mas Selamat Kastari, 50, being recaptured two years ago in Kampung Tawakal in Skudai, Johor, will be shown on television this month.

Mas Selamat: The Fugitive Terrorist chronicles the manhunt for the Singapore head of the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) regional terrorist group after his 2008 escape from detention in Singapore.

The documentary will air on Crime & Investigation Network (StarHub Channel 403) on June 30.

The exclusive footage was obtained by director Ahmad Yazid, 27, and executive producer Lydia Lubon, 32, who produced the show under their Malaysian-based production company Rack Focus Films.

They pitched the idea to cable TV channel provider AETN All Asia Networks and started the project in March last year.

'The angle was about the pay-off of tracking down and finally arresting Asia's most-wanted runaway,' said Ms Lubon over the telephone from Kuala Lumpur.

Southeast Asia
Philippine army arrests bomb suspect with JI links
[Straits Times] A SUSPECTED bad boy believed to be a liaison between Mohammedan rebels and a Southeast Asian terrorist network was tossed in the calaboose in the restive southern Philippines, officials said on Wednesday.

Security forces apprehended Abi Pamanay in the central part of Mindanao Island on Tuesday based on an arrest warrant for murder in connection with bombing attacks, said Philippine army chief Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz.

Mr Ortiz accused Pamanay of being a member of the largest Mohammedan separatist group and a 'senior associate' of notorious bomb-maker Abdul Basit Usman, who has been on the run for his alleged links with the Indonesian-based terrorist network Jemaah Islamiah (JI) and 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...
group, both blamed for a series of deadly attacks across the region.

Pamanay was being interrogated after his arrest in Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat province, Mr Ortiz said. Other officials were quoted as saying he did not resist arrest and had denied the charges against him.

Usman is a Filipino on the US State Department's list of most-wanted faceless myrmidons who carries a US$1 million (S$1.2 million) bounty.

Pak military intelligence officers last year claimed that Usman was killed with other forces of Evil in a US drone strike in Pak tribal regions, but a Philippine military official later denied it, saying that Usman had been sighted near southern Maguindanao province.

Southeast Asia
Blast kills 5 people in southern Philippines
[Straits Times] A POWERFUL blast killed at least five people and maimed three near a school on a southern island in the Philippines on Thursday, a marine general said.

No has grabbed credit for the attack but a small band of Islamist gunnies with close ties to al Qaeda and regional network Jemaah Islamiah (JI) operates on the island, Brigadier General Romeo Tanalgo, marine commander, said.

Since 2004, a small group of US soldiers is based on the island in the south of the mainly Roman Catholic state, helping train local soldiers fight Islamist turbans.

US-trained army commandos launched attacks on another band of Abu Sayyaf gunnies in nearby Sacol island on Thursday, tracking down a rebel leader wanted in the United States.

The Abu Sayyaf, with an estimated strength of about 300 fighters, has been blamed for bombings, kidnappings, and beheadings in the troubled south.

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