Jakarta Globe – The National Police on Friday said three members of an Islamist group led by hard-line cleric Abu Bakar Bashir would face charges of helping fund an armed group in Aceh that had been planning an attack on the Presidential Palace on Independence Day. The three members of Bashir’s Jamaah Anshoru Tauhid (JAT) were among at least 14 suspects arrested in several locations, including the group’s Jakarta office, on May 6. Late on Thursday night the police were forced to release 11 of them, saying no charges could be filed against them.
“We have named four suspects linked with funding amounting to Rp 1 billion. They are identified as Haris Amir Falah, who bankrolled Rp 400 million, Hariadi Usman, Rp 150 million, doctor Syarif Usman, Rp 200 million, and Maulana, who was providing Rp 200 million,” National Police Chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri said at a news conference in Jakarta. Haris heads JAT’s Jakarta chapter while Hariadi and Usman are members. Maulana was shot dead in Cililitan, East Jakarta, during a police raid on Wednesday. Bambang said the money all came from domestic sources.
Police believe Bashir himself is behind funding for the Aceh group, and when asked by the Jakarta Globe if Bashir remained on the police’s radar, Bambang gave a thumbs up sign and said: “Just wait. We will prove it later.” Bashir, who is believed but has never been proven in court to have been the spiritual leader of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, has said that he was the real focus of last week’s raids.
He founded JAT in Solo in 2008 after resigning from the Indonesian Mujahideen Council, an umbrella group pushing for Shariah law here. The cleric denies that he or JAT had anything to do with the Aceh militants, who first clashed with security forces during a raid on their military training ground in a forested area of Aceh in February.
Police are still tracking a suspect named Mustafa, also known as Abu Tholut, who they believe
acted as a bridge between Bashir and the Aceh group, an antiterrorism police source has told the Globe. With the latest arrests, he claimed, police have uncovered more about Bashir’s involvement.
Bambang revealed on Friday that police believed the terrorist group in Aceh was targeting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, state officials and foreign dignitaries by planning an attack on the Aug. 17 Independence Day celebrations. He said the plans were seized in raids in Aceh’s Jalin Jantho area. The ultimate aim was to create an Islamic Indonesia, he said. “Their target was ‘RI-1’ [the president] and other state dignitaries. They planned to carry out attacks and to assassinate state officials at the State Palace during Independence Day ceremonies.”
Bashir dismissed the claims. “It’s just nonsense. The enemy of the terrorist groups is the United States and its allies. So far, the targets of terrorism have been their symbols. The statements of the police chief on the assassination issue is slanderous,” he said.
Bambang said so far 58 suspects from the Aceh group had been arrested and 13 others killed since an initial raid in the province in February. Police have seized 19 weapons and 21,311 rounds of ammunition. Some weapons and bullets were found to have come from a police armory in East Jakarta. In the latest raid, on Friday, anti-terror police arrested Herry Suranto, an administrative staff member of Al Islam High School in Solo, on charges of involvement in the Aceh group. Local neighborhood head Hudi Martanto said Herry was known to be close to Erwin Suratman, who owns the “Abadi” auto repair shop in Solo raided on Thursday. Herry, his wife, Khotimah, and their four children live with his wife’s parents(jakartaglobe/reuters/IM).