Monday, September 12, 2005

Filipino, Jakarta Militants In Joint Drive To Raise Funds For New Attacks; Philippines Seen As Source for Indonesian Bombs

Muslim militants in the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines and their Indonesian allies have been trying to solicit money from unidentified Middle Eastern financiers to buy weapons and fund new terror attacks, according to government reports. Details of the fund-raising effort and planned attacks were obtained by Philippine security officials from their Indonesian counterparts, who recently captured two suspected militants with knowledge of Filipino rebel activities, the reports said. Copies of the reports, which summarized intelligence relayed by Indonesian authorities, were seen by The Associated Press on Friday. The captured militants in Indonesia — Abdullah Sunata, allegedly the head of a group called Kompak in Ambon, and Encen Kurnia, who reportedly belongs to Negara Islam Indonesia — were among 15 suspected militants captured by the Indonesian police during an anti-insurgency sweep from June to July, the reports said.
Four of the 15, including Sunata and Kurnia, had received military training in southern Philippine rebel camps. The two later helped organize covert training and escort Indonesian recruits from their country to the southern region of Mindanao, according to the reports. In letters found by Indonesian authorities, Sunata separately discussed with two compatriots hiding in the Philippines — Umar Patek and Pitono or Dulmatin — the fund-raising campaign and planned attacks in the Philippines as well as efforts to obtain explosives in the country for an unspecified attack in Indonesia, the reports said. Dulmatin and Patek, both suspected leaders of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, have been hunted for their alleged role in terrorist attacks in Indonesia, including the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people. They’re believed to be in the company of Abu Sayyaf chief Khaddafy Janjalani, who’s the target of a US-backed military manhunt in the south.
The collaboration indicates continuing operational ties between militants in the Philippines and Indonesia despite years of anti-terrorist crackdowns in the neighboring countries. During interrogation, Sunata allegedly disclosed that “he was tasked by Patek to solicit funds for terror attacks in the Philippines and recruit suicide bombers in Indonesia to be sent to central Mindanao,” one report said. Meanwhile, bomb material used in many militant attacks in Indonesia may have been sourced from the turbulent southern Philippines, a senior Philippine police intelligence official said on Friday. The official, who declined to be named, said intercepted email exchanges between militants indicated that a shipment of high explosives had been sent early this year to Indonesia from the Philippine island of Mindanao. The southern Philippines has faced a separatist Muslim rebellion for the past 40 years. “The militants had successfully purchased materials for bombs to be used in Indonesian targets,” the intelligence official told Reuters, citing a classified security report prepared last April. The report summarised email exchanges between suspected Indonesian militant leader, Dulmatin, who has been hiding on Mindanao since April, 2003, and other suspected militants.