Fri, 19 Dec 2003

Four students named terror suspects

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Four of the six students recently deported from Pakistan have been declared suspects for their roles in a series of terrorist attacks here in the past several years.

"We have declared Mohammad Syaifudin, Ilham Sofandi, Furqon Abdullah and Rusman Gunawan as suspects as of 8 p.m. today because we have sufficient evidence to link them with terror activities in this country," deputy chief of Police Public Relations Division Brig. Gen. Soenarko said last night.

Two others, David Pintarto and Muhammad Anwar As-Shaddaqi, were released on Tuesday due to lack of evidence linking them with any crimes here. David and Anwar were deported from Pakistan for visa violations. The six arrived from Pakistan on Dec. 11.

Soenarko said new warrants of arrest had been issued to enable police to detain the four longer.

"The warrants have been signed by investigators and sent to their families. They can be accompanied by lawyers during the interrogation as the charges they are faced with have a sentence that exceeds 15 years in jail if found guilty," he said.

Soenarko did not reveal which terror incidents the four students were allegedly involved in.

Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar said on Thursday morning that intelligence reports indicated that the four students had links to Riduan Isamuddin alias Hambali, the alleged leader of Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), a Southeast Asia terrorist network. Rusman Gunawan is the brother of Hambali.

"Many intelligence reports confirm that they have links with (the crimes alleged to be committed by) Hambali. These reports have been processed by police and will be used as evidence against the students," said Da'i.

JI is linked to al-Qaeda and has been blamed for a string of terrorist attacks in the region, including the Bali bombings on Oct. 12, 2002 and the JW Marriott Hotel attack in Jakarta on Aug. 5, 2003.

Hambali is in U.S. custody at an undisclosed location following his capture in Thailand in August.

Da'i said that in order for the reports to be legally admissible, according to law No. 15/1005 on terrorism, the reports should be approved by the local court.

"We have submitted the reports to the local court and we will wait for approval. Meanwhile, we are processing all the evidence available," said Da'i.

Under the Law No. 15/2003, police have the right to detain terror suspects for up to seven days. According to police, they can hold terror suspects without a warrant and question them without a lawyer present.

Da'i also said that the students had been in contact with other suspected terrorists, including Ismail and Tohir. Both are key suspects in the JW Marriott attacks. Other suspects, including Azahari and Noordin Mohamad Top, are still at large.

Gunawan admitted to having sent US$50,000 and telecommunications device to his brother Hambali.