Thu, 02 Oct 2003

'Militant groups recruit new members, plan more attacks'

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

National Police Chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar said on Wednesday that militant groups continued to recruit new members and warned of more terror attacks in the country.

"There are new recruits in these groups. We have yet to find out entirely about their recruitment system, but for sure there are new members of the group," Da'i said on Wednesday.

He cited as examples several new names involved in the recent JW Marriott Hotel bombing which were not mentioned as part of the group responsible for the Oct. 12 Bali bombings last year.

Da'i said names such as Asmar, who carried out the suicide bomb at the Marriott attack, and Tohir, who is still on the run, are indications of the presence of new recruits in the group.

"These are for us indications that they continue to recruit new militants willing to commit acts of terror," the police chief said after attending a ceremony marking the Sept. 30, 1965 coup, which brought then Maj. Gen. Soeharto to power.

Regional terrorist network Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) has been blamed for both last year's Bali bombings, which killed at least 202 people and injured over 300 others, and the Marriott attack last month that killed at least 12 people.

Over 40 people had been arrested for their alleged role in the terrorist attacks, of whom two had been sentenced to death.

Police have also arrested dozens of activists suspected of planning terrorist attacks in the past few weeks.

Citing an unidentified Indonesian intelligence official, Singapore's Sunday Times reported over the weekend that 12 "new generation" JI reactionaries intended to strike hotels in Jakarta, Surabaya and Medan, as well as residential areas with large expatriate communities across the country.

Da'i said there were five fugitives who still were at large and posed threats to the security of the country.

He further warned that these fugitives also had assembled bombs with them that could be used in the coming months.

"We continue to stay on alert because we believe that these men carry bombs with them and their targets have always been big cities," Da'i added.

Alluding to the investigation team sent to Pakistan to question six detained Indonesian students, including Rusman Gunawan, the brother of JI leader Riduan Isamuddin alias Hambali, Da'i said the police would like to extra information on Hambali from his brother.

"We only know that Rusman Gunawan communicates with his brother Hambali and we would like to find out if he knew anything about Hambali's activities since 2000," the police chief said.

The team, consisting of two policemen, a diplomat and one official from the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), left for Karachi, Pakistan on Tuesday to meet with the arrested JI suspects.

"We also would like to ensure that they receive proper treatment during the legal proceedings and can be freed should there be no solid grounds to establish their involvement in terror groups," Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda said on Wednesday.