Thu, 11 Dec 2003

Pakistan hands over six Indonesian terror suspects

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

National Police are to question six Indonesian students over their alleged involvement in terrorism activities, after they were deported by Pakistani authorities on Wednesday.

"It is a normal procedure for police to continue the interrogation after a joint team from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Intelligence Agency (BIN) and National Police carried out a cross-examination of them," National Police deputy spokesman Brig. Gen. Soenarko said on Wednesday.

Mohammad Syaifudin, Ilham Sofyandi, David Pintarto, Furqon Abdullah, Muhammad Anwar As-Shadaqqi and Rusman Gunawan, alias Gun Gun, are expected to arrive in Jakarta on Thursday.

Soenarko said police would place the students in their custody for 24 hours for questioning.

He said police were taking the case seriously, saying a detailed interrogation would be required before they could determine the legal status of the students.

"This interrogation is aimed at seeking more details than what we obtained during the questioning in Pakistan. After that, we can determine whether to issue a detention letter for a longer detention or not."

However, he acknowledged the interrogation, at the very least, would clarify their relationship to several terrorist cells that police had been investigating.

Pakistan turned over the students to Indonesian officials on Wednesday in the southern port city of Karachi where they were arrested three months ago, an official said, as quoted by AFP.

The hand-over came a week before the visit of Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri to Pakistan on Dec. 17.

Pakistani foreign office spokesman Masood Khan confirmed the handover and said the Indonesian delegation, which arrived here Sunday, had come with a formal request to take custody of the six detainees.

They were arrested by Pakistani authorities in early September for alleged involvement in terrorist activities.

Gun Gun, the younger brother of suspected terrorist mastermind Riduan Isamuddin, alias Hambali, has admitted to sending US$50,000 and telecommunications equipment to his brother. Hambali is believed to be the leader of the Southeast Asian regional terrorist network Jamaah Islamiyah (JI).

JI 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 has been in U.S. custody at an undisclosed location since October following his capture in Thailand in August.

National Police Chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar said earlier that the six students had no criminal records.

Soenarko also said the interrogation in Pakistan was led by the foreign ministry so the National Police had no authority to disclose the results of the interrogation.

"Even though we participated in the team to question the students, we just accompanied the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and BIN officials to Pakistan," said Soenarko.