Mon, 14 Jul 2003

Police call for terror alert

Andi Hajramurni and Suherdjoko, Makassar/Semarang

The police warned the people against possible terror acts following the recent discovery of a cell of terrorist network Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) and the arrest of suspected terrorists in Jakarta and Semarang, Central Java.

National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar said that people, especially those living in Jakarta and other cities in Java, should be alert to possible terror attacks because members of the new terrorist cell led by Mustofa moved from one city to another.

"We have received information that the suspected terrorists brought explosives to Jakarta but we are not sure whether the information is true because it is based on their confessions. We have to crosscheck.

"At present, the police are still looking into the information because according to the suspects' confessions, the terrorist cell is continually on the move in several places such as Jakarta, Semarang and other cities in Central Java, an indication that they are bringing explosives with them," Dai said in Makassar, South Sulawesi on Sunday.

Da'i was stopping in Makassar on his way to Maluku.

Da'i said further that according to the information, the group was targeting a number of public places in Jakarta and this was why the people should be on the alert.

The police announced last Friday that they had arrested nine members of the JI group led by Mustofa and seized more than 1,000 detonators and other explosives, rifles and ammunition in their nationwide counterterrorism operation in 11 cities in Java between July 4 and July 11.

JI has been blamed for the Oct. 12 Bali blasts that killed 202 people, mostly foreigners, and wounded more than 320 others. Around 30 members are facing terrorism charges at the district court in Denpasar. Several of the defendants are suspected of involvement in a series of blasts in Jakarta, Pekanbaru, Batam and Medan in 2000 and 2001.

Chief detective at the National Police Headquarters Comr. Gen. Erwin Mappaseng said Mustofa was targeting at least eight public locations in Jakarta.

He declined to name the locations.

Erwin added that the police were still hunting Hambali and several others who were also behind the Bali bombings.

Meanwhile, four suspected JI members detained at the police office in Semarang remained silent about the explosives, ammunition, rifles and documents the police seized from a house they rented in the city.

Central Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Didi Widayadi said that according to confiscated documents, the suspected terrorists were planning to commit a bank robbery and bombings in several churches and other public places in Semarang.

He declined to identify the public places but said that it was of utmost importance that people in the province remained alert to possible terror attacks.

Didi said further that the police would invite several forensic experts from Australia to examine all the explosives and identify them in order to know where they were produced.

He said the police had yet to gain any information from the four suspected JI members -- Luluk, Heru Setiawan, Haryanto (Eko), and Yusuf -- because they still refused to speak.

In a related development, an Arab-born German national suspected of high-level links with the al-Qaeda network will be extradited to Germany in the coming week.

AFP reported on Sunday that Seyam Reda was arrested in Indonesia shortly before the Bali blasts.

An Indonesian court sentenced him in January to 10 months in prison for violating visa regulations by working for Saudi Arabian television companies on a tourist visa.

Police said at the time that Reda might have information on senior al-Qaeda official Omar al-Faruq who was arrested in Indonesia and later handed over to U.S. authorities.