Sun, 24 Nov 2002

Police have yet to link Bali bombings with JI

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

National Police Chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar said on Saturday that the Oct. 12 Bali bombings were carried out by three groups under the leadership of Hambali, Imam Samudra and Ramli, but stressed that police had yet to link the three with any terrorist networks including Jamaah Islamiyah.

"The Hambali group has connections with Indonesians involved in the Plaza Atrium Senen bombing, Imam Samudra's group involved two Singaporeans while Ramli's group received their funds from GAM (Free Aceh Movement rebels)," Da'i said in Surabaya during a meeting with ulemas, public figures and local administration officials at a breaking of the fast gathering at East Java's Police Headquarters.

Da'i said Imam Samudra's group came to light after the bombings of churches in Batam and Pekanbaru, Riau province, while Ramli's group was believed to be responsible for the bombing at Graha Cijantung mall in East Jakarta.

Da'i admitted that police had yet to reach a final conclusion as to whether Imam Samudra and his alleged accomplices belonged to Jamaah Islamiyah.

"We will attempt more accurately to get information through our interrogations as to the relations between the perpetrators as well as whether or not they have links to other organizations, whatever their names, including JI," Da'i told reporters at National Police Headquarters.

"But, he (Samudra) has admitted that those guys gathered as people with "shared ideas and opinions" which prompted them to conduct these actions (bombings)," Da'i said.

The United Nations has declared Jamaah Islamiyah a terrorist group for its links to al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden's terrorist network believed responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S. last year.

Indonesian authorities have repeatedly denied any cells of the terrorist group exist here.

Many believe that JI was behind the Bali attack, which killed at least 192 people and injured more than 300. Reported confessed terrorist kingpin Al Faruq, reportedly in U.S. custody in Afghanistan, claims that US$74,000 was transferred by a Saudi Arabian donor to a JI operative in Southeast Asia to purchase explosives which could have been used in Bali.

Any link between the Bali bombings and JI is likely to implicate Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, who is now under police detention as a suspect in bombing cases in 2000 and treason in 1999.

Ba'asyir is refusing to cooperate till a list of demands is met. Police asked prosecutors last week for a 40-day extension of Ba'asyir's detention to complete the investigation files.

Two teams from the police laboratory and the Australian Federal Police combed three rented houses where Samodra reportedly stayed in order to obtain the DNA of the people who used the premises.

Da'i said Imam would be interrogated at Cilegon Police Headquarters until police completed their investigations in Banten.

"After we finish our investigation in Banten, we will transfer him," Da'i said, adding that Bali remained the base of operations.

Da'i was talking following a meeting with the Indonesian Association of Cleric and Management of Islamic Boarding Schools.

The Muslim clerics met with police to raise concerns over public rumors that police would launch raids on Islamic schools suspected of harboring suspected terrorists.

"We condemn the attack and call on the police to arrest the perpetrators and masterminds alike," association chairman Hasib Wahab Chasbullah said.

The association also urged police to charge anyone found to have played a role in the attacks, even if leaders of Islamic boarding schools were implicated, Hasib said.

"Any involvement (in the bombings) is their personal responsibility, not linked to Islamic boarding school institutions, even to Islam in general as Islam never teaches violence, but peace," said Hasib.

Hasib said any act of anarchy or violence was against Islamic values.