Sun, 07 Sep 2003

Police wait for order to freeze JI accounts

Muninggar Sri Saraswati and Syaiful Amin, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta/Yogyakarta

The National Police is waiting for an order from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to freeze the financial assets of Indonesian nationals included on the list of 10 alleged members of the al- Qaeda-linked Jamaah Islamiyah terror group.

"Officially, we have yet to receive the order from the foreign ministry. But, we can confirm that some of the people on the list are Indonesian nationals," a top officer at National Police Headquarters told The Jakarta Post on Saturday, on condition of anonymity.

He said as soon as the foreign ministry's notification arrived, the police would issue a request to Bank Indonesia to freeze the JI members' financial assets.

"Their names were mentioned by Hambali," the source said, referring to the alleged top leader of JI, who is currently under U.S. custody at an undisclosed location.

The police are still waiting for the U.S.' permission to question Hambali, born Encep Nurjaman, in the West Java rice belt of Cianjur.

The Indonesian foreign minister has been in Dili from Friday to Saturday for high-level talks with East Timor leaders to strengthen cooperation between the two countries.

U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow announced on Thursday that Washington would submit the list of alleged JI members to the UN early on Friday as part of a regional effort against terror.

After 72 hours, provided that there were no objections, all UN member countries will have to freeze the assets.

On the list are: Imam Samudra, Fathur Rochman Al-Ghozi, Agus Dwikarna, Parlindungan Siregar, Aris Munandar, Yasin Syawal, Mukhlis Yunos, Julkipli Salim Y. Salamuddin, Abdul Hakim Murad and Huda bin Abdul Haq, alias Mukhlas.

JI is blamed for a series of bomb attacks in Indonesia since 2000, including the Bali blasts last October and the JW Marriott bombing in Jakarta last month.

Both Imam and Mukhlas are currently standing trial for their alleged role in the Bali bombings. Fathur, also an Indonesian, escaped the Philippines prison where he was to have served a 17- year sentence for terrorist attacks, while Agus is an Indonesian currently serving his 15-year sentence in the Philippines over the illegal possession of explosives.

The National Police source said Siregar was an Indonesian engineer named a suspect by Spanish police in connection with al- Qaeda activities in that European country.

He also said Aris was also a member of the Indonesian Mujahidin Council (MMI) led by cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, who was sentenced on Tuesday to four years in jail for immigration violations and involvement in treason.

The source also said Yasin was the son-in-law of JI founder Abdullah Sungkar and was "most likely" an Indonesian and a member of MMI.

But MMI executive chairman Irfan S. Awwas, while admitting that Aris was part of the organization, said Yasin was not.

Irfan said Aris chaired the internal affairs department of the organization and had been involved in humanitarian missions to Poso, Central Sulawesi, and Ambon, Maluku, when religious conflicts tore the towns apart between 1999 and 2001, killing around 8,000 people.

"I wonder why Aris Munandar is put on the (U.S.') list. He should have been awarded for his work instead.

"I know he has nothing to do with JI and I think this is part of the U.S.' plan to corner Muslims here after they failed to get ustadz (teacher) Abu Bakar (Ba'asyir) convicted of acts of terror," he told the Post.

Irfan said he last met Aris during the MMI congress in August in Surakarta, Central Java, when Ba'asyir was reelected as the head of the organization.

The National Police source said that Aris, Yasin and Siregar had not been named suspects in any terror cases in the past few years, because of a lack of hard evidence.

He said the police had obtained the results of Hambali's interrogation by the U.S., but needed to cross-check the information when Indonesian police were given access to the terrorist suspect.

"According to the U.S. investigation, Hambali admitted to his involvement in a series of bombings in Southeast Asia and his link to al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden," the source said.

The report said Hambali also told U.S. investigators that JI obtained its explosives from Afghanistan, which were later transported to Indonesia through Malaysia and the Philippines.

The police source said Hambali also admitted to having recruited some 1,000 people across the region and establishing JI bases in several Indonesian provinces, including Maluku, Central Sulawesi, West Nusa Tenggara and Lampung, North Sumatra.

West Nusa Tenggara Governor Lalu Serinata strongly refuted Hambali' statement.

"I've never heard of such an organization existing here. His statement needs proof," he was quoted by Antara as saying on Saturday.