Indonesia: Jemaah Islamiyah suspects on way to Syria when arrested

Jakarta, 16 April (AKI/Jakarta Post) - Two alleged Indonesian members of Jemaah Islamiyah were on their way to Syria to build contacts with an international terrorist network when arrested in Malaysia, according to the Indonesian police.

The police said their Malaysian counterparts detained Agus Purwantoro, 39, and Abdul Rohim, 49, at a Malaysian airport on 31 January during a search for illegal immigrants.

The suspects were holding fake passports under the names of Oktariadi Anis and Deddy Achmadi Machdan, the police said on Tuesday.

"They said themselves that they were heading to Syria to meet with a larger terrorist network, but we are not sure what group they are referring to," National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam told a media conference.

He said Agus and Abdul were extradited to Indonesia on 28 March and taken into custody by police upon arrival at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

Alam said the police were questioning the two suspects over their alleged involvement in regional terror group JI.

Agus is reportedly the leader of JI in Poso, Central Sulawesi, which has in the past been the scene of deadly religious violence. JI is said to have links with al-Qaeda.

Agus, who graduated from Airlangga University's School of Medicine, in Surabaya, East Java, is also believed to have served as a doctor for fugitive terrorist Noordin M. Top.

Noordin is one of the chief JI members in Indonesia and is allegedly responsible for a string of bombings in the country. He has escaped arrest on several occasions.

Agus is also known to have been a student of the late terrorist Azahari bin Husin, who was killed by the police's anti-terror squad during a raid in Malang, East Java, on 9 November 2005.

Alam said the police had been searching for Agus and Abdul over their alleged involvement in the religious violence in Poso between 2000 and 2002 that claimed more than 2,000 lives and displaced 100,000 others.

The conflict ended in a truce that was mediated by a government team led by Jusuf Kalla, currently Indonesia's vice president. However, sporadic bomb attacks and assassinations continue to plague several areas of Central Sulawesi.

Alam said Agus was directly involved in some of the worst violence in Central Sulawesi, including the mutilation of three female high school students, bombings at Tentena and a robbery at a shop selling gold in Poso.

On 28 May 2005, bombs exploded at a market in Tentena, a coastal town near Poso, killing 22 people.

"He was involved in the mutilation of the three female high school students that occurred near Poso on Nov. 29, 2005."

"And in February 2006 he was involved in a gold store robbery in Poso, in which the owner of the store was shot and killed. Around three kilograms of gold were stolen," Alam said.

He said Agus and Abdul are being held at the detention center of the police's elite Mobile Brigade in Kelapa Dua, Depok, about 25 kilometers south of Jakarta.


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