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Shot terrorist 'came from Mindanao to set up Solo cell'

Publication Date : 03-09-2012


One of two terrorists shot dead by police in Solo, Central Java, had slipped into the country from Mindanao in the southern Philippines and was trying to set up a terror cell in Poso, Central Sulawesi, officials said.

Farhan, 19, was shot by police trying to arrest him on Friday night. He had also been smuggling weapons and ammunition. A Beretta pistol found on him had a stamp showing it was Philippine National Police property.

The discovery is alarming as Poso has a history of deadly communal conflict, and the southern Philippines continues to be a hideout for Jemaah Islamiah (JI) members who officials say have been rekindling old terrorist networks in the region.

National Counter-Terrorism Agency chief Ansyaad Mbai told The Straits Times that the Solo group had links with other groups discovered in cities like Medan and Bandung in recent months.

"They have been operating in small cells but, at one level, they are united and in contact," he said. "This is a broad network with tentacles abroad."

Farhan, who studied at the JI boarding school in Ngruki, near Solo, is the stepson of Abu Umar, who was arrested last year.

Abu Umar's group was allegedly planning to attack Singaporeans leaving the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta. He was not charged for the plot for lack of evidence. But he was jailed for 10 years in May for smuggling weapons and running a paramilitary camp.

On Saturday, Ansyaad warned that militants were aiming for symbolic targets, and the Koran Tempo daily cited former militant Ali Fauzi as saying that they could be planning attacks on Members of Parliament.

Farhan's group was behind a string of shootings at policemen and police posts in Solo over the past fortnight, and at least two other members are still at large.

Yesterday, police also discovered a suicide note written in Arabic and Bahasa Indonesia on him, in which he admitted to the recent attacks, saying he wanted revenge for the capture and killing of fellow militants.

"We are battling the government because they have gone against God's law," local media reported it as saying.


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