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Indonesia: Asian militants sought al-Qaida funds
Indonesia Terror Pl 5467160
In this Thursday, July 3, 2008 file photo, one of ten terror suspects arrested after a series of raids on Sumatra island, right, is led into a police detention facility by a member of Indonesia's elite anti-terror squad. Indonesian terror suspects executed a Christian teacher in front of his family and were planning to assassinate an American language teacher before their arrest this month, a top anti-terrorism official and the suspects' lawyer said Monday, July 28, 2008. - photo by Associated Press
    JAKARTA, Indonesia — Two alleged Indonesian terror leaders were headed to Iraq to seek help from al-Qaida, according to a seized laptop that indicates regional militants are cash-strapped but determined to rebuild international links, security officials say.
    Abu Husna and Agus Purwantoro are reputed to be key leaders in Jemaah Islamiyah, a militant network that once accepted al-Qaida funds to carry out strikes and failed plots in Southeast Asia, including the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people, most of them foreigners.
    The men were detained in Malaysia in March and are awaiting trial here.
    Severely weakened by hundreds of arrests, Jemaah Islamiyah has not carried out a major attack in three years and most experts assumed it lacked the coordination to seek foreign assistance.
    But a senior security official said the two men were heading to Iraq via Syria, once a main route for militants who sneak into Iraq to join the insurgency. Recently, however, border controls have been tightened on both sides.
    He said they carried a laptop that had a detailed funding proposal in both Indonesian and Arabic to be presented to al-Qaida.
    ‘‘Jemaah Islamiyah from central Java decided to send them to Iraq with a proposal,’’ the official told The Associated Press. ‘‘They (JI) need money to pay for explosives and operating expenses. Their budget is very limited.’’ He refused to specify which al-Qaida group or members the men planned to meet in Iraq.
    The official spoke on condition of anonymity, saying revealing his name or agency risked compromising surveillance of terrorist targets.
    The account of the men’s journey and their goal in Iraq was repeated by a second senior official at a briefing on Indonesia’s anti-terror fight given by authorities and attended by an AP reporter.
    But their choice of seeking cash from al-Qaida in Iraq was a questionable one.
    Since early 2007, al-Qaida in Iraq has been gradually uprooted from its former strongholds and denied its main sources of revenue through smuggling, extortion and control of local black markets. It’s unclear how many resources al-Qaida stashed away before losing its pipelines to cash.
    An Iraqi-led offensive began Tuesday in the last insurgent footholds near Baghdad.
    In an interview this month with The Associated Press, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, said the military pressure may have forced the al-Qaida leadership to shift resources to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
    Police and foreign governments have said Jemaah Islamiyah used al-Qaida money to fund the Bali blasts and two other deadly bombings on Western targets in Indonesia in 2003 and 2004.
    Most experts say those financial links have been severed and that the last attack, in which militants wearing suicide vests walked into three Bali restaurants in 2005, was financed locally.
    Sidney Jones, an expert on Southeast Asian militant movements, said Iraq was an ‘‘odd’’ destination given that around 200 Indonesian extremists are known to have fought or trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the 1990s and early 2000s.
    ‘‘If they wanted direct contacts with al-Qaida, why not go to Pakistan, where Indonesian JI members have a well established network?’’ said Jones, who is with the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. ‘‘But whatever the motivation, the trip certainly shows that JI remains plugged into the international mujahadeen network.’’
    The AP earlier reported Husna and Purwantoro told interrogators their journey was arranged by an Algerian called ‘‘Jaffar’’ based in Jakarta, who gave them air tickets, militant contacts in Syria and fake passports.
    The security official said investigations showed the passports were stolen from two Indonesian travelers at London’s Heathrow Airport in 2003, while the tickets to Syria were bought in Thailand.
    ‘‘This shows wide international connections,’’ the official said.
    Husna, 48, and Purwantoro, a 38-year-old doctor, are scheduled to soon face trial on charges related to their alleged involvement in the killings of Christians in Indonesia between 2003 and 2005, according to their lawyer, Asludin Hatjani.
    He declined to discuss their alleged mission to ask for funds from al-Qaida and it was not clear if they would face charges related to that. Police have said both were senior figures within JI, but that is not a crime in Indonesia.

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