tants in Indonesia: Darul Islam and the Australian Em- He also dubbed them the “No Action 61 See indomedia/sripo/2007/06/09/0906H02.pdf.
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Update Briefing Asia Briefing N°92 Jakarta/Brussels, 20 May 2009 Indonesia: Radicalisation of the ﬁPalembang GroupﬂI. OVERVIEW Indonesia has earned well-deserved praise for its handling of home-grown extremism, but the problem has not gone away. In April 2009, ten men involved in a jihadi group in Palembang, South Sumatra, were sent to prison on terrorism charges for killing a Christian teacher and planning more ambitious attacks. Their history provides an unusually detailed case study of radicalisation Œ the proc ess by which law-abiding individuals become willing to use violence to achieve their goals. The sobering revelation from Palembang is how easy that transformation can be if the right ingredients are present: a core group of individuals, a charismatic leader, motivation and opportunity. Another ingredient, access to weapons, is important but not essential: the Palembang group carried out its first attack with a hammer and only later moved to making bombs. The group was uncovered by accident. Singaporean authorities and Interpol had mounted an international manhunt for a fugitive Singaporean member of the regional jihadi organisation Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Mohammad Hassan bin Saynudin alias Fajar Taslim. Indonesian counter-terrorism police were separately pursuing the network of the elusive Malaysian terrorist Noordin Mohammed Top. Both searches led to Palem- bang in 2006 and the targets turned out to be linked. The Singaporean had helped turn a local non-violent religious study circle into a militant jihadi group that then made contact with the Noordin network. By 2007, the men were under surveillance; by mid-2008 they were under arrest. The most important element in the group™s radicalisa- tion was charismatic leadership, which two men pro- vided. One was the Singaporean, Fajar Taslim, a large, good-humoured, bushy-bearded man of unlimited self- confidence. He had trained in Afghanistan, reportedly met Osama bin Laden or succeeded in convincing others that he had, and by his own admission, acted as a provocateur, constantly goading his colleagues to prove themselves. At the time he arrived in Palembang, he was being sought by Interpol in connection with a 2001 plot to blow up Singapore™s airport. The second, Sulthon Qolbi alias Ustad Asadollah, had fought in Maluku, an area of intense sectarian fighting in the years immediately following the downfall of President Soeharto, from 1999 to 2005. Engaging, per- suasive and very hardline, he was on Indonesia™s most- wanted list for his involvement in an attack in May 2005 in West Ceram, Maluku, in which five para- military police were killed. Both men separately came upon a small study circle whose biggest concern was the conversion of Mus- lims by Christian evangelicals. Three of the men involved were members of the South Sumatra branch of an Islamic anti-apostasy organisation, Forum Against Conversion Movement (For um Anti Gerakan Pemur- tadan, FAKTA), and FAKTA materials helped set the group™s agenda, but neither these three nor any of the others in the group had ever actively endorsed vio- lence. Fajar and Sulthon provided the ideology and political drive to turn them into an Islamic group (jama™ah ) with a commander ( amir) and a commitment to jihad in the form of military operations ( amaliyah) against Islam™s enemies. The first big leap was getting the members to consider violence against the Christian proselytisers they thus far had only preached against. Once they were willing to kill, a broader range of tar- gets became thinkable, including Western civilians. Access to weapons kept the group going when other- wise motivation might have waned. Without firearms or explosives, carrying out a radical agenda has natural limits. Getting a gun, even just one, gave the Palem- bang group a huge incentive to use it. By contrast, funding was not a particularly important factor in radicalisation, nor was access to the internet. With the exception of the gun and a large donation of potas- sium chlorate for bomb-making, the group scraped together what it needed locally, and it was not much. The biggest expenses were round-trip bus tickets and a house rental at about $20 a month. All communi- cation took place by mobile phone or through face-to- face meetings; there appears to have been almost no use of computers. The Palembang group was not particularly competent nor ideologically driven; most of the men used as operatives needed repeated infusions of jihadi pep talks.
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Indonesia: Radicalisation of the ﬁPalembang Groupﬂ Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°92, 20 May 2009 Page 2 Four of its five attempts at operations failed, and none of the many bombs it made was ever used. But its lack of success should not obscure some important war- ning signs that the investigation revealed. First, fear of ﬁChristianisationﬂ in Indonesia can be a powerful local driver for radicalisation, perhaps not as strong as communal conflict that takes Muslim lives, as in Ambon and Poso, but potent nonetheless. When the Palembang group™s links to FAKTA were first repor- ted, FAKTA™s national leaders indignantly rejected any link to terrorism, and they were right: theirs is a non- violent, if hardline, civil society advocacy organisa- tion. But for some conservative Muslims, apostasy is a worse sin than murder, and the outrage engendered by Christian conversion efforts can be exploited by those with a jihadi agenda. Second, a loose association of current or former JI members, including Noordin Top, the Malaysian respon- sible for the major bombings in Indonesia between 2003 and 2005, apparently continues to look for and train proxies to undertake attacks on the U.S. and its allies. In this case, an Afghan veteran and JI member, Saifuddin Zuhri alias Sabit alias Sugeng, became the liaison to the Palembang group, saying that he was in direct communication with Noordin. It was immate- rial that the group™s members, with one major excep- tion, were not JI and had no past affiliation with jihadi groups. Sabit provided a gun, ammunition, explosive materials, a bomb-making in structor and suggestions on possible targets. His gamble on the Palembang group did not pay off, but bets in the future on other possible proxies could Œ and Sabit is still at large, as are several other fugitives with the potential to lead and recruit. Third, attention to JI-affili ated schools remains critical. The problem is not what they teach; it is that they serve as places of refuge and communication hubs, and the bai™at , or oath of loyalty sworn by JI mem- bers makes it unthinkable to turn anyone away. In this case, a JI boarding school ( pesantren ) became critical to the Palembang group™s radicalisation, simply by being a place where extremists periodically showed up. Finally, assistance to the police should continue. The Palembang group was uncovered by accident, and there were various points along the way where better investigative skills could ha ve detected its existence much earlier Œ long before the Christian teacher was murdered or any bombs prepared. Even with the enor- mous strides made by the counter-terrorism unit of the police, it is still possible for serious extremist activity to take place in Indonesia without anyone knowing. II. ANI SUGANDI AND THE BEGINNING OF THE NETWORK The emergence of the Palembang group is the story of how several different networks came to intersect. 1 One emerged around Ani Sugandi, founder of the JI- affiliated pesantren al-Furqon in Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI), a Javanese transmigrant area of South Sumatra some five hours outside Palembang. This network extended back to Central Java, to Yogyakarta, where Sugandi first joined JI; Kudus and Solo, where his JI superiors lived; and Purbalingga, where his wife is from. Sugandi never joined the Palembang group or endorsed its plans, but he nevertheless played a pivotal, if inadvertent, role in its development. Sugandi has impeccable JI cred entials, with direct per- sonal ties to Abdur Rohim bin Thoyib alias Abu Husna, the JI leader arrested in Malaysia in January 2008. 2 It was on Abu Husna™s recommendation that he went to the Afghan-Pakistan border for training from 1987 to 1992, in the same batch as some of the men who were to become JI™s top commanders. 3 On his return to 1For more on terrorist networks in Indonesia, see among other Crisis Group publications, Asia Report N°147, Indo- nesia: Jemaah Islamiyah™s Publishing Industry , 28 February 2008; Asia Report N°142, ﬁDeradicalisationﬂ and Indone- sian Prisons , 19 November 2007; Asia Briefing N°63, In-donesia: Jemaah Islamiyah™s Current Status , 3 May 2007; Asia Report N°114, Terrorism in Indonesia: Noordin™s Networks , 5 May 2006; Asia Report N°92, Recycling Mili-tants in Indonesia: Darul Islam and the Australian Em- bassy Bombing , 22 February 2005; and Asia Report N°83, Indonesia Backgrounder: Why Salafism and Terrorism Mostly Don™t Mix , 13 September 2004. 2Sugandi was born in 1966 in South Sumatra of Javanese parents. When he finished elementary school, his parents sent him to Yogyakarta, their hometown, to continue his stud- ies. He was still in a Muhammadiyah junior high school in Sleman, Yogyakarta, in 1983, when he joined an activist Muslim student group, Badan Komunikasi Pemuda Mesjid, led by a young preacher close to Abu Bakar Ba™asyir and Abdullah Sungkar, co-founders of al-Mukmin Pesantren in Ngruki, Solo. Ba™asyir and Sungk ar had just been released from prison after being detained for their fiery criticism of the Soeharto government and were hugely popular in the student community. They were also actively organising cells of the clandestine Darul Islam movement. In 1984, Sugandi enrolled his younger brother in Ngruki, entrusting him to the care of Abu Husna, then a young teacher there. Two years later, he was inducted into Darul Islam, and shortly thereafter, he abandon ed his studies at the Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic Institute and signed up for training in Afghanistan. 3Members of his batch included Nuaim alias Zarkasih, head of Mantiqi II from 2001-20 04 and appointed ﬁcaretakerﬂ amir or leader thereafter; he was sentenced to fifteen years
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Indonesia: Radicalisation of the ﬁPalembang Groupﬂ Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°92, 20 May 2009 Page 3 Java, he married a woman from a Darul Islam family in Purbalingga and tried his hand at various odd jobs, but none lasted very long. 4 In 1996, he was formally inducted into JI by Abu Rusdan, the Kudus militant who became JI™s caretaker amir in 2003. A year later, Sugandi went back to South Sumatra, eventually heading the educational program of a village-level Muhammadiyah foundation in OKI. Sugandi says he returned because he could not find work in Java, but he was also almost certainly encouraged to go by the JI hierarchy. This was a period of rapid expansion for the organisation, largely through religious outreach (dakwah) and the establishment of satellite schools. 5 If Sugandi was not directly ordered to return, it at least would have been in line with JI™s policies to have him back in Sumatra, preaching and recruiting. Eventually, he built his own school, al-Furqon. In the course of his dakwah activities, Sugandi be- friended a young junior high school student, Ali Masy- hudi Œ later to become a member of the Palembang group. In 1999, Sugandi took him to Purbalingga to enroll him in Nurul Huda Pesantren, a school with Darul Islam and JI links. 6 Sugandi knew its director, Abdul Aziz, but when he delivered Ali Masyhudi, he encountered another man he also knew: Syaifuddin Zuhri alias Sabit alias Sugeng, a JI member from Cila- cap, then in his mid-thirties, who was two years behind Sugandi in the military academy in Afghanistan. 7 Sabit in prison in 2008. Other members were Nasir Abas, former head of Mantiqi III and now working with the police; and Edi Setiono alias Usman, serving a life sentence for the Atrium Mall bombing of 2001. 4One of these was working in a bread factory Œ interesting because one of the wealthier members of JI from Surabaya had a bread factory that employed dozens of JI members as retailers across Indonesia. It was through that bread factory that JI members first arrived in Palu, where they then set up a branch. 5Since the late 1980s, a few Ngruki students had been sent to South Sumatra to carry out their required practice teaching; by 1997, there would have been a small number of Ngruki alumni in the area to work with. See, fo r example, the list of members in Ngruki class of 1989-1990, two of whom were sent for practice teachi ng to Ogan Kemiring, the dis- trict that included Sugandi™s village. ﬁPanca Jiwa Pondokﬂ [Al-Mukmin yearbook], Ngruki, 1995. 6One indication of a school™s affiliation to JI is whether it advertises in JI magazines. An advertisement for Nurul Huda appears in the April 2009 issue of ar-Risalah , published by a JI company in Solo. 7They met in 1989 according to Sugandi™s testimony. That means Sabit was probably in the eighth batch of Indonesians to go to Afghanistan, in the same class as Fathurrahman al- Ghozi, the JI member who wo rked with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front™s Special Oper ations Group, was arrested was far more radical than Sugandi, but the Afghan bond was a strong one. When Ali Masyhudi was ready to return to South Sumatra in 2004, Sabit and Abdul Aziz accompanied him. III. FAJAR TASLIM ARRIVES IN PALEMBANG That same year, in August 2004, Mohamed Hassan bin Saynudin alias Fajar Tasl im arrived in Palembang. He was to have a deeply radicalising influence on a small group of local activists; without him, the Palem- bang group would not have come into being. Fajar had been inducted as a JI member in 1998 and sent to Afghanistan for five months™ military training in 2000 through the good offices of Hambali. 8 On his return to Singapore, he became a member of the spe- cial operations team of th e late Malaysian bomb spe- cialist, Dr Azhari Husin. 9 When Singaporean authorities began a crackdown on the JI cells in late 2001, Fajar and five others Œ in- cluding Mas Selamat Kastari, who was recaptured in April 2009 after a daring 2008 escape from a Singa- porean prison Œ fled to Medan, North Sumatra, and then embarked on an odyssey across Bali, Lombok and Java, finally arriving in JI headquarters in Solo, Central Java, in February or March 2002. There JI™s acting amir , Abu Rusdan Œ the same man who inducted Ani Sugandi Œ assigned them to different areas, instruct- ing them to live like civilians and blend in with the population. He also dubbed them the ﬁNo Action Groupﬂ, saying they were not to engage in any amali- yah, or military operations, while in Indonesia. 10 in the Philippines, escaped from a Manila prison, and was captured and shot in Mindanao in October 2003. 8Hussein bin Saynudin, his twin brother, received training in Pakistan from Lashkar-e-Tayyaba. Hussein was in Cairo working as a publisher when a crackdown on the Singapore JI structure began in 2001. He decided not to return, but was in periodic contact with his brother until the latter™s arrest. He has been under Internal Security Act detention in Singapore since 2007. 9In that capacity, Fajar helped purchase materials for the Christmas Eve bombings in Indonesia of December 2000. Dr Azhari was killed after the second Bali bombing in a police operation in Batu, Malang, East Java, in November 2005. 10ﬁThe Fajar Taslim Storyﬂ, handwritten autobiographical account in the trial dossier of Fajar Taslim alias Mohammad Hassan, Berkas Perkara No.Pol. BP/05/IX/2008/ Densus, 25 September 2008.
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Indonesia: Radicalisation of the ﬁPalembang Groupﬂ Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°92, 20 May 2009 Page 4 Fajar was assigned to Kudus, Abu Rusdan™s home- town, and moved there with his family in July 2002, where he became the res ponsibility of a senior JI member Taufik Ahmad alias Abu Arinah. 11 JI members there were clearly anxious about him. For one thing, he had a Malaysian accent; for another, he was a big man of Indian descent and not easy to hide. He was forbidden to take part in any public gatherings, even to go to the mosque or attend JI religious study ses- sions.12 It was worse after the first Bali bombs in July 2002; he and his family were moved around by JI members worried more for their own survival than for Fajar™s. At one point, he recounts with some bitter- ness, he and his wife and three small children were locked in a house for three days without food. 13 Fajar™s Singaporean wife demanded to go home. In late December 2002, it was deemed safe for Fajar to return to Kudus. But then, in early February 2003, Mas Selamat Kastari was arrested in Tanjung Pinang, Riau, and all JI™s anxieties returned. Fajar finally allowed his long-suffering wife and children to go home, and took a local widow, Sayuti, as his second wife. The marriage was largely to provide Fajar with local cover, and he moved with her to her parents™ vil- lage in Rembang, Java, about three hours from Kudus. With money wired from his brother in Cairo as a wedding present, he and his new wife opened a kiosk selling basic goods, earning enough to make ends meet. They felt reasonably secure ev en when they got word of police operations in Kudus in April 2003 that led to Abu Rusdan™s arrest. But the villagers grew increasingly hostile towards Fajar and Sa yuti, particularly when they refused to take part in traditional ceremonies on the grounds that they were idolatrous. Around August 2003, the couple was expelled. Forced to leave all their belongings behind, a nearly destitute Fajar and Sayuti moved to the nearby district of Lasem. Fajar must have kept up sporadic contact with his JI minders, because in August 2004, they sent a man to tell him that another Singaporean colleague, one of the group of five who fled with him in 2001, had been arrested. They wanted him to leave Java immediately Œ again, not so much for his safety as theirs. They gave him one-way bus tickets to Palembang for him- 11Taufik Ahmed is the son of the late Darul Islam leader, Ahmed Husein, who helped recruit Abu Bakar Ba™asyir into the DI organisation in 1976, and who worked closely with Abu Rusdan™s father, Haji Faleh. 12ﬁThe Fajar Taslim Storyﬂ, op. cit. 13Ibid. He also recalls that at one stage his eldest son, then five years old, was forcibly taken away to a pesantren , be-cause JI cadres were worried that his tendency to chatter in English would give them away. self and Sayuti, then seven months pregnant. It is not clear why they chose Palembang over other places in Sumatra, since they apparen tly did not make any effort to make introductions to JI members there. It may have been in part because police operations after the 2003 Marriott bombing had already netted members in Medan, Pekanbaru and Bengkulu, and Palembang was the only major Sumatran city left unscathed. The fact that it also had a small Indian community meant that he would be less noticeable than in Java. All JI wanted was to get Fajar off its hands. 14 When they arrived in Palembang, Fajar and Sayuti went to a large mosque and spent the next few nights there. They were befriended by some Indians who took them in, and while Fajar looked for work, he continued going to the mosque to pray. After two weeks, he met a perfume seller and Muslim healer named Abdur- rahman Taib, then 34. Since 2002 Abdurrahman had run a small, informal Muslim study centre in hi s house called Ma™had Baitul Ilmi, teaching basic Quranic precepts and Arabic. He was only a high school graduate, but he had several friends at the Raden Fatah State Islamic Institute (IAIN), and they took turns teaching or lecturing at his centre. In 2003, one of these IAIN lecturers estab- lished a local chapter of FAKTA, the national Jakarta- based group founded to counter Christian efforts to convert Muslims. 15 Abdurrahman and several others involved in Ma™had Baitul Ilmi became members, and in the study sessions at his house, he began to focus his preaching on the dangers of ﬁChristianisationﬂ. After Fajar settled in Palembang, hiring himself out as an English teacher, he joined Abdurrahman™s study group and began leading discussions of a much more political nature, about how Muslims were being slaughtered in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine and the need to wage jihad in response.16 Sometime thereafter Œ Sugandi recalls it as November 2004 but it might have been earlier Œ Sabit, the Afghan veteran from Cilacap, made his first visit to Sugandi™s school.17 He and Abdul Aziz were accompanying Ali 14Ibid. 15The Palembang chapter had no regular communication with the national office of F AKTA in Jakarta, led by Abu Deedat. 16Testimony of Agustiwarman, 11 September 2008, in trial dossier Berkas Perkara No.Pol. BP/05/IX/2008/ Densus, 25 September 2008. 17In the course of his 2009 trial, Fajar revealed that he had known Sabit in Malaysia. (S ee Abdurrahman Taib, ﬁPledoi di Pengadilan Jakarta Selatanﬂ, 31 March 2009.) This may have been when he was first inducted into JI in 1998, when
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Indonesia: Radicalisation of the ﬁPalembang Groupﬂ Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°92, 20 May 2009 Page 5 Masyhudi back, but it may not have been a coincidence that they came just weeks after the Australian embassy bombing of 9 September 2004. 18 They stayed at Sugandi™s school for a week, during which Sabit tried to convince Sugandi to join his group Œ which was apparently closely linked to Noordin Top. 19 Sugandi, whose own lectures focused on the theory of jihad but not on the need for immediate operations, declined. He asked Sabit for help, however, in recruiting more teachers for the school. In late December 2004, just after the tsunami devas- tated Aceh Œ a chronological marker that everyone in Indonesia remembers Œ Sabit found a young unem- ployed man named Sukarso Abdillah, then studying the Quran with an imam in Cilacap. Sabit told him how to get to Sugandi™s sc hool, and Sukarso left to take up his new job, together with two other young men, Helmi Hanafi and Yudho Hastoyo alias Yudo, who also were Sabit™s protégés. 20 In addition to teach- ing, Sukarso worked as a tapper in Sugandi™s small- holder rubber plantation a nd did odd jobs around the pesantren . He also stayed in touch with Sabit Œ every year when he went home to see his family for the holiday at the end of Ramadan, Sabit would get in touch. 21 In early 2005, Sugandi went to Purbalingga to visit his in-laws, and then on to Kudus to see the man he called ﬁmy superiorﬂ in JI, Taufik Ahmad alias Abu Arinah Œ the same man who had been responsible for hiding Fajar Taslim in 2002-2003. Sugandi says he asked Taufik about Sabit, and Taufik replied that Sabit™s thinking was not in line with theirs; he was now ﬁout- side our groupﬂ, that is, outside the JI mainstream. 22 the JI school, Lukmanul Hakiem, in Johor, Malaysia was still flourishing. If Sabit had known Fajar was in Palem- bang, one would think they would have tried to make con- tact, but there is no indication at the time of this visit that Sugandi had met Fajar yet or that Fajar and Sabit were in communication. 18There is no mention in any of the testimonies of the impact of the bombing, nor did police interrogators ask about it, but it must have been discussed in these circles at the time. 19Testimony of Ani Sugandi, 15 September 2008, in trial dossier Berkas Perkara No.Pol. BP/05/IX/2008/ Densus, 25 September 2008. At this point, Noordin was moving be- tween Pekalongan and Semarang, but was actively trying to recruit people through couriers. See Crisis Group Report Terrorism in Indonesia: Noordin™s Networks , op. cit. 20Testimony of Sukarso Abdillah, 8 July 2008, and Ani Sugandi, 15 September 2008, in trial dossier Berkas Per- kara No.Pol. BP/05/IX/2008/ Densus, 25 September 2008. 21Testimony of Sukarso Abdillah, op. cit. 22Testimony of Ani Sugandi, op. cit. Taufik™s response was in line with his close friend Abu Rusdan™s instructions to Fajar Taslim and his friends in early 2002: after the first Bali bombs, JI was not interested in further al-Qaeda-style operations. Noordin Top, however, went his own way, first with the Marriott bombing in August 2003 and the Austra- lian embassy bombing in September 2004, and now Sabit was talking about continuing in the same fashion. One question is how much Taufik knew (or knows) about Sabit™s group and who was involved. Another is how much Taufik told Sugandi about Fajar Taslim. By this time, Fajar had revealed his true identity to Ab- durrahman and another FAKTA member, Agustia- warman, who were shocked Œ until then, they had thought JI was a completely fictitious organisation, created by the U.S. to justify bringing the war on ter- ror to Indonesia. 23 If Sugandi was not told about Fajar by Taufik or Sabit, he would have learned shortly anyway. A few months later, Sugandi went to Palembang to officially register his pesantren with the provincial religious affairs office. Since he had to stay overnight, he called a FAKTA member he knew who suggested that he meet Abdurrahman Taib, who was running FAKTA™s educational activities. Abdurrahman invited him to stay at his house and give a lecture to his study group, which he did. Fajar Taslim was present; so were four men who would later become the operatives of the Palembang group: Agustiwarman was in his mid-30s, married, a univer- sity law graduate, civil servant and employee of the provincial prison administration. He was one of the original members of Ma™had Baitul Ilmi and the FAKTA branch. Heri Purwanto was 23, unmarried, with no steady job. He was a high school graduate who had stud- ied for two semesters at a local private university. At the time of his arrest, he was selling vouchers for mobile phones. Sugiarto, then twenty, was in his sixth semester at the Raden Fatah State Islamic Institute, and only came into contact with the group because he needed a room to rent. He found one in the house of Oloan Martua Harahap, secretary of the FAKTA branch, who ran an internet café out of his home. Sugiarto worked part-time as a computer technician for Oloan; he was later selected for special training in bomb- making. 23ﬁThe Fajar Taslim Storyﬂ, op. cit., and Abdurrahman Taib, ﬁPledoiﬂ, op. cit.
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Indonesia: Radicalisation of the ﬁPalembang Groupﬂ Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°92, 20 May 2009 Page 6 Wahyudi, then 32, with only a junior high school education, seems to have been unmarried with no steady employment. He had worked for three months as a helper in an auto mechanic™s shop, and at the time of his arrest was working as a night watchman at the home of the parents of a FAKTA officer. From this point on, there began to be sporadic commu- nication between the two groups: Abdurrahman would occasionally come to Sugandi™s pesantren , especially after he enrolled his son there; Sugandi would stay with Abdurrahman whenever he had business in the city. By mid-2005, Fajar™s jihadi influence was already beginning to make itself felt on the FAKTA group. A more charismatic figure was about to arrive at al-Furqon who would reinforce that process. IV. SULTHON QOLBI ARRIVES Sometime around August 2005, another fugitive named Sulthon Qolbi arrived at Sugandi™s school with his wife. 24 He was a leader of Mujahidin KOMPAK (Komite Aksi Penanggulangan Akibat Krisis, roughly Action Com- mittee for Crisis Response) from Madura who lived in Ambon from 1999 to 2005, took part in numerous attacks there, then fled after a wave of arrests began in May-June 2005. 25 In Ambon he used the aliases Asadollah and Arsyad. In Palembang, he became known as Ustad Abum. In his defence plea, Sugandi said he never invited Sulthon to his school, but as a Muslim, he had no choice but to take in a fellow human being in need. 26 He said a man named Rusdi alias Azmi, a graduate of al-Husein pesantren , the now defunct JI-linked school 24From the testimony he gave in Ambon, Sulthon was in hiding in Ambon for about two weeks from 18 May. He then left for Surabaya and Ma dura, where he stayed about a month or slightly longer. The earliest he could have arrived in Palembang would thus have been July and it was probably a little later. Fajar in ﬁThe Fajar Taslim Storyﬂ mentions Sulthon™s wife was in the pesantren with him. 25Sulthon was on the police wanted list in connection with an attack on a Brimob post in Loki, West Ceram, in May 2005. According to the interrogation deposition prepared in February 2007 before his tria l in Ambon, he was involved in the February 2005 attack on the ship Lailai 7; the March 2005 car bomb att ack in Batu Merah and the Lateri bom- bing, both in Ambon; and the Lo ki attack (in his deposition he said he gave the orders and held planning meetings at his house; in the testimony of another participant, he also supplied the weapons used). See testimony of Sulthon Qolbi, BAP No.Pol. T/18.a/II/2007/ Ditreskrim, February 2007. 26Ani Sugandi, ﬁRislalah Pembelaan di Pengadilan Negeri Jakarta Selatanﬂ, Jakarta, 31 March 2009. in Indramayu, suddenly showed up at his door with Sulthon Qolbi, saying they had been told about Sugandi by a mutual acquaintance, Zamzam, whom Sugandi does not remember. 27 A week after he arrived, Sulthon told Sugandi that he had been involved in a number of incidents in Ambon and was wanted by police. Sugandi said he could stay as an Arabic instructor, but Sulthon immediately began preaching a more confrontational line than Sugandi himself was comfortable with. He taught that jihad against Jews and Christians was an individual obligation (fardu ‚ain ) because they were occupying Muslim lands, urged jihad against the Indonesian government because it did not apply Islamic law and argued that Muslims should make war on the U.S. and its allies because they were responsible for crimes against the Muslim world. He also regaled his listeners with tales of his exploits in Amb on, including attacks on Christian villages. 28 Much later, after Sulthon was arrested, tried, convicted and sent to prison in Ambon, prison authorities asked to have him moved because he was so successful in recruiting other prisoners. 29 Like Fajar, he was a natural leader, with immense personal charm. After Sulthon had been teaching for several months, Abdurrahman Taib arrived to visit his son, accompa- nied by members of his study circle: Agustiawarman, Heri Purwanto, Sugiarto and Fajar. Fajar recalls the visit as March 2006 but it may have been a little earlier. They wanted to meet Sugandi, but since he was busy with other things, he left them with Sulthon. They were deeply impressed by his passion and reli- gious knowledge, particularly Fajar, who acknowledged frankly that his own lectures were beginning to wear thin, and this man infused new spirit into the group. 30 After that initial meeting, Abdurrahman™s group came regularly to see Sulthon. Relations between Sugandi and Sulthon deteriorated, however, as their ideologi- cal differences became more pronounced. In May 2006, Fajar got a shock when one of his employers at the Cambrichindo English language institute told him that four men had come around, asking if he or a Singaporean named Mohammad 27Sukarso Abdillah, the young t eacher from Cilacap, tells a different story. He said Suga ndi was still trying to increase his teaching staff, and sent word to a friend in Madura named Rusdi that he needed another instructor. Some months later, Rusdi showed up with Sulthon, and left him there to teach. Sukarso Abdillah testimony, op. cit. 28Ibid, and Ani Sugandi testimony, op. cit. 29Crisis Group interview, police official, Ambon, 30 March 2007. 30ﬁThe Fajar Taslim Storyﬂ, op. cit.
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