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AP: Indonesian Muslim cleric lauds bin Laden
By Reuters

25/1/2002 11:14 am Fri

[Berita ini, antara lain, menunjukkan operasi 'memerangi keganasan' ini sedang cuba membunuh pusat pendidikkan Islam dan mengaibkan para alim-ulamak. Padahal ia ujud sebelum ujudnya Osama Bin Laden itu sendiri.... Sila juga membaca rencana ISA is the refuge of the incompetent oleh Dr Johan Saravanamuttu, Aliran. - Editor]


http://breakingnews.scmp.com/Reuters/Front/ fulltext.asp?ArticleID=Asia-85790

Thursday, January 24, 2002 9:34 pm (GMT+8)

Indonesian Muslim cleric lauds bin Laden

Indonesian police on Thursday questioned a suspected leader of a Southeast Asian group with links to Osama bin Laden, as U.S. troops packing assault rifles arrived in the Philippines for an anti-terror training exercise.

Indonesian Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir described bin Laden as a "true Islamic warrior" and praised his al Qaeda network, but said he did not belong to the group blamed for the September 11 attacks that killed more than 3,000 in the United States.

"I am not a member of al Qaeda, however I highly praise the fight of Osama bin Laden who has dared to represent the Islamic world to fight the United States...and its allies," Bashir said in a statement handed to reporters after he was questioned.

"(They) have not been proven guilty by the international court, (but) they have been slaughtered by the pro-West media."

Clad in white robes and flanked by several bodyguards and his lawyer, Bashir appeared only briefly before scores of journalists waiting at the national police headquarters in Jakarta.

Singapore and Malaysia say he has strong ties to, and in some cases provided direction for, individuals and groups planning attacks on U.S. facilities.

SINGAPORE'S DIRECT LINK

Singapore said on Thursday matching video tapes show a direct link between militants arrested in the city state and al Qaeda,

The tapes, one found earlier in Afghanistan the other newly discovered in Singapore, shows footage of a Singapore subway station with commentary suggesting intentions to plant a bomb in the vicinity, Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng said.

The tapes show "a very direct link between the Jemaah Islamiah group detained here and al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan," Wong said in a statement.

Singapore has detained 13 suspected members of Jemaah Islamiah, a clandestine organisation it says has ties to groups in Malaysia and Indonesia as well as to al Qaeda.

Bashir has been named as a possible leader of Jemaah.

Malaysia, which over the past six weeks has rounded up 23 men with alleged contacts with the Singapore group, will continue the crackdown because there were 200 suspects still at large, the national police chief said on Thursday.

JOINT EXERCISES

As pressure mounted on Indonesia to investigate Jemaah and other groups with suspected al Qaeda links, the United States flew in fresh troops and equipment to the southern Philippines on Thursday for a military exercise seen as the biggest expansion of Washington's war on terrorism outside Afghanistan.

A U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane landed in the southern city of Zamboanga with the troops, dressed in military fatigues and carrying M-16 rifles, and vehicles for use in joint exercises that begin next week.

Hundreds of soldiers are expected to participate in the exercise which has some in the Philippines have said is a cover for U.S. troops to join in the battle against Islamic extremists.

The troops arrived only hours after Philippine soldiers clashed nearby with Muslim rebels linked to bin Laden.

A southern regional commander said at least eight Abu Sayyaf rebels linked to the al Qaeda network were killed in a gunbattle with Philippine troops on Wednesday on the nearby island of Basilan, 900 km (560 miles) south of Manila.

MALAYSIA'S CRACKDOWN

Malaysia's Inspector General of Police Norian Mai said the hunt must be continued for another 200 suspects with links to Jemaah Islamiah.

"We have information that some of the suspects arrested in Johor have links with the members of the Jemaah Islamiah who were arrested by Singapore authorities," Norian told reporters.

Some analysts say a similar crackdown by Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, could backfire.

"There's a substantial part of the Indonesian population that is fairly sympathetic to Islamic aspirations," said noted Indonesian expert Harold Crouch.

"So you have to distinguish very clearly between taking action against people who are actually creating violence and people who are just radical Muslims who want to implement (Islamic) Sharia law and that sort of thing," he said.

Indonesia's Chief Security Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters on Wednesday authorities were doing all they could to investigate any domestic links with al Qaeda -- and all would be revealed in the next few days.





http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/ A29984-2002Jan24?language=printer

Cleric Denies Al-Qaida Link

The Associated Press Thursday, January 24, 2002; 7:08 AM

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- A Muslim cleric being questioned by police denied any links with international terrorism but praised Osama bin Laden as a "true Muslim fighter."

"I am not a member of al-Qaida, but I really respect the struggle of Osama bin Laden, who has bravely represented the world's Muslims in their fight against the arrogant United States of America and their allies," Abu Bakar Ba'asyir said in a statement.

Malaysian security services believe Ba'asyir, who lived in Malaysia from 1985 to 1998, is the ringleader of an extremist Muslim group.

Indonesia has been under increasing international pressure to rein in radical Islamic groups since the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States that were blamed on bin Laden. U.S. government officials have speculated that al-Qaida members may be hiding in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Police said they were questioning him over allegations he was involved with the Mujahadin group in Malaysia.

Ba'asyir, 63, has denied breaking any laws in Indonesia or Malaysia.

He heads the Indonesian Mujahadin Council, a recently formed group that is campaigning for the imposition of Islamic law in Indonesia. He also runs an Islamic boarding school on Java island.

Ba'asyir accused the United States of violating human rights and killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan.

"Osama bin Laden, who in our view is a true Muslim fighter, and al-Qaida have not yet been found guilty in an international court yet they have been massacred by the pro-western imperialist media," he said.

2002 The Associated Press




http://www.malaysiapress.com/?action=display&article=11561148 &template=malay/index.txt&index=recent

Thu, 24 January 2002

Hijackers, Asian Militants Talked

The Associated Press, Wed 23 Jan 2002

KAJANG, Malaysia (AP) - In a three-bedroom condo overlooking an 18-hole golf course, two future Sept. 11 hijackers encouraged Islamic militants operating in Southeast Asia to kill Americans and join Osama bin Laden's holy war, officials have learned.

Details of Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi's activities during a trip to the Malaysian town of Kajang in January 2000 have emerged since authorities here and in Singapore began a crackdown last month on suspected militants linked to bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

Among the first to be arrested was Yazid Sufaat, a 37-year-old former Malaysian army captain whom authorities say hosted the two Saudis and other al-Qaida suspects at his weekend getaway about one hour's drive south of the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

At Hazel Evergreen, a resort-style condominium complex in a discreet suburb of Kajang, al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi met with an unidentified al-Qaida operative who later became a suspect in the deadly USS Cole bombing that was carried out 10 months later, in October 2000, in Yemen.

According to Malaysian officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the Sept. 11 attacks were not discussed at the meetings, which were observed by intelligence officials, and there was no indication that they were being planned.

But during informal chats in the condo, the future hijackers told their Muslim hosts that Southeast Asian militants were obliged to ``kill Americans and destroy American interests and those who support America,'' an official close to the investigation said.

Also present at the meetings was Hambali Nurjaman, an Indonesia Islamic teacher who authorities say is a key link between militant groups in Southeast Asia and al-Qaida. Officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was Hambali who asked Yazid to put up al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi and arranged for them to be shown around town by local supporters.

Both al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi were aboard American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon after takeoff from Washington's Dulles airport. But 21 months earlier, in Malaysia, authorities said there was ``nothing to indicate at this point that the two (hijackers) even knew about Sept. 11,'' a police source told The Associated Press. ``Even if they did, it was not revealed to Yazid or Hambali.'' Authorities said the intelligence information gathered then was shared with U.S. officials.

Al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi, who entered Malaysia as tourists, left unchallenged. Malaysian authorities have refused to reveal when exactly they entered and exited Malaysia but U.S. prosecutors have said al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi arrived in Los Angeles after leaving Thailand on Jan. 15.

Months after they departed, Yazid hosted Zacarias Moussaoui in September and October 2000, when he set up an Internet account and received employment documents, Malaysian officials said.

Moussaoui, a Frenchman of Moroccan descent, has been charged in the United States with six conspiracy counts of being an accomplice to the Sept. 11 attacks and could receive the death penalty if convicted.

Yazid's wife, Sejahratul Dursina, denies he knew the al-Qaida men but says he was close to Hambali. Yazid was arrested Dec. 9 as he returned to Malaysia from Afghanistan. In the following six weeks, 21 other suspects were arrested in Malaysia. Hambali is missing.

Neighboring Singapore arrested 15 others whom authorities say planned to bomb the U.S. Embassy, other Western-allied diplomatic offices and American interests there.

Singapore alleges that Hambali brought eight of the Singaporean suspects to Malaysia for training and arranged their attendance at al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan.

Hambali also sent 16 of the Malaysian group, including Yazid, to a training camp near Kandahar, Afghanistan, officials said. Others went to a camp in the southern Philippines. Malaysian officials believe the ultimate aim of the Southeast Asian militants was the creation of a rigid Islamic state comprising Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the southern Philippines.

According to a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, al-Qaida operatives were also planning to attack the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia.