Indonesia: Sumatran city of Medan 'turning into terror financing centre'
last update: June 25, 17:54
Jakarta, 25 June (AKI/Jakarta Post) - Indonesian officials said Medan, in North Sumatra, is turning into a centre for terrorism financing, following the arrest of five suspects with assets worth nearly Rp 8 billion (US$848,000), allegedly used to fund paramilitary training and terrorism operations.
On Thursday morning, a suspect who was already in custody led police and armed anti-terrorism personnel to seize four houses, one shop, three cars and seven motorcycles in three locations that were purchased using funds the arrested suspects got from hacking a multi-level marketing website.
The group, which had information-technology experts as members, was part of a terrorist cell in Medan.
The members bought the account numbers of bank clients in and outside the country. Some terrorist suspects posed as multi-level marketing members and sought more customers.
The country's National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) chief, Ansyaad Mbai, told reporters: “The hackers transferred the credit points to their accounts, and then sold them to brokers, who transferred the money equivalent to their bank accounts.”
Rizki Gunarwan, the suspect who led police to the raids, has a background in accountancy and IT. He hacked into the website for Investasi Online, said National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli.
Rizki was one of five terrorism suspects caught last month for a church bombing in Solo on Sept. 25 last year in which the suicide bomber died and nearly 30 people were injured.
“Preliminary investigations showed that the group's activities were in supporting terrorist operations, including paramilitary training in Poso [Central Sulawesi],” said Boy Rafli.
He said Rizki had trained there, and channeled Rp 667 million to the training. He added that the suspect is skilledin making bombs and firearms.
The raids occurred on the same day that one of the last and most prominent Bali bombers, Umar Patek, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the 2002 blasts.
Since the last major attack in 2009 against two luxury hotels here, several terrorists have been arrested, and Indonesia's counter-terrorism efforts have earned global praise.
However, the BNPT chief warned that Medan seemed to be the terrorists' financial hub, even as their operations spread across the country.
In March this year, police shot dead five suspected terrorists in Bali who were involved in a spate of armed robberies to fund their operations.
They were part of the group that masterminded a bank heist in Medan in 2010. The money funded an Aceh paramilitary camp, which Jemaah Islamiah (JI) spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir was convicted of helping to finance.
In 2010 alone, terrorism analysts noted, there were three bank heists in Medan, all suspected of being terrorism-related.
Banks in Medan have been targeted for nearly a decade. In 2003, Toni Togar, believed to be part of JI, robbed a Medan bank of Rp 100 million
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