4 Uighurs held in Indonesia to face charges

4 Uighurs held in Indonesia to face charges

FOUR foreign men arrested by counter-terrorism police have been formally named as suspects and detained for violating anti-terrorism and immigration laws, said Indonesia's National Police Chief, General Sutarman.

The four, who police identified as ethnic Uighurs from China's restive Xinjiang province, were arrested last Saturday and will be formally charged at a later date.

A counter-terrorism investigator said the four had enrolled in a terror training camp in Poso run by the Eastern Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT), news website Beritasatu.com reported.

"They wanted paramilitary training and to learn how to assemble bombs and weapons with Santoso's group, before returning to their country to put that into action," the investigator said.

MIT is led by Santoso, a wanted militant who in July pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, in a widely circulated video.

The arrest marked the first time that radicals from Xinjiang have tried to connect with their Indonesian counterparts, and raises concern that even as developments in the Middle East are rekindling old militant networks, new ones may be forming.

Terrorism analyst Al Chaidar told The Straits Times: "This suggests Santoso's message has travelled. His mention of a transnational jihad has also moved and affected some to act."

The four men were carrying false Turkish passports, which identified them as Abdul Basyit, 19, Ahmed Bozoghlan, 28, Atlinci Bayram, 19, and Alphin Zubaidan, 27.

Gen Sutarman said earlier that they bought these passports for US$1,000 (S$1,270) each in Thailand, from where they flew to Kuala Lumpur, and then to Bandung, West Java.

They took another flight to Makassar, South Sulawesi, where three other men who were also arrested picked them up.

Yesterday, police released two of those arrested, saying they were just drivers. But the third man, Syaiful Priyatna, a 29-year-old teacher, was detained for having harboured a fugitive.

Two other suspects were also detained in Palu on Monday in connection with the case: Akbar, who owned a house where the four stayed, and Kalman, a member of Santoso's group.

zakirh@sph.com.sg

 


This article was first published on September 20, 2014.
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