Moderat Reviews

Mas Slamet Kastari and Noordin M Top behind Palembang Cell

Posted on: July 28, 2008

Mas Slamet Kastari and Noordin M Top behind Palembang Cell

The uncovering of Palembang Cell in the late of June 2008 has indicated that its ties to Mas Slamet Kastari and a Malaysian citizen Noordin M. Top are beginning to emerge. It has also indicated that hardline JI splinter group has tried to shift their activities from both Java and Sulawesi into Sumatera due to the hot pursuit carried out by security apparatuses in Java and Sulawesi post the destruction of bases of Mujahidin and JI in Poso in early 2008.

Palembang Cell Planning

The Palembang cell had planned to bomb the well-known Kafe Bedubel in the Chinese section of Bukitinggi, West Sumatra. The plan was cancelled, however, because of the fear of killing Moslems and the cell had begun planning operations in Jakarta, where the likelihood of killing foreigners and non-Moslems would be greater.

Mohammed Hassan is Palembang Cell Leader

One source said the important figure (probably a leader) of the cell is believed to be a 35 year old Singaporean English teacher of Pakistani heritage named Mohammed Hassan (alias  MH Saynuddin alias Omar, alias Fajar, alias Alim, alias Taslim, alias Abu Hazam) who was already wanted by Singaporean authorities. Hassan tought English language at the Cambrichindo English Language Centre in Banyuasin, outside of Palembang, and lived with his pregnant wife and two children. His capture on June 28 followed the issuance of an arrest warrant by Singapore and after four days of interrogations led to the break that shattered the Palembang cell.

Hassan was a protege of JI bombmaker Dr. Azahari and had also trained with al-Qaida in Afghanistan. He is alleged to have also met with Usama bin Laden on several occasions. Another source said that Mohamed Hassan is a JI member led by Mas Slamat Kastari who was involved in the plot to hijack and ram the plane into Changi International Airport in 2001. He admitted that he met Noordin M. Top for several times in relations with his activities in Palembang.  

Other Members of Palembang Cell

The Other members of the cell are identified as :

1.    Ani Sugandi alias Gandi alias Gandhi. He a 42 year old alumni on the Afghan jihad (the fifth batch, along with Nasir Abas) had fought against the Soviets between 1987 and 1992. Gandi served as headmaster of Al Furqon Baitussufah Islamic Boarding School at Bumiarjo village, in Palembang. This school has a link up with Ulul Albab Islamic Boarding School in Lampung which is also run by JI member. He is suspected of harboring Hassan. He is also suspected to be the Indonesian leader of the Palembang cell. Gandhi arrested when Detachment 88 raided the Islamic boarding school in Bumiarjo village  together with Rohman, Ali and Agus Carang.

2.    Rohman, a 35 year old private sector worker and member of the Anti-Apostacy Forum (FAKTA) who participated in the Father Joshua plot.

3.    Ali, a 30 year old teacher at Pondok Pesantren Al Furqon Baitussufah and member of FAKTA. He was captured with a bomb inside of a tupperwear container.

4.    Agus Carang, a 36 year old Palembang prison employee and member of FAKTA who participated in the plans to bomb Kafe Bedubel and Father Joshua plot.

5.   Musa (alias Abdul Rahman, alias Ifan), a 35 year old private sector worker who served as the head of FAKTA, which campaigns against religious conversion. He is suspected to be the main bombmaker and was involved in the plan to bomb Kafe Bedubel and the 2005 plot to assassinate Father Joshua in Bandung. He attempted to evade capture on his motorbike but crashed into a police motorcycle. During his capture he had a 38 mm Colt handgun with 6 bullets. One of his activities is always doing the morning call to prayer (adzan Shubuh) with a bit of a Javanese accent at our local mosque.

6.   Agus Tiawarman, a 28 year old teacher at  Al Furqon Baitussufah. He is also suspected of harboring Hassan.

7.   Sugi, a 22 year old student and member of FAKTA. He was trained in bombmaking and arrested at Warnet Mujahid (Mujahid Internet Cafe) in Lorong Banten, Palembang.

8.   Wahyudi, a 26 year old rubber worker and member of FAKTA. He lived with Heri Purwanto and is suspected of guarding the bombs.

9.  Heri Purwanto, a 25 year old freelancer and member of FAKTA. He lived with Wahyudi and is suspected of guarding the bombs.

Evidences at Location

The investigation uncovered a cache of bombs and weapons, including 20 electronic pipe bombs, 50 38-calibre bullets, 2 cans of black powder, cables, various electronics, timers and a bombmaking manual. Some of the bombs were reportedly set to explode. The A cache of chemicals were also discovered, including aluminium powder, pottasium nitrate, pottasium chlorat, nitrate and urea. Eighteen computers were also seized during the raids, which may provide significant information on the current status of JI.

According to various press reports, Hassan led authorities to Musa, who attempted to flee on his motor bike. His arrest then led to the Mujahid Internet Cafe, where Sugi was caught. They then descended on the rented house where Wahyudi and Heri Purwanto were protecting the bombs and bombmaking materials. (TW) 

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