Batam militants jailed for terrorism conspiracy

(From left) Leonardo Hutajulu, Hadi Gusti Yanda, Gigih Rahmat Dewa, Tarmidzi, Trio Syafidro and Eka Saputra in court yesterday. The judges said that there was insufficient evidence to convict them for the plot to attack Singapore, but they were guilt
(From left) Leonardo Hutajulu, Hadi Gusti Yanda, Gigih Rahmat Dewa, Tarmidzi, Trio Syafidro and Eka Saputra in court yesterday. The judges said that there was insufficient evidence to convict them for the plot to attack Singapore, but they were guilty of other terrorism offences.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

But insufficient evidence to convict the six for rocket attack plot on Marina Bay, say judges

Six Indonesian militants arrested for planning to fire a rocket at Singapore's Marina Bay from Batam Island have been sentenced to between three and four years in jail for conspiracy to commit terrorism.

A panel of judges at a district court in Jakarta, led by District Judge Tarigan Muda Limbong, said yesterday that although there was insufficient evidence to convict them for the plot to attack Singapore, the men were still guilty of other offences under Indonesia's anti-terror laws.

The alleged leader of the Batam terrorist cell, Gigih Rahmat Dewa, 31, was jailed for four years for harbouring two Uighurs whom he had helped escape from Malaysia to Indonesia.

The other five from the group - Hadi Gusti Yanda, 20; Tarmidzi, 21; Leonardo Hutajulu, 24; Eka Saputra, 35; and Trio Syafidro, 46 - will serve one year less for concealing information on terrorist activities.

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The verdict follows twin suicide bombings in East Jakarta on May 23 which killed three policemen, and comes amid fears of a spillover of fighting from the siege on Marawi City in the southern Philippines by Islamic Maute militants.

Gigih, Hadi, Tarmidzi, Eka and Trio were rounded up on Aug 5 last year in Batam by Indonesian counter-terrorism police Detachment 88 in connection with the plan to attack Singapore, while Leonardo was arrested the following month.

The verdict follows the twin suicide bombings in East Jakarta on May 23 which killed three policemen, and comes amid fears of a spillover of fighting from the siege on Marawi City in the southern Philippines by Islamic Maute militants.

All six were also charged in January with funding terrorist activities under Indonesia's Anti-Terrorism Act, which was enacted the year after the 2002 Bali bombings that claimed 202 lives.

The law is currently being reviewed by lawmakers to give the police and military more powers in Indonesia's war on terror.

Gigih and his men denied all the charges when the trial began in February.

Prosecutors also encountered difficulties producing witnesses to testify against the group, known as Katibah Gonggong Rebus, during subsequent hearings at the East Jakarta District Court.

Evidence indicated that Gigih and his men had pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) sometime in August 2015.

Gigih was also said to have ties to Bahrun Naim, an ISIS operative who has had a hand in several other terror plots in Indonesia.

Bahrun allegedly instructed him to set up a travel agency in Tanjung Pinang as a front to help generate revenue and launder money for their cause, as well as to help facilitate the travel of Muslim militants.

These include those who want to travel to the Middle East to join ISIS, or to Poso, Central Sulawesi, to link up with the East Indonesia Mujahideen terrorists.

Gigih was accused of helping two Uighurs from a Muslim separatist group in Xinjiang, China, escape from Malaysia to Indonesia.

One of the Uighurs was caught last year in Bekasi, in West Java, with plans to mount a suicide bombing.

Police sources told The Straits Times that these activities were said to be funded by Bahrun, who was placed on a United States terrorist watchlist earlier this year.

According to the US Treasury Department, Bahrun had transferred nearly US$72,000 (S$99,400) "to an associate in Indonesia, purportedly to conduct attacks on his instructions".

The US authorities did not identify the associate, but prosecutors said during Gigih's hearing that a bank account used by several Indonesian militants with ties to ISIS was found in his name.

Money drawn from the same account also funded terror plots in Indonesia, added the prosecutors.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2017, with the headline 'Batam militants jailed for terrorism conspiracy'. Print Edition | Subscribe