Batam cell leader 'helped 2 Uighurs flee from Malaysia'

Gigih - linked to planned Marina Bay attack - took money from Xinjiang separatists: Police source

Alleged terrorist cell leader Gigih Rahmat Dewa (in striped shirt) with his lawyer during his trial in a Jakarta courtroom on Saturday.
Alleged terrorist cell leader Gigih Rahmat Dewa (in striped shirt) with his lawyer during his trial in a Jakarta courtroom on Saturday.ST PHOTO: WAHYUDI SOERIAATMADJA

The Batam terrorist cell accused of planning to fire a rocket at Marina Bay had allegedly tried to help two Uighurs flee to Indonesia from Malaysia, in an operation also involving a Malaysian militant cell.

Gigih Rahmat Dewa, the alleged leader of the Batam-based Katibah Gonggong Rebus terror cell, got US$3,900 (S$5,476) from a Muslim separatist group in Xinjiang, China, to help the duo, a police source told The Straits Times yesterday.

Gigih, now standing trial in a Jakarta court for planning the Singapore attack, harbouring militants and funding terror activities, had received US$2,000 and US$1,900 in October 2015 through the Western Union wire transfer service.

The two Uighurs were with the East Turkistan Islamic Movement founded by militant Uighurs, the Turkic-speaking ethnic majority in Xinjiang, in north-western China.

Gigih was one of five members of Katibah Gongong Rebus arrested by Indonesian police on Aug 5 last year for allegedly planning to hit Singapore's Marina Bay with a rocket.

  • 2

    Number of Uighurs the Batam terrorist cell allegedly tried to help to flee to Indonesia from Malaysia, in an operation also involving a Malaysian militant cell.

    5

    Number of members of the Katibah Gongong Rebus terror cell arrested by Indonesian police last year.

Speaking to The Straits Times at a courthouse on March 8, Gigih said there was no such plan. But the police source told The Straits Times yesterday that Telegram mobile message chats on Oct 23, 2015, between Gigih and Bachrun Naim, a notorious Indonesian militant, provided proof of the planned attack . They discussed the attack and said it would rely on an expert team to be sent from Syria to Batam.

Gigih's group had also facilitated the travel of militants to Syria to fight alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), or to Poso, Sulawesi, to join Indonesian fighters.

"In Indonesia... Poso was considered the militants' jihad battlefield," Mr Adhe Bhakti, a researcher at Centre for Radicalism & Deradicalisation Study, told The Straits Times.

For those going to Syria, the Batam cell would arrange a trip to Singapore for them to get immigration stamps. Passports with a Singapore immigration stamp would arouse less suspicion when militants cross over to Syria from Turkey, the police source said.

But the two Uighurs, Halide Tuerxun and Nur Mehmet Abdulla Cuma, who later adopted the Indonesian names of Doni Sanjaya and Fariz Kusuma alias Ali respectively, did not travel to Singapore.

Bachrun had asked Gigih to help the duo, said the police source.

On Sept 29, 2015, Gigih was added to a Telegram chat group created to help link the two Uighurs up with Indonesian ISIS militants.

The group, which included several Malayasia-based ISIS militants who call themselves Selatan Semenanjung Malaya, arranged for the Uighurs to go from Kuala Lumpur to Batam, via Negeri Sembilan and Johor Baru.

They were picked up in Kuala Lumpur by a Malaysian named Abu Moosa, who took them by car to Negeri Sembilan. The two Uighurs then took a public bus to Johor Baru with two other militants.

From Johor Baru, the Uighurs reached Batam by boat in October 2015. The trip cost the duo a total of 12 million rupiah (about S$1,263), which was partly paid by Gigih.

The two Uighurs were later arrested separately in police raids.

Ali, a would-be suicide bomber in a foiled attack in Indonesia, was arrested last year in Bekasi, West Java. He was tried in Jakarta and sentenced to six years' jail. Doni was arrested in Batam last May and deported.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2017, with the headline 'Batam cell leader 'helped 2 Uighurs flee from Malaysia''. Print Edition | Subscribe