Trial of terrorist in Jakarta sheds light on arms trail from southern Philippines to Indonesia

Suryadi Mas'ud leaving the courtroom on Jan 30 after judges postponed the hearing to next week. ST PHOTO: WAHYUDI SOERIAATMADJA

JAKARTA - The ongoing trial of terrorist Suryadi Mas'ud has revealed how Indonesian militants linked up with fellow networks in Marawi, southern Philippines, to procure M-16 assault rifles and handguns.

It has even shown how they set up a temporary paramilitary drill to train Indonesian militants to use the weapons.

Family feuds, general crime and rebel fighting have made the southern Philippines the primary destination for Indonesian militants seeking weapons and ammunition.

The rampant illegal arms trade there is supported by the flourishing gun handcrafting industry and availability of loose firearms.

Suryadi, alias Montilia Perez, had no difficulty finding help there, using a network he got to know while fighting alongside local rebels under the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from 1996 to 2000, according to court documents obtained by The Straits Times.

Suryadi and others who fought in the southern Philippines have become the Indonesian government's top surveillance target because they could be the link to the country's firearms supply.

Suryadi had served several years in prison for his role in the 2002 bombing of a McDonald's outlet in Makassar, south Sulawesi, and over a paramilitary training camp in Aceh in 2010.

  • The man behind the Jakarta attacks

  • JAKARTA - Iwan Darmawan Muntho, who goes by the alias 'Rois' and is in his 40s, was a cellmate of terrorist ideologue Aman Abdurrahman, 46, in Nusakambangan island prison. Both were moved to isolation cells and were barred from meeting guests other than close relatives.
    Rois is currently on death row for his part in the 2004 bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta.
    Police have said Aman and Rois also planned the Jakarta attacks on Jan 14, 2016, assisted by Abu Gar, 44, who in November 2016 was sentenced to nine years in jail for his role as a field coordinator and recruiter of the militants who carried out the attacks.
    Aman, who remains in jail, is expected to stand trial for the Jakarta attacks within the next few weeks.

In the current case, he has been indicted with planning terror acts, procuring firearms and helping to fund terrorism. The West Jakarta district court will return a verdict next Tuesday, with prosecutors demanding a 10-year jail sentence.

The 45-year-old terrorist travelled to General Santos in the southern Philippines in late September 2015. His second wife Neneng Rita Anyar was travelling with him to avert suspicion during his arms procurement mission, needed for several planned attacks back home.

Suryadi visited local militants named Marod and Dato, old friends from the MILF. Marod agreed to help and let Suryadi stay at his house.

Marod would bring home firearms which were on sale and Suryadi checked the condition of each one.

He sent photos of them to Iwan Darmawan Muntho, alias Rois, an Australian embassy bomber on death row in the Nusakambangan island prison, court documents say.

If Rois gave the nod, Suryadi would test the guns in the backyard of Marod's house. Rois, who later was placed in an isolation cell, had arranged and funded Suryadi's mission.

Suryadi paid a total of US$30,000 (S$39,000) via Western Union, using borrowed ID cards, to purchase 16 M-16 rifles, one M-14, and five handguns.

In April 2016, Suryadi met Isnilon Hapilon, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria's (ISIS) South-east Asia chief, and proposed setting up a short paramilitary training programme for Indonesian militants who would be tasked with picking up the firearms from the Philippines and taking them back home to Indonesia.

Isnilon agreed and an eight-day paramilitary training session was held in Basilan, using 12 M-16 assault rifles that Isnilon provided.

Suryadi earlier handed US$20,000 to Isnilon for the 12 M-16s and US$5,000 to buy a car and a boat to transport the other firearms from General Santos to Zamboanga, then to Basilan, before crossing over to the Indonesian territory of Kalimantan.

Four militants from Indonesia and five from Basilan participated in the paramilitary training which was led by a local named Ibnu Qoyyim.

Suryadi was arrested in a West Java hotel as part of police anti-terror raids on March 23 last year without ever managing to take any of the assault rifles to Indonesia. However, the five handguns were transported through the Sangihe island-Bitung, North Sulawesi route.

Police suspected two of the five handguns were used in the Jan 14, 2016 attacks in Jakarta that killed four bystanders and four attackers while injuring more than 20.

Court documents also show how in October 2016, Suryadi travelled to Udon Thani in Thailand with his first wife Siti Armi Rahman Kotta on a mission to help an ISIS-affiliated Uighur, identified as Hanzolah. He had broken out of a local immigration detention centre and needed help to cross over to Malaysia then to travel to Turkey.

Before leaving, Mahmud Ahmad, a former university lecturer who helped lead and finance the assault on Marawi, told Suryadi to contact a cleric in Pattani, who then referred Suryadi to contact an individual named Yakoh Sue Mae, who would assist with the overland trip to Malaysia.

Suryadi met Hanzolah in Udon Thani and stayed at a local hotel. But during their stay, Suryadi and his wife were approached and interrogated by Thailand immigration officers in a random check at the hotel, where he told the officers they were in Thailand to celebrate a wedding anniversary. Hanzolah fled the hotel and Suryadi never met him again.

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