AN Indonesian police officer who quit the force to become a terrorist says he is affiliated to al-Qa’ida and has trained about 170 militants to wage jihad.
Mohammed Sofyan Tsauri, 34, made the confession to journalists yesterday as he appeared at a Jakarta court for the start of his trial on terrorism-related charges. “I’m affiliated with al-Qa’ida and in contact with Abu Sayyaf,” he said, referring to Osama bin Laden’s network and a Philippines-based Islamist militant outfit.
“I became a terrorist after I quit the police (in 2008) . . . What I’ve done isn’t an act of terror, it’s an obligatory religious activity ordered by God.” Tsauri, alias Abu Ayyash, was arrested this year as part of a sweep of Islamist militants linked to a training camp that was discovered in February in Aceh province.
The camp was under the command of Indonesian terror mastermind Dulmatin, killed by police in March, who was one of the architects of the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. The former police officer could face the death sentence if convicted of charges including supplying weapons for terrorist acts.
Tsauri said Allah guided him to meet Dulmatin in 2008 and join his effort to set up a new terrorist network in Aceh province, the most devoutly Islamic part of the mainly Muslim archipelago. His activities included recruiting former rebels from Aceh’s disbanded separatist movement to the jihadists’ cause, supplying weapons and conducting military-style training.
“I have trained about 100 people in early 2009 and on another occasion there were about 67 people,” he said. Indonesia’s jihadist “factions” had agreed to change tactics from indiscriminate, Bali-style bombings to more focused gun attacks that would minimise Muslim casualties, he said.
He was not specific about the group’s targets, but said they included foreigners. “You should understand already that al-Qa’ida has always had foreign targets,” Tsauri said. “We changed our pattern from bomb attacks to a war with guns.