Jakarta - First, two of Malaysia's nationals were identified as the masterminds behind major terrorist attacks in Indonesia. Now, an Indonesian newspaper has reported that funding for the duo's activities also originated from Malaysia. Not surprisingly, the Malaysian government has dismissed the Media Indonesia report as "baseless".
The vernacular newspaper on Nov 15 reported that Jemaah Islamiah (JI) bomb-expert Azahari Husin and his accomplice, Noordin Mohd Top, received funding from sources in Malaysia. Azahari was shot dead during a gunbattle with police in east Java on Nov 9 while Noordin managed to elude capture.
The report, quoting a local intelligence observer, Wawan H Purwanto, said a foreign diplomat from an unnamed country was the intermediary and was responsible for channelling the money to Azahari and his accomplices. The money was made available to them by "Suf", a courier from Malaysia.
"The money came from sympathisers of Azahari and Noordin," Wawan was quoted as saying. "The diplomat who had international immunity facilitated the funds to the terrorist group with the aim of creating instability," he added.
Wawan said that between 2002 and 2003, some foreign banks based in Malaysia had been used for money transfers to the two Malaysian fugitives.
In Kuala Lumpur, Deputy Internal Security Minister Noh Omar demanded proof that Malaysia served as a source of funds for the two terrorists' activities. "These allegations are baseless. It has always been the policy of the government not to support terrorism," Mr Noh said.
"The people who say this should provide evidence to our police. If they can't do so, they should keep quiet, because such allegations can tarnish Malaysia's image and are detrimental to the good relations between us and Indonesia."
However, he added that if there was proof, then action would be taken against those funding JI's activities. "We will use every law at our disposal, including the Internal Security Act, to see that these people are punished," Mr Noh said.
* 'Claims of Malaysian funding unfounded' (New Straits Times, Nov 17)
* Funds for Azahari originated from Malaysia? (Bernama, Nov 16)