Manila – Militants from Indonesia and the Philippines are working together to seek funds from sponsors in the Middle East to finance their weapons purchase and new terror attacks. Details of the fund-raising effort and planned attacks were obtained from two suspected militants who had knowledge of Filipino rebel activities. The two were captured in Indonesia recently, according to Philippine government reports.
The captured militants - Abdullah Sunata, allegedly the head of a group called Kompak in Ambon; and Encen Kurnia, who reportedly belongs to Negara IslamIndonesia - were among 15 suspected militants captured by Indonesian police during an anti-insurgency sweep from June to July, the Associated Press quoted the government reports as saying.
Four of the 15, including Sunata and Kurnia, had received military training in southern Philippine rebel camps. The two later helped organise covert training and escort Indonesian recruits from their country to the southern region of Mindanao, according to the reports.
In letters found by Indonesian authorities, Sunata separately discussed with two compatriots hiding in the Philippines the fund-raising campaign and planned attacks in the Philippines as well as efforts to obtain explosives in the country for an unspecified attack in Indonesia.
One letter gave the specific quantity and type of arms, including light machine-guns and anti-tank weapons, that Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiah rebels sought to battle Philippine troops and police.
According to one report, Abu Sayyaf rebels may stage new kidnappings to raise funds if they fail to get money from foreign supporters.
The reports on the collaboration between Indonesian and Philippine militants came as the world marks the fourth anniversary of the terror attacks in the United States on Sept 11, 2001.
With groups like Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiah continuing to pose a major security threat to Asia, the question some are asking is this: Has the war on terrorism made any impact since 911?
Terrorism watchers interviewed by Singapore's The Straits Times believe that it has. They pointed out that security within Asia is in much better shape today than it was four years ago.
"It has become very difficult for states to sponsor terrorism now and militants have been deterred from proceeding with many of their plans," Mr Ajai Sahni, executive director of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management, told the newspaper.
* Filipino and Indonesian militants collaborating to raise funds for new attacks: reports (The Jakarta Post, Sept 9)
* Terror threat lurks in S-E Asia (The Straits Times, Sept 11)