Muslim militants in the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines and their Indonesian allies have been trying to solicit money from unidentified Middle Eastern financiers to buy weapons and fund new terror attacks, according to government reports.
Details of the fund-raising effort and planned attacks were obtained by Philippine security officials from Indonesian counterparts, who recently captured two suspected militants with knowledge of Filipino rebel activities, the reports said.
Copies of the reports, which summarized intelligence relayed by Indonesian authorities, were seen by The Associated Press on Friday.
The captured militants in Indonesia – Abdullah Sunata, allegedly the head of a group called Kompak in Ambon, and Encen Kurnia, who reportedly belongs to Negara Islam Indonesia – were among 15 suspected militants captured by the Indonesian police during an anti-insurgency sweep from June to July, the reportssaid.
Four of the 15, including Sunata and Kurnia, had received military training in southern Philippine rebel camps. The two later helped organize 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 – Umar Patek and Pitono or Dulmatin – 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,the reports said.
Dulmatin and Patek, both suspected leaders of the al-Qaeda-linked Jamaah Islamiyah, have been hunted for their alleged role in terrorist attacks in Indonesia, including the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people.
During interrogation, Sunata allegedly disclosed that “he was tasked by Patek to solicit funds for terror attacks in the Philippines and recruit suicide bombers in Indonesia to be sent to central Mindanao,” one report said.
A letter by Patek to Sunata, also found by Indonesian authorities, discussed efforts by the Abu Sayyaf and the Jamaah Islamiyah to solicit funds from Arab financiers for the purchase of weapons.
The letter gave the specific quantity and type of arms, including light machine-guns and anti-tank weapons, that Abu Sayyaf and Jamaah Islamiyah rebels sought to battle Philippine troops and police, said a Philippine security official, who demanded anonymity.
According to one report, Abu Sayyaf rebels may stage new kidnappings to raise funds if they fail to get money from foreign supporters.
In a swap of letters also discovered by the Indonesian police, Sunata separately discussed with Dulmatin the deployment of Indonesian would-be suicide bombers for an attack in the Philippines, the purchase of explosives in the country for an unspecified bombing in Indonesia, recent arrests of Indonesian militants in the Philippines and some helpful tips in casing potential targets, the reports said.