ZAMBOANGA CITY – An Indonesian militant linked by the Philippines and the United Nations to terror groups Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya has disappeared after returning to his country from a long imprisonment in Manila for possessing explosives.
According to Indonesian news website Khabar, Agus Dwikarna – who was arrested in Manila in 2002 for possessing explosives – returned to Makassar, the provincial capital of South Sulawesi, after being deported by the Philippines last February – but he disappeared after a brief stay and this has worried Indonesian authorities.
“Agus Dwikarna could have threatened members of the Indonesian police not only in Central Sulawesi, but also throughout Indonesia – especially when he disappeared after his release,” Central Sulawesi police spokesman Soemarmo told Khabar .
The Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration branded Agus as notorious.
Dwikarna served his sentence in Bilibid Prisons and upon his release was deported to Indonesia, Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison said.
Agus was convicted July 12, 2002 by a Filipino court to serve 10 to 17 years for carrying C-4 explosives and bomb parts at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as he and two other Indonesians were leaving Manila for Bangkok in 2002.
Khabar, which is funded by the US Pacific Command, said though Agus denied charges against him, he had an extensive history of involvement in terrorist-related activities. It also quoted the UN’s Security Council Committee which listed Agus among people with alleged ties to Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya and has direct involvement with the terror group’s most senior leaders.
Quoting the UN report, Khabar said until his arrest in Manila, Agus was a major figure of Laskar Jundullah in Makassar, military wing of the Indonesian Mujahedeen Council, and he also worked as a regional head of the Indonesian branch of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, which allegedly funneled Al-Qaeda money into Southeast Asia and gave its operatives cover as charity workers.
It reported that apart from running a Sulawesi training camp, Agus escorted two of Al-Qaeda’s top leaders on a tour of Aceh province – Ayman al-Zawahiri, now the terrorist group’s top leader; and Mohammed Atef, head of Al-Qaeda’s military wing, who has since been slain.
According to the UN, the two al-Qaeda leaders visited Aceh in June 2002, but other sources date their trip to June 2000.
Agus is an associate of Jemaah Islamiya spiritual leader Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, whose group has links with the local Abu Sayyaf, blamed for the spate of terrorism and ransom kidnappings in the southern Philippines.