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Usaha mengaitkan PAS dengan Al-Qaeda melibatkan Singapore?

Sdr, artikel ini dipetik dari Straits Times Singapura. Di dalamnya ada disebut bahawa Al-Qaeda mempunyai hubungan rapat dengan PAS. Saya harap sdr-sdr sekalian dapat mengambil perhatian.

http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/analysis/story/0,1870,94512,00.html

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AL-QAEDA: The Asian connection

By ROHAN GUNARATNA

AL-QAEDA'S network in the United States, Europe and East Africa has been disrupted significantly as a result of investigations and widespread arrests. In Asia, however, a network of cells and support structures remains virtually intact, both before and after Sept 11.

Al-Qaeda's Asian network originated in the early 1990s and grew rapidly, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, after Osama bin Laden moved from Sudan to Afghanistan in May 1996.

Three developments drove the formation of the Asian network. First, Al-Qaeda recruited Asian as well as Arab veterans of the Afghan anti-Soviet jihad. Second, Osama campaigned on a pan-Islamic platform that drew recruits from both Middle Eastern and Asian states. Third, from the early 1990s, Osama developed links with two groups, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf group, which had already established terrorist and insurgent capabilities in the Philippines.

The Philippine connection was forged when Osama met several hundred Moros who arrived in Afghanistan from Mindanao. Osama developed a strong relationship with the Abu Sayyaf founder, Abdurajak Janjalani, and eventually sent his brother-in-law, Mohammad Jamal Khalifa, to the Philippines to establish an Al-Qaeda presence in the region.

Many leaders and members of the Abu Sayyaf and the MILF trained in Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, and several Al-Qaeda trainers are believed to have conducted training courses in the Philippines. The Al-Qaeda input made a qualitative difference in Abu Sayyaf and MILF combatants, both ideologically and operationally.

Militant Islamic organisations in Indonesia have come under more intense scrutiny since November, when a transcript of telephone communications from the Al-Qaeda cell in Spain indicated the existence of an Al-Qaeda camp in Indonesia. However, security forces and the intelligence community have failed to identify the camp.

In July last year, an Al-Qaeda emissary hosted by Majlis Mujahidin, an Afghan veterans' group, sought to develop ties with several Indonesian Islamic groups, including Laskar Jihad. Leader Jaffar Umar Talib refused to meet the envoy, claiming publicly that Al- Qaeda was too radical. However, the chairman of the Islamic Student Movement in Jakarta told Jane's Intelligence Review that Jaffar is prepared to send Indonesians to fight for Al-Qaeda.

A foreign-intelligence agency has reported that key Osama associates Ayman al-Zawahiri and the late Mohammed Atef visited Indonesia in 2000, going to both Muluku and West Papua (Irian Jaya), two islands affected by conflict. According to the agency, Osama wanted to explore the possibility of expanding Al-Qaeda's sphere of support and operational activities into South-east Asia.

To this end, Al-Qaeda appointed Ahmad Fauzi, alias Abdul al-Hakim, to coordinate Al-Qaeda activities in the South-east Asian region. Based in Malaysia, he has special responsibility for Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, three countries with large Muslim populations.

He succeeds Osama's brother-in-law Khalifa, the previous Al-Qaeda representative to the Far East, who was arrested in Saudi Arabia after Sept 11.

Al-Qaeda also stepped up assistance to the Indonesian Islamic Liberation Front (IILF). As well as receiving training in Afghanistan, a foreign-intelligence agency reported that the IILF has received training from Al-Qaeda members in Mindanao and on an unknown Indonesian island, referred to as 'Panthbharat'.

In Malaysia, Al-Qaeda has established political ties with Parti Islam Se Malaysia (PAS) and military links with the Kumpulan Mujahideen Malaysia (KMM). The headquarters of PAS displays a poster of Osama, reflecting the party's thinking on Al-Qaeda.

As in Indonesia, there are several Islamic groups in Malaysia that support Al-Qaeda. Unlike in Indonesia, pro Al-Qaeda demonstrations are controlled by the Malaysian government.

Both terrorist groups and radical Islamic parties operate together in the region. For instance, KMM operates both in Malaysia and Indonesia, and has extensive ties with the Abu Sayyaf and MILF.

In addition to supporting the anti-Christian violence in Muluku, KMM members have conducted a few terrorist operations in Jakarta. For instance, Indonesian authorities in September arrested KMM member Zid Sharani, along with 12 other Indonesians and another Malaysian, for two bombings in the country.

At the time of the arrest, they were undergoing military training in Padeglang, West Java. Zid, to be deported to Malaysia, is an associate of Malaysian bomber Taufik Abdul Halim, who was seriously injured when the bomb he planted at a Jakarta shopping mall in August detonated accidentally.

Al-Qaeda maintains its links through several front and sympathetic organisations, including the International Islamic Relief Organisation and Mercy International in the Philippines, which is headed by Khalifa.

As terrorist support networks do not pose a direct and imminent threat to the security of host countries, many tolerate their presence and are reluctant to act against them. For instance, Indonesia permits the operation of several groups that are openly and actively supporting Al-Qaeda. Even Japan and Australia have been slow to act against terrorist support networks functioning on their soil.

In Central Asia, Al-Qaeda has developed an extensive reach by cultivating Islamic groups, especially in the Ferghana valley, the heartland of Islamic radicalism even during the Soviet period.

Under Al-Qaeda influence, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) transformed into a pan-Islamic organisation - the Islamic Party of Turkestan. Apart from trying to topple Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov, and a series of bombings in February 1999, the IMU poses a threat to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, where there are several Islamic groups that support Al-Qaeda and the IMU. By associating with the IMU, Al-Qaeda has been able to recruit several hundred Central Asians.

FINANCE AND TRAINING

IN SOUTH Asia, Al-Qaeda operates in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Al-Qaeda has offered finance and training to several anti-Shi'a groups in Pakistan, to Kashmiri groups targeting Indian security forces, and to Bangladeshi groups, notably the Bangladeshi Mujahideen. Al-Qaeda's assistance has enabled these groups to build a core training and operational cadre.

Furthermore, Al-Qaeda veterans have planned several operations for the groups, advised on their operational viability and even provided mission-specific training (model training).

The armed Sunni organisation, Army of the Prophet's Companions (Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, or SSP), openly advocates attacks on Shi'a mosques and supports the murder of Shi'a community and religious leaders. Several hundred Shi'as have been killed in SSP attacks during the last 15 years.

Since the rise of the Taleban in Afghanistan, these attacks have increased in intensity. SSP leaders accused of involvement in assassinating leaders and conducting terrorist attacks against civilians have taken refuge in Afghanistan and continue to operate from Kabul.

In response, the Shi'as built their own armed group - Army of Mohammed (Sipah-e-Muhammad, or SM). SM has carried out retaliatory attacks against Sunni preachers, including the murder of the SSP founder.

The two main Sunni extremist parties are Sipah-e-Sahaba and its underground splinter Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

From being a fringe group only two years ago, Sipah-e-Sahaba has grown in mainstream popularity. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is responsible for assassinating several prominent Shi'as last year. Both the Sunni parties are on the offensive and have killed Shi'as in Pakistan.

Side by side with the Kashmiri groups, the two parties fight against Indian security forces in Kashmir. Inside Afghanistan, these two parties are responsible for some of the worst anti-Shi'a killings. Lashkar's entire leadership is based in Kabul and its members ran several training camps along with the Taleban and Al- Qaeda.

Of two dozen Kashmiri groups, Al-Qaeda has provided extensive assistance to Harakat-ul-Mujahideen and to Jayashee Mohammed. Today, the strength of these groups is estimated at 5,000 and 2,000 members respectively.

In addition to numerous attacks against the Indian military in Kashmir, both these groups have conducted hijackings as well as suicide attacks. Harakat-ul-Mujahideen is now recruiting outside Kashmir in an effort to increase its operational reach and widen the struggle.

For example, the Indian police have arrested a number of Assamese Muslims trained in Harakat-ul-Mujahideen camps in Afghanistan. At the behest of Al-Qaeda, Harakat-ul-Mujahideen provided weapons to the Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines.

Several hundred Muslims from other Asian countries have trained in Al-Qaeda camps. On their return to their own countries, however, they have not initiated violent political campaigns.

Nonetheless, Al-Qaeda has maintained a list of their biographical data obtained at the time of recruitment. In case of need, Al-Qaeda may employ them as a reserve strike force or as helpers.

With the prospect of exploiting them and harnessing their resources whenever there is a need, Al-Qaeda has developed a strategic depth even in countries currently unaffected by conflict.

VULNERABLE COUNTRIES

AN AL-QAEDA cell in New Zealand attempted to target a nuclear power plant in Australia just before the Sydney 2000 Olympics. The plan was detected and the two Al-Qaeda members are currently in detention in New Zealand.

In the event Al-Qaeda seeks to conduct other operations in Asia, it is likely that it will consider targeting non-Muslim countries, and countries that have supported the US-led anti-terrorist campaign would feature prominently.

Although Al-Qaeda attacks have killed Muslims, it would prefer not to do so in the current environment. In that context, the threat to countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Japan is considerable.

However, considering the ease with which Al-Qaeda could mount an operation in a Muslim country, or a country with a substantial Muslim population, countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines become vulnerable.

In South Asia, South-east Asia and Central Asia, Al-Qaeda and Al- Qaeda affiliate groups such as the IMU, Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, Jayashee Mohammed and the Abu Sayyaf have staged several operations. These include several bombings in Uzbekistan, Kashmir and the Philippines.

Intelligence agencies assess Al-Qaeda also to have conducted several unclaimed small- to medium-scale bombings in the Philippines and Indonesia.

Al-Qaeda has also planned and prepared several operations that have either been postponed or cancelled. For instance, Al-Qaeda members in Singapore are believed to have been about to launch an operation, but were stopped by Osama for a reason that is not yet clear to outsiders.

There needs to be greater counter-terrorism cooperation and coordination between Asian countries. Largely due to the Indo- Pakistan conflict over Kashmir, there is little regional sharing of information in South Asia.

In contrast, security, intelligence and judicial cooperation in South-east Asia - especially within Asean - is making an impact. The Philippines, having suffered from terrorism over the years, leads the list.

The Chinese security and intelligence agencies are cooperating primarily because of the Al-Qaeda threat to western China. Largely due to arrests in Xinjiang, the Chinese service has developed reasonably good intelligence on Al-Qaeda.

DECISIVE ACTION NEEDED

CONSIDERING the escalating threat facing Asia, it is important for Asian governments to act decisively against Al-Qaeda.

Under pressure from the US-led campaign against Al-Qaeda, the formal Al-Qaeda structures, established during Osama's time in Sudan and Afghanistan, are likely to disintegrate. With the increased threat to Al-Qaeda support and operational networks in North America, Europe, East Africa and the Middle East, Asia is likely to become its last bastion.

It is important that Asian states take pre-emptive action against known Al-Qaeda members and supporters currently living in these countries.

Had Malaysia disrupted the Al-Qaeda cell in Kuala Lumpur in Dec 2000 visited by one of the suicide hijackers, Khalid al-Midhar, Al- Qaeda's multiple attacks against US targets on Sept 11 may have been prevented. The cell Khalid visited was responsible for planning and preparing the Al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole in October 2000.

Although Khalid was videotaped by a Malaysian surveillance team and it was turned over to the Central Intelligence Agency, both governments failed to arrest him. Malaysia believed that by watching him, they would discover more about his associates in Malaysia.

Despite being put on a watch-list, the US Immigration and Naturalisation Service did not detect Khalid's entry to the US. Finally, he flew on the fatal American Airlines Flight 77 under his own name to participate in the biggest terrorist attack in human history.






        
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