Suspect admits role in Noordin terror link

Terror suspect Syaefudin Zuhri played a significant role in the terror network covering Java and Sumatra, the South Jakarta District Court heard Monday.

Zuhri admitted before the court that he organized a meeting between terror convict Muhammad Thaib and Malaysian-born fugitive Noordin M. Top.

Thaib, who has been serving a 12-year jail term, was the leader of a Sumatra terror network called the “Palembang Group” that planned to blow up the Bedudel Café in Bukit Tinggi, West Sumatra, several years ago.

“At that time, Thaib asked me if I could show him how to implement jihad,” he said in court.

Zuhri said the conversation occurred when he visited Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra, to deliver sermons to a Koran recital group.

As a follow up to the meeting, Thaib went to Kroya, a small town in Central Java, to meet Zuhri, who promised to introduce him to Noordin M. Top.

Zuhri said they met twice and the meetings were usually conducted in an abandoned house at night.

However, Zuhri claimed he did not know what Thaib and Noordin were discussing because he was not present at their meeting.

“I was just facilitating the meeting and didn’t know anything about their discussion,” he said.

Asked when he first met Noordin, Zuhri acknowledged that he had met him through his
friend named Ali several years back.

“But even though I knew Noordin personally, I never met him directly.

“Every meeting was held through a person named Santo,” he recalled.

He also said Noordin M. Top had married Arina Rahmah, daughter of Baridin Latif, Zuhri’s

Noordin had two children with Arina.

Zuhri acknowledged that he went to Afghanistan in the wake of Russia’s invasion of the country in the mid 1980s.

He spent years there studying Islam and undergoing military training.

He went to Afghanistan with Ali Imron and Hisyam.

Zuhri also acknowledged that he had spent his first years in Afghanistan with other convicted
terrorists such as Imam Samudra, Abu Dujana, Anis Sugandi and Nasir Abbas, who has been de-radicalized.

Nasir was arrested by the police during an operation in the outskirts of Jakarta.

He then left the group and cooperated with the police.

Nasir allegedly often informs the public about how terrorists build their networks and believes that terrorism taints the image of Islam.

Syaefudin Zuhri was arrested just a few days before the July 17 bombings last year of two upscale hotels, the Ritz-Carlton and J.W. Marriot in Jakarta, which claimed nine lives including two suicide bombers.

Zuhri’s hearing session was adjourned to March 8.

In a separate courtroom, a hearing session of Amir Abdillah, another defendant of the July 17 J.W. Marriott — Ritz-Carlton bombings featured witnesses Windu Oktaviani, Dikdik Ahmad Taufik and Mustafa Karim.

The witnesses are hotel employees who saw the two suicide bombers just before they blew themselves up.

Amir Abdillah was arrested in North Jakarta, along with Yayan, who was believed to have been groomed by Noordin and Ibrohim to become a suicide bomber.

Their target was reportedly President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.