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Indonesia Questions German

Asia: Officials probe possible link to an Arab who allegedly planned attacks on U.S. targets.

September 19, 2002|From Reuters

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian police said Wednesday that they are questioning a German man of Arab descent over connections to an Arab who allegedly planned attacks on U.S. targets in Southeast Asia and has been linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist organization.

National police spokesman Saleh Saaf said the German, whom he declined to identify, was initially detained in Jakarta, the capital, for immigration offenses. He said police intelligence began questioning him Tuesday.

Indonesia confirmed Wednesday that the other Arab, Omar Faruq, who most security sources say is a Kuwaiti, was arrested in Indonesia in June and handed over to U.S. authorities. Faruq told U.S. officials of a plot to attack American embassies in the region.

Indonesian National Police Chief Gen. Dai Bachtiar said a preliminary investigation indicated that the detained man was linked to Faruq. He said a search of the man's home yielded documents on violence in Indonesia, but he did not elaborate.

The tip from Faruq triggered the closure of several U.S. embassies in the region, including that in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, around the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Saaf said the German was being held at an immigration detention center. He declined to say if the man was directly linked to the plots to attack U.S. targets in the region.

Indonesia has been criticized for being Southeast Asia's weak link in the war on terror. Though it has cooperated on capturing foreigners, it has avoided going after local militants, partly out of fear of upsetting moderate Muslims.

Indonesian armed forces chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto said the military was following up on information provided by Faruq. He confirmed for the first time that Faruq was arrested in June and had been handed over to U.S. officials.

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