US Treasury designates 3 Jemaah Islamiyah operatives as terrorists

Today the US Treasury added three Jemaah Islamiyah operatives to the list of specially designated global terrorists. Two of them, Umar Patek and Muhammad Jibril Abdul Rahman, are currently in Indonesian custody. Patek was captured in January in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the same city where Osama bin Laden was killed.

The third operative, Abdul Rahim Ba’asyir, is still at large. Rahim has sworn allegiance to Osama bin Laden, served as a key facilitator between the two terror groups, led a Jemaah Islamiyah cell in Karachi, Pakistan, and was instrumental in conducting outreach to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, according to the Treasury statement.

From the Treasury press release on the Jemaah Islamiyah designations:

Umar Patek

Umar Patek is a senior member of the JI network and has planned and funded multiple JI terrorist attacks in the Philippines and Indonesia. Patek has also trained operatives associated with the terrorist organization the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and personally developed explosive devices for this Philippines-based organization. He was detained in Pakistan in early 2011 and was recently extradited from Pakistan to Indonesia.

As of early 2010, Patek was considered to be one of the JI network’s top leaders. In his capacity as a leader of the JI network in Mindanao, the Philippines, Patek received approximately $29,000 to cover his expenses and all of his JI group’s militant activities in the Southern Philippines. Patek obtained funding for operations that were to include a large-scale car bombing in metropolitan Manila, attacks on Philippine military camps in Mindanao and assassinations of prominent foreigners.

In 2002, Patek was involved in planning and preparing for the October 2002 Bali attacks. A few weeks before the blasts, Patek attended the meeting in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia, where participants — including now deceased JI leaders Dulmatin, Samudra and Mukhlas — agreed to execute the Bali bombings. Patek also was personally involved in assembling the van bomb and explosives used in the Bali attack.

As of mid-2007, Patek and JI leader Dulmatin were teaching ASG members bomb-making techniques including training in Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The IEDs were intended to block Armed Forces of Philippine troops who might be in pursuit of JI and the ASG. As of early 2006, Patek had built bombs for the ASG using 60 mm mortar bombs.

Abdul Rahim Ba’asyir (Abdul Rahim)

Abdul Rahim Ba’asyir is a JI network leader who has trained and led JI operatives in South and Southeast Asia since the late 1990s, and has provided facilitation and other support to al-Qa’ida. As of mid-2009, Abdul Rahim was regarded as a senior JI leader with the ability to instigate violence.

In 2005, Abdul Rahim was selected as the leader of JI’s administrative region, Wakalah, in central Java, Indonesia. As such, Abdul Rahim was responsible for overseeing JI cells, had full knowledge of certain JI operations in Indonesia in 2005 and 2006 and maintained close relations with clandestine elements of JI in 2007.

Abdul Rahim served from the late 1990s until 2002 as a leader of JI’s Al-Ghuraba cell in Karachi, Pakistan. A smaller organization modeled after JI, Al-Ghuraba was formed with the approval of al-Qa’ida and JI leader Hambali to groom the next generation of JI leaders, provide them with training in weapons and explosives and give them firsthand experience in militant operations. Hambali also planned for Al-Ghuraba to become a cover entity for supporting the travel of JI operatives to obtain al-Qa’ida training in Afghanistan.

Abdul Rahim was appointed by Hambali to lead JI’s Al-Ghuraba cell because Abdul Rahim was a recognized figure within JI and al-Qa’ida. As the Al-Ghuraba leader, Abdul Rahim indoctrinated students to become future JI leaders and instructed that Al-Ghuraba cell members should kill Americans at every opportunity. Abdul Rahim also taught them how to carry out a hijacking operation. Hambali was designated by the United States pursuant to E.O. 13224 and added to the United Nations (UN) 1267 Committee’s list in January 2003.

While in Pakistan and Afghanistan from the late 1990s to mid-2002, Abdul Rahim also served as JI’s main contact with al-Qa’ida and played a key facilitation role for al-Qa’ida. Abdul Rahim swore an oath of loyalty to Usama bin Laden and provided logistical, communications and media support to al-Qa’ida in several instances. Abdul Rahim also served the role of an al-Qa’ida conduit for fighters in Pakistan and as an intermediary between Hambali and al-Qa’ida, relaying messages between them.

Abdul Rahim was one of several al-Qa’ida members who controlled an al-Qa’ida media center in Afghanistan and directed its activities. The media center produced videos and photos for al-Qa’ida propaganda. In May 2001, Abdul Rahim was also present at a meeting of selected 9/11 hijackers in Afghanistan and likely participated in making the videos of their last wills and testaments. Upon returning to Indonesia in 2002, Abdul Rahim continued to provide support for al-Qa’ida. As of early 2004, Abdul Rahim was reportedly al-Qa’ida’s only contact in Southeast Asia. Abdul Rahim regularly passed information to a senior al-Qa’ida operative known as Abu Talha until at least mid-2004.

Abdul Rahim has also been involved in JI’s outreach to the Pakistan-based terrorist organization Lashkar-e Taiba (LET). Sometime after 1999, Abdul Rahim was tasked by JI member Zulkarnaen to run a madrassa in Pakistan and was encouraged to expand cooperation between JI and LET through this madrassa. Zulkarnaen was designated by the United States pursuant to E.O. 13224 and added to the UN 1267 Committee’s list in May 2005.

Muhammad Jibril Abdul Rahman (Jibril)

Muhammad Jibril Abdul Rahman is a senior member of the JI network and has been directly involved in obtaining funding for terrorist attacks and other JI-linked operational activities. Jibril has solicited funds on behalf of now-deceased senior JI member Noordin Mohammad Top, who led the JI faction that conducted the group’s July 2009 attacks, which killed seven people and wounded approximately 50 others in Jakarta. At a meeting with Top and Saefudin Zuhri, the now deceased main plotter of the July 2009 bombings, Jibril agreed to provide Top with funding for terrorist operations. He then contacted his brother to request that he arrange for approximately $10,000 in cash to be passed to Top.

A letter found on Top’s laptop written by Zuhri identified Jibril as the connection between Top’s network and foreigners providing funding.

As of late 2008, Jibril was working on behalf of JI member Imam Samudra and the other JI Bali bombers. Samudra was executed by a firing squad in Indonesia in November 2008 for his role in the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people.

Jibril was a senior member of JI’s Pakistan-based Al-Ghuraba cell and had been carefully preselected for travel to Pakistan as a member of that cell. While in Pakistan, Jibril participated in military training and in 2001 was dispatched to Kashmir by JI member and Al-Ghuraba cell leader Gun Gun Rusman Gunawan. Gunawan was designated by the U.S. pursuant to E.O. 13224 and added to the UN 1267 Committee’s list in April 2006. Jibril returned to Pakistan in 2007, where he met with al-Qa’ida and Taliban personnel.

He was sentenced in Indonesia to five years in jail in June 2010 for concealing information about terrorist crimes in connection with the July 2009 attacks in Jakarta and for falsifying documents.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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