MANILA — Indonesian officials have asked Philippine authorities to track down an Indonesian fugitive wanted in connection with several beheadings who is now helping to train militants in an insurgency-wracked Philippine region, security officials said Sunday.
Sanusi, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, has been monitored in Mindanao's marshy heartland, two Philippine intelligence officials said. He fled to the region after being accused of ordering militants in 2007 to behead three people in the eastern Indonesian town of Poso, where Islamist militants had launched a series of bloody attacks on Christians and government workers.
An Indonesian Embassy official said his government has asked Philippine authorities to capture Sanusi, who was spotted at a mosque near southern Cotabato city during the holy month of Ramadan last fall. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
A senior Philippine military intelligence official said Sanusi has emerged as a key operative of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian terror group linked to al-Qaida. He is believed to have helped fund and organize religious and combat training for new Indonesian militant recruits in Mindanao, where local guerrillas are fighting to create an independent Muslim state.
Sanusi has not been implicated in any attack in the Philippines and is not on any terrorist backlist because authorities are only just beginning to uncover his activities and the role he plays, according to the military intelligence official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his post.
Another government intelligence official said Sanusi has been trying to link up Filipino Muslim guerrillas with potential financial donors in the Middle East.
There are at least two dozen Jemaah Islamiyah members in central Mindanao. At least another 25 Indonesian and Asian militants, who belong to other underground groups, have been given refuge mainly by the Abu Sayyaf extremist group on southern Jolo island and nearby Basilan province, according to the military. Abu Sayyaf is another Southeast Asian terror network linked to al-Qaida.
Among the Indonesian militants allied with the Abu Sayyaf were Umar Patek and Dulmatin, who had recently returned to Indonesia after hiding for years in Mindanao. Indonesian police killed Dulmatin, Southeast Asia's most-wanted terrorist and a master bomb-maker, in an Internet cafe near Jakarta last March 9.
Patek and Dulmatin had been suspected of helping plot the 2002 nightclub bombings that killed 202 people in Bali, Indonesia.
American troops have provided combat training, intelligence and weapons to the underfunded Philippine military for years to help combat the Abu Sayyaf, which is on US and European terrorist lists, and its Asian militant allies. (AP)