THE owner of a radical Islamist website who calls himself the Prince of Jihad in his blog postings has been arrested in connection with the Jakarta hotel bombings.
Counter-terror squad officers arrested Muhamad Jibril Abdurahman, alias Muhamad Ricky Ardan bin Mohammad Iqbal, near Jakarta late yesterday and also raided the office of his website, Arrahmah.com, a police spokesman said.
Police believe the Pakistan-educated suspect helped channel funds from abroad to finance the July 17 twin suicide bombings on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels that killed nine people, including six foreigners.
The source of the funds is not known, but police have said they are investigating whether the money came from al-Qaeda brokers in the Middle East, among other possible donors.
Muhamad Jibril is well-known in Indonesian radical circles as a publicist of extremist material, and is the son of a firebrand Islamist cleric who has been linked in the past to the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) regional terror network.
In addition to the website, he edited a publication called Jihadmagz which espoused jihad or “holy war” against the West.
“He chose his jihad path through working in the media. He felt there were many Muslims who were being suppressed everywhere and there was a war of thoughts,” Indonesian extremism analyst Noor Huda Ismail said.
Police said Muhamad Jibril was an accomplice of Saudi national Al Khalil Ali, who was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of smuggling money from abroad to pay for the attacks.
Muhamad Jibril, believed to be aged in his mid-20s, is the son of Indonesian cleric Abu Jibril who was arrested in Malaysia in 2001 on suspicion of being a senior JI member.
The father was deported to Indonesia where he served about five months in jail for using a forged passport. He now runs a website, Abujibriel.com, which also supports radical Islamist groups and spouts jihadist ideology.
“Jihad and terrorism are not something to be afraid of or avoided, because to cause terror to Allah’s enemies is the instruction of Islam,” said an article by the Prince of Jihad which appeared on both websites after the July 17 attacks.
Abu Jibril’s lawyer, Yusuf Sembiring, confirmed that Muhamad Jibril was the author of articles on Arrahmah.com and Abujibriel.com attributed to the Prince of Jihad.
“Abu Jibril said his son is not involved in whatever the police are accusing him of. He said Muhamad Jibril is not involved in the hotel bombings,” the lawyer said.
He said the websites were not meant to “spread terrorism” but police confirmed they were investigating Muhamad Jibril for possible breaches of the criminal code related to inciting hatred.
His website was offline today.
Police also reportedly raided Abu Jibril’s house and took laptops and copies of sermons.
The cleric accused police of seeking to “terrorise Muslims”, according to the Detikcom news website.
“I worry that Muslims will be afraid to say jihad,” he was quoted as saying.
Muhamad Jibril’s detention brings to five the number of people in custody over the hotel attacks, the worst in the mainly Muslim country since 2005.
Five other suspects are being sought, including Malaysian alleged mastermind Noordin Mohammed Top, who was reported killed in a police raid earlier this month but remains at large.
Another five members of the cell have been killed, including the operational planner who worked as a florist at the hotels, police said.
Analysts have said that if the funding for the attacks came from abroad a likely source would be al-Qaeda, but police have made no such connection.