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Indonesian linked to al Qaeda cell

Dwikarna's connections with al Qaeda in Europe went to the highest levels, officials say
Dwikarna's connections with al Qaeda in Europe went to the highest levels, officials say  

From Maria Ressa
CNN Correspondent

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- An Indonesian man is being linked to the top echelons of the al Qaeda terrorist network with officials saying he allegedly helped bring hundreds of operatives from Europe to a training camp he set up in Indonesia.

Agus Dwikarna was arrested in March in the Philippines and sentenced last week to up to ten years in prison for possession of explosives.

Intelligence officials tell CNN that the Dwikarna also used the training camp to help fuel sectarian violence in Indonesia in which thousands died.

Though Dwikarna claims he was set up, intelligence officials in the region tell CNN that he is connected to the al Qaeda cell in Spain whose leader, Imad Eddin Barakat Yarbas, was in frequent contact with Mohammed Atta, the suspected leader of the September 11 hijackers. (Al Qaeda suspects due in Madrid court)

Yarbas has been in Spanish custody since last November, charged with recruiting and fund-raising for al Qaeda.

After Barakat's arrest, Spanish police began looking for the Indonesian who worked with him: Parlindungan Siregar.

Siregar worked as the go-between man for Dwikarna and arranged for several hundred al Qaeda operatives from Europe to travel to Indonesia for training, Spanish authorities say.

Training camps

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A Spanish court document released last November says that Siregar, "recruited mujahideens in Spain to be sent to terrorist-military training camps in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Indonesia."

The document called Siregar, "the leader of one of the existing camps in [Indonesia] at the service of Osama bin Laden."

Intelligence officials tell CNN that the camp in Indonesia was set up by Dwikarna, who commanded Laskar Jundullah, an extremist militant group based in Poso, on Sulawesi east of Jakarta.

Intelligence documents obtained by CNN say the camp helped fuel Muslim-Christian violence in Poso and nearby Ambon in Indonesia's Maluku Islands where nearly 10,000 people have died there since 1999 because of sectarian violence.

After September 11, officials in the region say Ambon became the new Afghanistan for Muslim fighters around the world.

"They were initially inspired by the war in Afghanistan. Now without Afghanistan, they use Ambon in the Malukus as the new battleground," Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's senior minister, said.

Highest levels

But Dwikarna's connections with al Qaeda in Europe went much further and reached to the highest levels.

Intelligence officials say that in June 2000, Dwikarna acted as a guide for al Qaeda leaders who visited Indonesia: Osama bin Laden's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohammed Atef, al Qaeda's former military chief.

Religious violence in Ambon and Poso has left almost 10,000 dead
Religious violence in Ambon and Poso has left almost 10,000 dead  

"This visit was part of a wider strategy of shifting the base of Osama Bin Laden's terrorist operations from the Subcontinent to South East Asia," an intelligence document obtained by CNN explains. (Bin Laden sought Indonesian base)

Though that move didn't happen, intelligence officials say that it is becoming clear that Osama bin Laden exploited Muslim discontent around the world to create potent, homegrown terrorist networks.

These networks may have worked together to plan the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, officials say.

U.S. sources and Asian intelligence officials now tell CNN they believe the planning for September 11 started in Malaysia and ended in Spain and may have been helped by men like Dwikarna.




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