Terror groups turn Medan into fund-raising center
Masked suspect: Dozens of armed police personnel escort terrorist suspect Umar after raiding a house in Medan, North Sumatra, on Thursday. The house was believed to be owned by terror groups. Antara/Irsan MulyadiThe National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) has revealed that terror groups have turned Medan, North Sumatra, into a center for fund-raising in Indonesia, following the discovery of assets worth billions of rupiah in various locations across the city.
BNPT head, Insp. Gen. (ret.) Ansyad Mbai, said Medan had been chosen as a fund-raising center by terrorist groups because the city was regarded as an advanced economic hub.
Ansyad added that terrorist networks were still present in Medan so it was logical that they use it as a place to gather logistics for terror activities.
He said his agency had discovered and seized a significant number of assets from various locations in the city, such as on Jl. Pancing.
Ansyad confirmed that the value of the seized assets reached billions of rupiah, primarily in the form of houses, cars and motorcycles.
“They own assets in Medan worth billions of rupiah, all of which were derived through fraudulent online multilevel marketing [MLM] transactions,” Ansyad told The Jakarta Post in Medan on Thursday.
He said all the assets in Medan had been acquired by the terrorist groups via the Internet by hacking into MLMs. Ansyad explained that some of the terrorist suspects became MLM members and then sought out new members to get credit points.
“The hackers transferred the credit points to their accounts and then sold them to brokers who transferred the money equivalent to their bank accounts,” explained Ansyad, adding that this kind of fund-raising had been taking place for years.
When asked how the Internet hacking scheme had been uncovered, Ansyad said it began with the arrest of a number of terrorist suspects in several provinces, including five people in Bali, one in Jakarta, four in Medan, two in Bandung, two in Surakarta and one in East Java, all of whom were arrested last month.
According to Ansyad, the suspects are part of a network of several small, affiliated groups.
“The terror network in Indonesia is an affiliation of several groups, including a group with members in both Cirebon and Surakarta called Hizbah. Most of its members have been captured but some have fled and joined a similar group in Medan,” he said.
In response to whether the suspected terrorists would be launching attacks in Indonesia, Ansyad said it was unlikely in the near future. “We don’t know their plans yet, but we must remain alert,” he said.
Scores of armed police personnel raided two upscale houses on Thursday in Medan’s Johor district, which are believed to be owned by members of the terrorist groups.
Johor district head, Azwarlin Nasution, said both houses were often left empty by their tenants. According to him, his office did not know the houses’ owners, but based on accounts by some of the neighbors in the district, both houses were occupied by people from Java.
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