Malaysian wife of Bali blast suspect held

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 16 Feb 2003


KUALA LUMPUR: Indonesian police have arrested the Malaysian wife of Muchlas @ Ali Ghuffron, who is one of the three Indonesian terrorists facing charges of being involved in the Bali bombings that killed over 200 people. 

Faridah Abbas, 34, who has five children and is now five-month pregnant, was arrested for over-staying in Indonesia. 

“She was arrested for violating immigration procedures and faces possible deportation,” a source said. 

Faridah, who is being assisted by Indonesian and Malaysian officials on humanitarian grounds now, is staying in Tulung, Klaten, Central Java. 

“Three of her children have moved to Lamongan, also in Central Java, to stay with her father-in-law,” the source added. 

Police and immigration officials said Faridah wore a black burqa, like those worn by Afghan women when they met her. 

She was also accompanied by eight lawyers at the meeting and had initially refused to have her photograph taken by the officials. 

She finally agreed to have a photograph of her face taken without her veil on after one of the lawyers persuaded her to do so. 

An official said they needed to take the photograph to verify her identity.  

Beside Muchlas, Amrozi and Imam Samudra are facing charges of the bombing in Bali which killed over 200 people in Oct 12. 

Last week, Amrozi @ Ali Imron – the young brother of Muchlas – admitted building the bombs for the Bali blast and said he was sorry for the victims. 

He had said the bomb was assembled by a Malaysian called Azahari, who is being sought by the police. 

According to intelligence sources, Muchlas met Faridah while he was studying at the Luqmanul Hakiem religious school in Ulu Tiram, Johor. 

The school, operated by Jemaah Islamiah (JI) founders Abu Bakar Ba’asyir and Abdullah Sungkar, has been closed down by the authorities. 

“She was a teacher there while her father was the canteen operator,” an Indonesian source said. 

Hambali, the mastermind of JI and the regional operations leader of Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda, also has a Malaysian wife Noralwizah Lee, a Sabah-born Chinese. 

He met her at the religious school in Sabah that is also said to be linked to the JI. 

The school in Johor, where Amrozi also attended, has produced several Islamic radicals, linked to JI and Kumpulan Militan Malaysia, who are now on the run. 

Its board of directors included six university lecturers wanted by police including Nordin Mohd Top, a Universiti Teknologi Malaysia graduate, who is also implicated in the Bali bombings. 

Muchlas, 41, is said to have replaced Hambali as JI mastermind and new point man for Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia before his arrest on Dec 3. 

“We believe he has met Osama personally who funded JI operations across the region,” one official said. 

Imam, 32, is also implicated in a series of church bombings in December 2000 and had arms training in Afghanistan in 1980 and was arrested on Nov 21, 2002. 

Intelligence sources said Faridah was depending on neighbours and relatives to take care of her five children, all born in Johor. 

“According to reports, Muchlas has investments in a fish pond and a banana plantation, so financially she is quite alright,” one source revealed, adding that Muchlas also brought cloth and honey to sell in Malaysia.  

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