Bomb-maker is Indonesian national

Arrested terrorist bomb-maker Fathur Rohman Al-Ghozi, now under detention in the Philippines, is the son of a council member of Indonesia’s Muslim-based Crescent Star Party (PBB), it was confirmed here.

Mr Muhammad Zainuri, speaking from Madiun in East Java, told The Straits Times that his son left home at the age of 12, when he was placed in a “pesantran” or religious boarding school in Solo, Central Java.

“I was shocked when I read reports that he was arrested in the Philippines,” the 64-year- old politician said yesterday in a telephone interview.

“He is a good boy. As his parent, I don’t believe that he is capable of being a terrorist.”

He said he had not seen his son for the last 12 years and had no idea that he was linked to extremist elements.

Reports from Manila yesterday said Al-Ghozi might also be the main recruiter of Filipinos for Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network.

Indonesian police had previously cast doubt on assertions by their Philippine counterparts that Al-Ghozi, who was arrested in Manila on Jan 15, was an Indonesian national.

The 30-year-old bomb-maker, who had a string of aliases, including “Mike” and “Freedom Fighter”, has been sought by the authorities in Singapore in connection with the activities of the Jemaah Islamiah militant group.

He is also wanted in the Philippines for his role in a series of terrorist activities – notably the December 2000 bombings of a local commuter train station which killed 22 people.

Mr Muhammad said Al-Ghozi, the eldest of four children, was a shy person and kept to himself a lot when he was young.

“We rarely had any contact with him after he joined the pesantran. We would send him money once in a while and he would call us once a year to wish us well. But after he turned 18, we never saw him again,” he said, adding that Al-Ghozi could have left Indonesia for either Singapore or Canada during that time.

The Antara national news agency quoted Al-Ghozi’s mother, Madam Rukana, as saying that “I am sure that my son is not involved in anything”.

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