The Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah has suffered another blow. A captured member has admitted that he was the financier behind one of the group's most important training camps and has started naming the trainees.
Taufik Rifki was arrested in the southern Philippines earlier this month. He is admitting he was the treasurer who disbursed funds for the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, or JI, training camp in the area and is giving police the names of more than a dozen men who underwent training there.
JI is linked to al-Qaida and is believed to operate with a similar cell-like structure, which limits the damage any one member can do if captured and persuaded to talk. But the arrest of Taufik Rifki could be a gold mine for investigators because he could name a whole generation of JI recruits who passed through his camp.
Investigators say Jemaah Islamiyah is behind a string of attacks across Southeast Asia, including the Bali bomb that killed more than 200 people. They allege the group laid unsuccessful plans to hit U.S. targets in Singapore and Malaysia.
The group once attended training camps in Afghanistan, but those were closed in the 1990s. Since then, most training has been done in the southern provinces of the Philippines, where militants that are part of a long-running Muslim separatist insurgency share many JI ideals.
More than 200 suspected members of JI have been arrested in Asia in the past two years, but experts say the group is showing unexpected resilience.
JI is believed to have an extensive network of supporters who hide and assist active members. Three of the region's most wanted men, JI 's military leader Zulkarnaen, bomb maker Dr. Azahari Husin, and financier Nurdin Mohammed Top, have evaded arrest for more than a year in spite of a massive manhunt by Indonesian police.
Despite notable successes, police throughout the region are warning that JI is planning more attacks and few observers believe the group will be beaten soon.