The international dragnet is now turning up new evidence of Asian
links to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization, underscoring the
breadth of his operations.
* A captured Philippine rebel leader on Monday named Mr. bin
Laden as a financier of Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim fundamentalist group.
The Abu Sayyaf has been holding a US missionary couple and 16
Filipinos hostage for several months.
* Muslim Malaysia pledged cooperation in fighting terrorism as it
came under scrutiny over a report that one of the hijack suspects
in the airliner that hit the Pentagon had been caught on a
surveillance tape in Kuala Lumpur, meeting a man linked to bin
* About a dozen followers of bin Laden, suspected of having
masterminded last week's devastating attacks on New York and
Washington, may have entered Japan from Pakistan just days before
* Days before the Sept. 11 plane-hijacking assaults, police in
the Philippines took three men "of Middle Eastern origin" in for
questioning, after they were found videotaping the US Embassy in
Bin Laden's long-standing ties to Islamic fundamentalist and
separatist groups in countries including Indonesia, the
Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore are bringing the global
investigation into last week's grand-scale terrorism into the heart
of Southeast Asia.
In a developing region where many trouble spots are defined - at
least in part - by Muslim-Christian tensions, Muslim resentment of
domination by pro-Western governments, and political or territorial
secessionism beneath the banner of Islam, several Southeast Asian
groups have in the past been open about their connections, at the
least, with the same ideological and territorial ground as bin
From the Abu Sayyaf ("master of the sword") extremists in the
southern Philippines to the Laskar Jihad in Indonesia, the leaders
of several of the region's Islamic militias received training in
Afghanistan, as mujahideen fighting Soviet occupation forces in the
All of Asia's leaders - including reclusive North Korea -
condemned the massive loss of life in Tuesday's attacks. But the
leaders of countries with large Muslim populations, such as
Indonesia and Malaysia, appear to be shying away from support for
massive military retaliation. Even pro-American Thailand warned
yesterday that the US should not "jump the gun" on its response,
until investigators can ascertain who is responsible.
Meanwhile, the ripple effects of last week's harrowing assaults
are being felt across Asia, where US citizens and military
personnel are on high alert amid continuing fears of follow-up or
reprisal attacks. In Macau, a Portuguese-ruled enclave that
reverted to Chinese control in 1999, government officials have
arrested five Pakistani nationals. They reportedly
had, in their luggage, instructions to hit American targets in
Macau and Hong Kong if US forces launch attacks on Afghanistan.
The US consulate in Hong Kong, which has jurisdiction over Macau,
closed indefinitely yesterday. No officials could be reached to
confirm whether those detained were linked to bin Laden.
But seemingly few goings-on in Asia at the moment are not. In
Tokyo, securities officials are investigating reports, which
surfaced on Friday, that investors working on behalf of bin Laden
engaged in massive short-selling of stocks and futures contracts
before the attack. Such trades could have brought huge profits.
Political experts and security officials say that while it would
be wrong to try to link every Muslim militant group in the region
with bin Laden, it would be equally foolish to overlook the
likelihood that he has given more to this part of the world than
religious inspiration. …