WASHINGTON – Fox News has learned that the Al Qaeda terrorist who provided the Bush administration with information that led to raising the terrorist threat alert to code orange (high risk) was one of Usama bin Laden's key operatives throughout Southeast Asia.
Omar Al Faruq, a Kuwaiti national in his 30s who also goes by the name of Mahmoud bin Ahmad Assegaf, was arrested June 5 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Government officials say Faruq trained at Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and was later put in charge of Southeast Asia by bin Laden's two top deputies: Ayman Al Zawahiri, regarded as bin Laden's second-in-command, and Mohammed Atef, Al Qaeda's former military chief who was killed by a U.S. bomb.
Sources say Faruq reported to Abu Zubaydah, who took over Al Qaeda operations when Atef was killed. When Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan earlier this year sources say documents were found related to Faruq.
Faruq also had the task of being a key link to a radical Muslim militia called "Laskar Jundullah," an Indonesia-based group of 2,000 fighters. Jundullah is blamed for killing 10,000 civilians since 1999 in bombings and other attacks throughout Southeast Asia.
Sources say phone records indicate Faruq was in constant touch with that militia's leader, a terrorist named Agus Dwikarna. Dwikarna was captured in the Philippines and imprisoned in March when he was found with explosives destined for terror cells in Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore.
Attorney General Ashcroft noted that since January of this year, terrorist cells in Southeast Asia have amassed hundreds of pounds of bomb-making materials. Sources say that information came directly from Faruq and was corroborated through other intelligence sources and methods.
The U.S. publicly acknowledged Faruq's capture on June 27.
At the time the Bush administration cited his arrest by Indonesian officials as one of the signs that the Muslim nation was cooperating with the war on terror and therefore deserved military and financial assistance to continue those efforts.
Government officials also say Faruq had ties to at least two Al Qaeda cells broken up earlier this year in Spain. He also raised money for Al Qaeda, seeking donations to Islamic charity front organizations in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Sources say the U.S. got access to Faruq shortly after his capture. It is unclear where he is being detained. Government officials dispute CNN's report that Faruq is at Guantanamo, telling Fox News that Faruq is not in Indonesia, Malaysia or the Philippines.