Stevani Wijaya & Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – The National Police on Thursday charged controversial Muslim cleric Panji Gumilang under the anti-money laundering law over allegations of raising funds using many aliases on behalf of his foundations.
Panji is currently being detained in the West Java town of Indramayu after he was named a blasphemy suspect, following reports that his Islamic schools taught students against basic Islamic teachings and promoted an alternative interpretation of the Quran.
A separate investigation into fundraising activities and financial management in his foundation has been concluded with police claiming to have found evidence of misappropriations and embezzlement.
Panji has used at least five different identities and ID cards to open bank accounts to receive Muslim donations and the government's financial assistance for education, said Brig. Gen. Whisnu Hermawan, director of the National Police's special crime division.
"We have launched inquiries into the five identities and related bank accounts and found thousands of transactions," Whisnu told a news conference at the police headquarters in South Jakarta.
In addition to his birth name, Panji has also used four different identities to conduct financial transactions including Abdurrahman Rasyid Panji Gumilang, Abu Totok, Abu Ma'arif, and Syamsu Alam, the officer said.
Whisnu didn't go into details about the amount of money involved in the alleged crime, citing the ongoing investigation.
The elderly cleric could face additional charges of document forgery but Whisnu said his team is currently focusing on the money laundering case.
Panji, the founder and leader of Al Zaytun Islamic Boarding School and foundation, was named a blasphemy suspect and arrested on August 1.
The blasphemy investigation centers around allegations that the boarding school in the West Java town of Indramayu allows men and women to pray together in the same row during Eid al-Fitr and permits a woman to serve as an Imam during congregational prayers.
Panji also reportedly made a controversial statement claiming that the Quran was "invented by Prophet Mohammad."
The 77-year-old has previously been associated with a movement to establish an Islamic state in Indonesia.
A former longstanding employee of Al Zaytun has come forward to assert that the group is closely associated with a broader separatist movement known as the Islamic State of Indonesia, or NII.
The NII is a homegrown movement with a decades-long history to differentiate it from the international militant organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The revelation connecting Al Zaytun with the NII was brought to light by Heru Kismanto, who claims to have served within Al Zaytun for 12 years.
Heru said in August that Al Zaytun functions as the headquarters of the NII, with all its employees being inducted as members of the separatist movement.
"The induction ceremony took place in Jakarta. Individuals assigned to work at Al Zaytun were carefully chosen, required to pledge allegiance [to the NII], making every single employee a member of the NII," Heru said.
"The NII required its members to pledge allegiance, misinterpret the Quran, and even allowed theft from non-members," he stated, revealing his own involvement in the theft of a donation box and audio system from a mosque in Tebet, South Jakarta, which were later handed over to the movement.