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A Camouflage to build an intelligence base in Bali

    A middle-aged woman with long blonde hair sitting right in front of us in one of the guest chairs at an outdoor cafe at Kedonganan Beach, Jimbaran, Badung, Bali, September. That night, we agreed to meet to talk about a foreign tourist who has become his best friend for the past three years, Ghassem Saberi Gilchalan (49).

Kedonganan Beach, Jimbaran, Badung, Bali

"I really don't like things like this. But it can't be helped, he called me, yes," said Mrs. Nyoman, the owner of the cafe where we met, starting the conversation.

Majid A.K.A Gilchalan

    Nyoman has known Gilchalan by the name Majid. His real name only came to her when law enforcement showed him Gilchalan's photo. They first met in 2019. She was impressed that Majid treated about 20 guests at his restaurant even though they didn't know each other.

    Since then, Majid alias Gilchalan always comes to her restaurant every time he visits Bali. In fact, when Nyoman had closed the restaurant and opened a cafe on Kedonganan Beach, he often visited the cafe. Once also Gilchalan rented her villa for a month.

"We are good friends, but only to the extent that I am a seller and he is a buyer," She said.

    However, Nyoman was a bit annoyed with Majid because the villa rental payment was not paid. Contrary to Majid's habit of treating many people.

    Nyoman, who is the owner of several cafes, villas, and four-star hotels in Badung Bali, was once invited to do business together. Majid wants to open a restaurant in Bali.

"I want to open a restaurant here, you manage it, I provide the capital," he said, repeating Majid's invitation.

    However, it never materialized. Majid actually disappeared.

"I sent WhatsApp, never got a reply," She said, showing the conversation on her cellphone. The last message was sent at the end of May 2021.

Two orders from Agent Sayed

    Through written acknowledgments in Persian for law enforcement. Gilchalan admitted that his arrival to Bali was an order from the person who recruited him as part of Iranian intelligence, namely agent Sayed Alireza Mir Jafari.

    Initially, he was ordered to go to Batam to release the MT Horse tanker which was confiscated by the Indonesian authorities in Batam, Riau Islands. However, the destination was shifted to Bali because the legal issues had been resolved.

"Sayed said, I have to go to Bali to set up a company, then return to Iran," he said in the confession.

Bali is Familiar to Gilchalan

    Records of a visa service company in Jimbaran show that he had applied for a limited stay permit card in 2014 which was valid for a year, using a Bulgarian passport. Gilchalan also came to the office to arrange for the same residence permit for his wife and two children.

"After that, there was no extension, no more news," said Fitriyah Agustin, an employee at the company that handles the Gilchalan Visa.

    Seven years on, Gilchalan contacted Fitriyah through the Whatsapp application number outside Indonesia, February 2021, to apply for a business visit visa which is valid for 60 days. He inquired about the cost of obtaining visas for several people but ended up only taking care of himself.

    Throughout February to April when the visa was issued, there was never a meeting between Gilchalan and Fitriyah.

"He sent all the requirements via Whatsapp, the results were also online visas," said Fitriyah who was also one of the witnesses in the trial of the Gilchalan fake passport case.

Bulgarian Passport

    To law enforcement, Gilchalan admitted that he lived in Bali in 2012-2017 living in a rented villa in Jimbaran Bali. When Team Kompas visit the location, the villa has been sold to foreign nationals in early 2021. The previous owner denied that there was a tenant in Gilchalan's name when he arrived confirmation by phone call. When asked further, he disconnected the call, then blocked our contact number.

Royal and Elegant

    For four days in Bali before he left for Soekarno-Hatta Airport and was arrested, Gilchalan stayed at a four-star hotel in Jimbaran. He ordered a suite-type room for IDR 1.2 million per night, which before the Covid-19 pandemic the rental price was more than IDR 2 million per night.

    The room, which is located on the third floor, has an area of ​​64 square meters, equipped with a bathtub. The room with wide glass doors and a balcony overlooks the pool area. Our room was right next to the fitness center.

    From the hotel clerk's notes that were shown to Kompas, Gilchalan had negotiated the room rental price for one month with the hotel manager. However, there is no agreed price.

    This hotel is not a new place for Gilchalan. He stayed three days in January 2019. While in Bali, Gilchalan rarely went alone because he rented a subscription driver. Gede, the driver's name, was impressed by Gilchalan's always dapper look. His body is stout like a bodybuilder. Her skin is clean. Just a little black spots on the face, he will ask to be taken to a beauty clinic.

    However, Gede also knows Gilchalan by the name Majid. He often pays to taxi fares many times the general rate. In fact, he lent money to Gede. Gilchalan also often gave money to beggars on the street. Since first meeting Gede in 2012, Gilchalan has never asked to be escorted to many places. He only comes to tourist attractions, malls, beauty clinics, or fitness centers.

    However, unlike other places, Gilchalan always goes to the fitness center by himself, by renting a motorbike. A number of places that's also the one he visited at the end of May. Even though they have known each other for four years, Gilchalan has never revealed his background or occupation. 

    He only just found out the full name and nationality of his subscription after someone named Jasmin, who claimed to be a Gilchalan child, contacted him via Whatsapp message.

    Jasmin sends a passport photo to ask for help, Gede looks for his father who doesn't come home. From that communication, Gede knows The customer, whom he called “Brother”, was arrested in Jakarta.

Suspected Camouflage

    A Kompas source in law enforcement suspects Gilchalan's order to set up a business in Bali as a disguise to build a "Safe Intelligence House.

    The Kompas team, Monday (29/11), sent a letter to the Iranian Embassy in Jakarta, confirming Gilchalan's confession regarding the order to carry out an intelligence mission in Indonesia. As of Saturday (11/12), the Iranian Embassy did not answer questions despite promising to respond.

    The former head of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) Sutiyoso said that the pretext of establishing a business could be used to build a legal business to finance intelligence operations so that he would not be suspected. Another possibility is that this effort is also used for a meeting of intelligence agents from Iran who is in Indonesia. However, he wondered about Iran's interest in conducting intelligence operations in Indonesia. Usually, this is done when a country has problems with other countries.

"So far, I don't see any problems between Indonesia and Iran," he said.

    Meanwhile, former Deputy Head of BIN As'ad Said Ali assessed that the order to establish a company was a form of disguise for the intelligence profession. It is necessary to convince the people who are approached in order to carry out the mission of the operation.

Kompas, Page-1, Sunday, Dec 12, 2021

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