Indonesia captures "Emir" of regional terrorist network (Roundup)
Jun 15, 2007, 10:11 GMT
Jakarta - Indonesian police announced Friday the capture of the top leader of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the second major arrest of a senior member of the al Qaeda-linked terrorist network responsible for bombing Western targets across the country.
The arrest of Zarkasih, who is believed to be JI's 'Emir,' occurred last Saturday afternoon in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta, just hours after counter-terrorism police nabbed Abu Dujana, a senior military commander, in Banyumas, also in Central Java.
Brigadier General Suryadarma Salim, commander of the Indonesian National Police Anti-Terrorism Task Force, told a press conference that Zarkasih, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, controlled all JI operations across the country.
Although the arrest of Zarkasih and Dujana were hailed as major successes in fighting the South-East Asian terrorist network, Salim noted that JI was 'still building a network by recruiting, training, and collecting explosives and materials.'
JI militants are blamed for a string of spectacular attacks across Indonesia that have killed hundreds of foreigners and locals, including multiple church bombings on Christmas Eve 2000; bombings on the resort island of Bali in 2002 and 2005; the JW Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta in 2003; and the Australian Embassy bombing in 2004.
Police did not reveal how they captured Zarkasih, or whether it was based on information they gleaned from Dujana, who was shot in the leg while trying to escape capture, or six other Islamic militants nabbed during weekend raids in Central and East Java provinces.
Salim told reporters that Zarkasih had received military training in 1987 at a JI 'academy' in Pakistan and later ran a training camp in the southern Philippines.
Dujana reportedly received training at a mujahedin camp in Pakistan in 1986. He also fought in Afghanistan with Hambali, alias Ridwan Isamuddin, a senior member of both JI and al-Qaeda who was arrested in northern Thailand in 2003 and is currently in US custody.
Dujana, who is believed to have played a major role in both Bali attacks and the embassy blast, was believed to control JI's ammunition and explosives, and is accused of providing them to militants involved in sectarian violence in Poso in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province.
Sidney Jones, a JI expert and regional director of the International Crisis Group in Jakarta, said Zarkasih was not believed to have played a role in the bombing campaign but did oversea JI operations in Poso and also assigned militants to specific jobs.
'This is great because they've got the Number 1 leader, (and also) having Number 2 means it's dealt the organization a serious blow at the senior level,' she told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
The Indonesian government, after initially being in denial about its terrorism problem, has made tremendous strides against JI since the 2002 Bali bombings. Authorities have arrested more than 300 suspects and convicted more than 70 of them.
The latest arrests stem from the capture of seven terrorism suspects in March during raids in Central and East Java provinces. They were believed to have provided information to police that lead to last weekend's raids, Jones said.
Police are still on a nation-wide manhunt for Malaysian bomb-maker Noordin M Top, who leads a breakaway faction of JI and is believed to be the masterminded of all the bombings since 2000.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur