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Jakarta bombings mastermind Noordin Top is dead: Police

One of Southeast Asia’s most wanted terrorists,a fugitive Islamist leader held responsible for organising the deadliest attacks in Indonesia....

Written by New York Times | Jakarta |
September 18, 2009 12:51:12 pm

One of Southeast Asia’s most wanted terrorists,a fugitive Islamist leader held responsible for organising the deadliest attacks in Indonesia,was killed during a six-hour shootout in central Java early on Thursday,the Indonesian police said.

The police said four men had been killed in the shootout,and a fingerprint match showed one was the wanted man,Noordin Muhammad Top,41. They said DNA testing was under way for final confirmation.

“We are sure Noordin M Top has been killed,” the national police chief,Bambang Hendarso Danuri,said at a news conference. “In this holy month of Ramzan,the country of Indonesia has been blessed.”

Top was suspected of organising attacks in 2003 and 2004 on the JW Marriott Hotel and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta; suicide bombings in Bali in 2005,which killed more than 20; and suicide bombings in July on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta,which killed seven people,six of them foreigners.

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Police and security forces had been searching for Noordin for nearly 10 years. The raid on the house,in the town of Solo,began late on Wednesday,the police said,after two suspects who had just been arrested told them where to find several terrorists. The police did not know beforehand if Noordin was among them.

The police said that about four hours into the assault,there was a large explosion inside the house,possibly a suicide bomb,which may have killed four men who were killed. Three people who survived were arrested.

Sorting through the leveled house,the police said they found 440 pounds of explosives,an M-16 machine gun with bullets,a laptop computer and documents. Danuri said those documents revealed connections between Indonesian militant groups and al-Qaeda,but he did not elaborate. He also said that one of the dead men was Bagus Budi Pranoto,another suspect in the July hotel bombings.

The two other men killed were Adib Susilo,who owned the house,and a man named Aji,who the police said was a protégé of Azahari Husin,a master bombmaker from Malaysia.

The police said they were minutes away from catching him on several occasions,including in August,when they thought they had trapped Noordin in a farmhouse in central Java. After a 16-hour firefight,however,the police recovered only one body,and it was that of Ibrohim,an Indonesian militant who helped carry out the July attacks under Noordin’s tutelage.

Noordin was a senior leader and fund-raiser with terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah. He broke away from the group in 2002,when support for violent attacks was waning among members of Jemaah Islamiah.

In a video in 2005 he claimed to be al-Qaeda’s representative in Southeast Asia,calling himself “al-Qaeda for the Malay archipelago”.

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