´A Top Leader´ of Group Suspected in Bali Bombing Is Arrested (LA TIMES) By Tyler Marshall and Sari Sudarsono JAKARTA, Indonesia 12/05/02)
LOS ANGELES TIMES
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JAKARTA, Indonesia -- The suspected operations chief of the shadowy
Southeast Asian terrorist network that is believed to have carried
out the deadly Bali bombing in October has been arrested in central
Java, police said Wednesday.
Ali Gufron, 42, also known as Mukhlas, was seized from a supposed
safe house in the town of Solo shortly before midnight Tuesday along
with his wife and six other people, authorities said. All of those
detained are believed to have links to the Jemaah Islamiah terrorist
Answering media questions here in the Indonesian capital late
Wednesday, the national chief of detectives, Erwin Mappaseng, said
Gufron had been wanted in connection with a series of terrorist
bombings in the region, including the Oct. 12 attack that killed 191
people -- most of them foreigners -- on the idyllic tourist island of
Bali. Gufron had also been sought by authorities for terror-related
activities in Malaysia and Singapore.
"He is a top leader," Mappaseng told reporters.
A Belgian-made rifle, 12 rounds of ammunition and what police
called "some documents about jihad" were also seized, according to
Gufron´s arrest marks the latest in a series of blows to the
terrorist group in the wake of the Bali attack. In recent weeks,
police have arrested the suspected ringleader of the bombing plot and
a key accomplice whose explosives-laden car was detonated outside one
of the nightclubs hit in the attack. Both have confessed involvement
in the bombing.
The accomplice, known as Amrozi, is Gufron´s younger brother. Two
other Gufron brothers are also wanted by police, one of them as the
possible triggerman who detonated a car bomb used in the attack.
At a news conference last week, a senior police officer named Gufron
as the man authorities believed had assumed operational control of
Jemaah Islamiah shortly after the Bali attack.
The militant group, which has been active in Malaysia, Singapore and
the Philippines as well as Indonesia, nurtures the vision of carving
an independent Muslim caliphate out of Southeast Asia. One of its top
leaders, a cleric named Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali, is
considered the most widely sought terrorist in the Southeast Asian
region. He is said to maintain close ties with other terrorist groups
in the region and with Osama bin Laden´s Al Qaeda network.
Police believe Hambali has gone into hiding in recent weeks and
relinquished operational control of the organization to
Gufron. "After Hambali escaped, Mukhlas took over his position,"
Mappaseng said, using Gufron´s alias.
Gufron was born in the eastern Javan village of Tenggulun, was
educated in Islamic schools and -- like many militant Muslims in the
region -- learned how to use weapons while fighting the Soviets in
Afghanistan in the 1980s. He was known to teach a radical brand of
Islam and instilled those views in others, including his younger
brothers, police said. Marshall reported from Hong Kong and Sudarsono
from Jakarta. (Copyright 2002 Los Angeles Times 12/05/02)
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