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Indonesia arrests top terrorism fugitive

June 13, 2007|Paul Watson | Times Staff Writer

JAKARTA, INDONESIA — The suspected military commander of Indonesia's most feared terrorist group has been captured, dealing another blow to Al Qaeda's main ally in Southeast Asia, police said here today.

Abu Dujana, wanted in connection with at least two bombings in Jakarta, was arrested by a special anti-terrorism unit Saturday on the central Indonesian island of Java, a police spokesman said at a news conference. Seven other terrorism suspects also were rounded up.

Indonesian authorities believe Abu Dujana took command of terrorism operations for Jemaah Islamiah, an Al Qaeda affiliate active in several Southeast Asian countries, after the 2003 capture of Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali, in central Thailand.

Hambali is accused of setting up a meeting in Malaysia between two of the Sept. 11 hijackers and other Al Qaeda members. He was transferred to U.S. military custody at Guantanamo Bay.

Like Hambali, Abu Dujana is a veteran of the mujahedin guerrilla war against Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Abu Dujana was secretary to Jemaah Islamiah's alleged spiritual leader, Abu Bakar Bashir, who was convicted on terrorism charges by an Indonesian court in 2005. He was released from prison a year ago and denies any involvement in terrorism.

Jemaah Islamiah says it is fighting to turn much of Southeast Asia into an Islamic state.

Its most devastating attack was the 2002 suicide bombings on the resort island of Bali that killed 202 people, most of them Australian tourists.

Abu Dujana is suspected of plotting the bombing that killed 12 people at the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, the following year. He also is believed to be behind the 2004 Australian Embassy bombing that killed 10, also in Jakarta.

Indonesia's anti-terrorism police have been closing in on Abu Dujana for months. In March, the trail heated up after a shootout with men on two motorcycles north of the city of Yogyakarta.

Police caught four men, one of whom was wounded. A fifth was killed, reportedly by a shot to the chest. The arrests led to a raid on a home shared by a farm laborer and the head of a local mosque, which allegedly contained a cache of bullets, grenades, explosives and detonators.

On Monday, police said they had foiled a major bomb plot with weekend raids in Yogyakarta and elsewhere in central Java. An aide to Abu Dujana was said to be among several people arrested. Police did not disclose the target of the alleged bomb plot.

After a tip from close friends of Abu Dujana, police raided the village of Kabarongan in central Java on Saturday, said police spokesman Sisno Adiwinoto.

During that operation, officers shot a man in the leg as he tried to escape on a motorcycle. He initially was identified as Yusrun Mahmudi, 37, Adiwinoto said. But after a few days of what the spokesman called "crime-scene processing," police realized Tuesday night that the wounded man was Abu Dujana, who uses several aliases.

Calling Abu Dujana "the top priority" for Indonesian police, the spokesman said the suspect is believed to be the secretary of Jemaah Islamiah's central board, and leader of the organization's military wing.

"He is the field commander, the strategy expert," Adiwinoto said.


Times staff writer Dinda Jouhana contributed to this report.

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