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Bombing attempts foiled JAKARTA - Indonesian police have foiled fresh bombing attempts in Indonesia and the Philippines with the recent arrest of Jemaah Islamiyah's (JI) new leader Abu Rusdan, the country's chief detective revealed late Thursday.

Rusdan succeeded radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir as the spiritual leader of JI, a regional terrorist group responsible for the devastating Bali blast on October 12 that killed 202 people. Rusdan is alleged to have chaired several meetings which hatched plans to stage bomb attacks in Indonesia and the Philippines.
Rusdan told police the attacks were planned for Indonesia and the Philippines, Chief Detective Erwin Mappaseng said, but the suspect did not give specific details of the plans. "But clearly, with this (arrest), several plans for such activities and others could not be carried out. This is a good preventive effort," Mappaseng added.
Rusdan was arrested during a nationwide police swoop in April which netted 16 other suspected JI members. Of the 16, four are accused of making the bombs that were detonated in Bali in November, killing 202 people. Rusdan was recently named as a suspect in the Bali blast for knowing the whereabouts of the bombing suspects but failing to report the information to the police.
Rusdan, 43, became the supreme leader of JI when Abu Bakar Ba'asyir was arrested eight days after the Bali blast. Ba'asyir is currently on trial for plotting to overthrow the government and setting up an Islamic state. He faces a 20-year jail term if convicted of the treason charges. A Muslim cleric, Rusdan is believed to be more militant than Ba'asyir and was approached by the hardline faction of JI to replace Ba'asyir.
"Our information is that he (Rusdan) was more militant and the hardliners of JI had turned to him for leadership," Sidney Jones of the International Crisis Group (ICG) told CNN. Rusdan, also known as Thoriqqudin, is the son of a Darul Islam (House of Islam) fighter Mohamad Faleh.
Darul Islam waged a fierce armed insurgency in West Java against the central government from 1948-1962 in an attempt to establish an Islamic state. The insurgency tied down much of the country's military during that period. Rusdan is believed to have close links with JI's operations chief Hambali, who is wanted by several governments for his involvement in a string of bombings in southeast Asia -- including the Bali blast -- and plotting to attack U.S. targets across the region.
"Rusdan is controlled by Hambali," a senior intelligence source told CNN. Rusdan's arrest does not necessarily mean authorities are closing in on Hambali, the source said. "No. That would need joint effort and cooperation from intelligence and police forces across the region."
But the recent arrest has boosted the police's chances of hunting down other JI members still at large in the world's largest Muslim country. "Every arrest leads to new information, to new (JI) members. It suggests the police are making headway in going after the network. This is a serious blow to their organization," said ICG's Jones.



Posted in Terrorism @ 09 May 2003 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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