- The Washington Times - Monday, October 3, 2005

BALI, Indonesia — Investigators hunted yesterday for two persons suspected of masterminding the weekend suicide bombings on this resort island as Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia and other nations went on high alert to protect their beaches from a repeat of the attacks.

Newspapers published photographs of the three bombers’ severed heads, evidence that investigators hope will lead them to the two Malaysians thought to have plotted the Saturday attacks at crowded restaurants that killed at least 22 persons and wounded 104, including six Americans. Official death counts have varied.

“It is our hope that people will recognize the faces and call us,” police Brig. Gen. Sunarko Dami Artanto told reporters as he released two hot line numbers. “It will help us speed up the investigation.”

The men suspected of directing the attacks — Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Mohamed Top — are thought to be key figures in Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional Islamic militant group with links to al Qaeda. Jemaah Islamiyah is blamed for the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 persons, mostly foreigners.

Azahari is known as “Demolition Man” for his knowledge of explosives, while Noordin has been dubbed “Moneyman” for his ability to raise money and recruit bombers.

Police also sought three accomplices still thought to be on the island.

The bombings occurred as Southeast Asia geared up for its major tourist season, when millions of Europeans and other foreigners flock to sunny beaches to escape the winter months.

Indonesia’s security level was raised to “top alert” after the attacks, with two-thirds of the vast archipelago’s 300,000 police on standby, said national police spokesman Maj. Gen. Anang Budihardjo.

Security was increased around embassies and ambassadors’ residences in the capital, Jakarta, and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered the city’s 11 million residents to re-register with authorities. Mr. Yudhoyono has warned that terrorists could be planning more strikes in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra ordered plainclothes security officials to popular tourist spots, warning that terrorists were “commuting and rotating around in the region.”

“They have close connections and links. Their linkages come from relatives, friends, and they used to go to the same schools,” said Mr. Thaksin, who usually downplays the terror threat to tourism.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer of Australia, whose citizens were among those killed in Bali during the weekend as well as in the 2002 attacks, warned that the risk of further attacks was “always … significant.”

The Philippines placed its 115,000-strong police force on heightened alert and said it would intensify intelligence gathering, while Malaysia tightened border security to prevent the two suspects from returning home.

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