- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 28, 2003

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Jan. 28 (UPI) — Indonesian authorities Tuesday linked the alleged spiritual leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah militant group to the bombings last October in Bali in which some 200 people were killed.

National police chief Gen. Dai Bachtiar said suspects in the Bali bombings implicated Abu Bakar Baasyir, 64, in the plot. They claim the cleric met with them before and after the incident, he said.

Bachtiar told a parliamentary hearing Tuesday that last February Baasyir met with people in Bangkok, Thailand, to plan attacks on the interests of the United States and its allies in Indonesia and Singapore.

Baasyir has been detained by police in Jakarta, accused of treason in connection with the countrywide church bombings in 2000 and for involvement in an assassination plot against President Megawati Sukarnoputri. However, he has not been linked with the Bali bombings.

Investigators have said the Bangkok meeting was also attended by Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, believed to be the former operational chief of JI.

Bachtiar also said the suspects, who were arrested in neighboring Malaysia, had revealed Baasyir's involvement in JI, which is regarded as a terrorist group by several nations.

He said authorities had also launched a manhunt against Joko Pitono, alias Dulmatin, who is suspected of assembling the bombs used in the Bali blasts and in a series of nationwide attacks on churches in 2002.

"We are eager to immediately capture him," he said. "We have put Dulmatin on our list of prime targets."

Dulmatin is among at least 10 suspects in the Bali bombings still at large and believed to be in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, chief of the anti-terrorism coordinating desk, Inspector Gen. Ansaad Bay, accused JI of being behind the series of bombings in the country, including the Bali bombings on Oct. 12 that left nearly 200 people dead, mainly tourists.

"Jemaah Islamiyah has been behind them all," he said. "The fact is clear that JI was behind the terror actions in the country so far."

Police have arrested at least 17 people, including several key suspects — Amrozi, his elder brother, Mukhlas, alias Ali Gufron, Amrozi's younger brother, Ali Imron, and Imam Samudra alias Abdul Azis — in connection with the Bali bombings. Police said they are members of JI.

Bachtiar also revealed that the $35,000 used to finance the Bali bombings came from Hambali and the money was given to Mukhlas by a Malaysian national, Wan Win Wan Mat, JI's alleged treasurer.

Western countries, including the United States, have linked JI, which aims to set up a pan-Islamic state in Southeast Asia, to Osama bin Laden's al Qaida network.

Last week, the U.S.-based Time magazine reported that Mukhlas, who has confessed to involvement in the Bali bombings, had said there was a strong possibility that Hambali obtained the money for the attacks from bin Laden. However, Indonesian officials have said they have not found any evidence linking bin Laden or al Qaida to the blasts.


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