Friday, August 7, 2009

Five facts about Islamic militant Noordin Top

-- Top, a key recruiter, strategist and financier for militant Muslim group Jemaah Islamiah (JI) has been on the run for years, eluding capture on several occasions. Some mystical Javanese believe that Top must possess magic powers or charms that protect him. Police put it down to his reluctance to use easily-tracked mobile phones and his reliance on a close network of sympathizers who guard his whereabouts and act as his couriers when he needs to send messages to his cells.

-- He is said to have planned the bomb attacks on the JW Marriott in Jakarta in 2003, on the Australian embassy in Jakarta in 2004, and in Bali in 2005 -- attacks designed to scare off foreign tourists and businesses so that militant Muslim group Jemaah Islamiah (JI) could create a caliphate across Southeast Asia.

- Top, 40, was born in Johor, southern Malaysia, and completed a bachelor of science at the University of Technology, Malaysia in 1991. He was a close ally of Azahari Husin, a Malaysian bomb-maker, who was killed during a police raid in 2005 in East Java. He is thought to have escaped a raid in Central Java in 2006 when two other alleged militants were killed.

- He is among the most-wanted of JI's members, with a bounty of 1 billion rupiah ($101,100) for anyone who can catch him dead or alive. He is widely believed to favor using bombs against Western targets, even if Indonesians and Muslims end up as collateral damage. His disagreement with other JI members over the use of violence eventually led him to form a far more violent splinter group in 2003, recruiting and training new members from other organizations for future operations.

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  1. Indonesian Police Kill 2 Suspected Militants Outside Jakarta, Find 500 kg of Bombs

    Indonesian police have killed two suspected Islamic militants and seized up to 500 kg of bombs after a raid on a house in the Bekasi area near the capital Jakarta, police spokesman Nanan Soekarna said on Saturday.

    Elsewhere on the main island of Java, anti-terror officers slowly encircled a house where they said between three and four other militants were holed up.

    Soekarna also said that police had identified the two suicide bombers -- a 19-year-old man and 28-year-old man -- who carried out deadly attacks on two luxury hotels in the capital Jakarta last month.

    Local media reported that one of the men inside that property was believed to be Southeast Asia's most wanted terrorist, Noordin M Top.

    Police chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri said two suspected militants were killed and three were arrested in the dawn raid on Saturday. He said officers seized explosives and a car bomb that was intended for "a specific target" but gave no more details.

    Noordin is suspected in all of Indonesia's major terror attacks, including suicide bombings at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels last month and blasts on the resort island of Bali in 2002.The hotel bombings killed nine and broke a four-year gap in terror strikes in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation.

    The raid took place as police in Central Java province surrounded a home and exchanged gunfire with militants loyal to alleged terror leader Noordin Mohammad Top.