Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mastermind of 2002 Bali Bombing Still Alive

Philippine military authorities said they believe Indonesian national Dulmatin, leader of the regional militant group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), was not killed in a clash two years ago and he is still hiding in the country's southern jungles. Dulmatin is tagged as the co-mastermind of the 2002 bombing in Indonesian resort island of Bali, killing more than 200 people.

Dulmatin is in Sulu province, a stronghold of the al Qaeda-linked local militant group Abu Sayyaf. Another fugitive JI bomber, Omar Patek, is also under Abu Sayyaf's protection.

The US government has offered $11 million in reward for information leading to the arrest of the two.

It is the first time in two years the Philippine military admitted that Dulmatin was still alive. Officials claimed Dulmatin was shot dead in a military offensive in Tawi-Tawi province in February 2008 but a US-sponsored DNA test failed to confirm the fugitive JI leader was among the slain.

Patek and Dulmatin, who fled to the Philippines after being tagged as prime suspects in 2002 Bali bombing, have involved in training Filipino militants and were behind a number of local bomb attacks. Security observers said there are around 40 JI militants in the Philippines. They provided terrorist trainings to local militant groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf, in exchange for the shelter and protection they received.

Founded in 1993, the Indonesia-based JI is blamed for staging a series of deadly terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia. In the latest incident, Noordin Mohammad Top, a break-away JI bomber, bombed JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Hotels in Jakarta, killing seven people and wounding 50 others. Top was killed in a police raid to his hide-out on Java island in September 2009.

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