Manhunt on for 10 Bali blast suspects

Confessions of a key suspect could speed up their capture. Probe also finds links between bombing and Al-Qaeda, JI allies.

A NATIONWIDE manhunt is on in Indonesia for up to 10 people wanted for the Bali bombings, following the confessions of a key suspect in the terrorist attack.

The arrest this week of Amrozi, a 30-year-old part-time mechanic, was a major breakthrough that Indonesian police believe could speed up the capture of his accomplices.

Major-General I Made Mangku Pastika, who heads the international investigation into the Oct 12 bombing, said yesterday that the detainee had led police to a Bali residence where a forensic unit found residues of the explosives used in the bombs.

Speaking on the sidelines of an anti-terrorism conference in Manila, he said Amrozi had admitted helping to build the 50-kgbomb planted in his minivan that killed 191 people.

According to officials in Jakarta, Amrozi had also confessed to taking part in the bomb attack on the Jakarta Stock Exchange that killed 15 people in 2000, the bombing of the Philippine ambassador’s residence in Jakarta in 2000, and another bomb attack on the Philippines consulate in North Sulawesi on Oct 12.

According to Maj-Gen Pastika, Amrozi told his interrogators that Americans were the intended targets in the Bali attack. ‘They believe the Americans suppressed the Muslims, so they want to take revenge for it,’ the Indonesian official said. ‘But they were not that happy because Australians were killed in big numbers.’

Amrozi was also said to have revealed that he paid 30 million rupiah (S$6,000) for the van, using Malaysian and Singapore currencies.

‘They used to work in Singapore and Malaysia,’ Maj-Gen Pastika said of the bombers.

He declined to elaborate on their identities other than to say that police were looking for 10 other Indonesian men, aged 30 to 40, who were believed to have planned the attacks in early September.

‘There is a link with Malaysia, Singapore and, possibly, with other countries in South-east Asia,’ he added, without divulging details.

But the ongoing investigations have unearthed growing links between the Bali bombing and the Al-Qaeda terrorist network and its Jemaah Islamiah (JI) allies.

Amrozi has told police that he and his fellow bombers had met Indonesian cleric and alleged JI leader Abu Bakar Bashir shortly before the Bali bombings.

The group had also had contacts with Al-Qaeda terror suspect Riduan Isamuddin alias Hambali.

Amrozi, who runs a madrasah in east Java, was a former student of Bashir’s. His wife, according to Maj-Gen Pastika, hails from the same village in East Java as Fathur Rohman Al-Ghozi, a 32-year-old JI bomber who was arrested in Manila in January.

Indonesian intelligence sources told The Straits Times that they believe a 40-year-old Yemen national, acting on the orders of Al-Qaeda, led the attack with the help of a Malaysian.

The Yemeni had flown into Indonesia a week before the attack and possibly left Bali on the last flight immediately after the bombing.

The operation, the sources said, would not have been possible without funding from branches of the Saudi-based Al-Haramain Islamic foundation that had been funnelling money to Muslim hardliners in Indonesia since 1999.

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