Jakarta bomber was recruited by terror group’

Two Jemaah Islamiah detainees have identified suspect from photograph, say police.

The suicide bomber who blew up a luxury hotel here was the recruit of two Jemaah Islamiah suspects detained recently in raids on the terrorist group’s hideouts, Indonesian police said yesterday.

The disclosure, coming just days after Tuesday’s attack, underscored the urgency with which the Indonesian police is driving its investigations into the bombing which left about 10 people dead and 150 others wounded.

The police revelation about a JI link came as President Megawati Sukarnoputri voiced dissatisfaction with the level of cooperation among Southeast Asian countries in fighting terrorism.

In her first public comments since Tuesday’s attack, she told diplomats gathered for a conference to mark Asean’s 36th anniversary that much more had to be done.

‘Regional plans of action… had long been established as part and parcel of Asean cooperation but, suddenly, these appeared to be inadequate in the face of terror attacks,’ she noted.

Although she did not elaborate on possible action plans, her comments yesterday indicated a raising of the stakes in her battle against Islamic extremists, who have threatened more attacks.

In disclosing the latest findings, national detective chief Erwin Mappaseng said that the suspected bomber in the JW Marriott Hotel blast had been identified by two detained JI members – Sardono Siliwangi and Mohammad Rais.

Both men, who were shown a photograph of the alleged bomber, 28-year-old Asmar Latin Sami, admitted that they recruited him for their network.

The two men were arrested in June in Jakarta and Semarang, where police raids last month uncovered a cache of weapons and bomb-making material, including 900kg of potassium chlorate.

Investigators have noted the similarities between Tuesday’s attack and the Bali bomb blasts, including the use of mobile phone detonators and a deadly brew of potassium chlorate and TNT in the bombs.

National police chief Da’i Bachtiar noted, however, that the terrorists were becoming more adroit in their use of communications equipment to avoid electronic detection.

‘In the past … we could check them continuously,’ he told a press conference. ‘But recently … we can’t detect their signals.’

But observers believe that two major terrorist attacks in the space of 10 months have turned public sentiment against the radicals, allowing the Megawati administration greater freedom in going after them.

One year ago, Indonesia needed ‘encouragement’ to join other Asean countries to battle terrorism. Now, it is taking the lead.

Making a pitch for Asean to evolve into a ‘fully-fledged security community’, a proposal which will top its coming summit in October, Ms Megawati said yesterday: ‘This does not mean a defence or military alliance, but a more comprehensive political cooperation in which they share responsibility in responding to threats to…security.’

She added: ‘It has become clear that no single country or group of countries can overcome this threat alone.’

Palace aide Rizal Malarangeng told The Straits Times: ‘The terrorists have declared war on us. They have slapped us hard on our right and left cheeks.

‘Do you think we will just stand by and let them hit us over and over again? No. We have had enough. We will fight back.’

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