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(11/14/2005) Well coordinated police work in the wake of the October 1, 2005 Bali bombing yielded a number of significant advances last week in Indonesia's continuing war on international terrorism.
Catching the Bad Guys Off Guard
While Indonesian police continued to publicly maintain a dead end in their efforts to identify the 3 decapitated heads of the October 1st Bali bombing attacks, it is now apparent that a nationwide campaign to trace the identities of the bombers had, in fact, yielded positive results allowing police to trace the bombers, their families, and, most importantly, their known associates in the period just prior to their deaths.
Working the evidence chain in reverse, police from Indonesia's elite anti-terror squad placed a rented villa in the cool hills of East Java at Batu, near Malang, under discrete surveillance. A man leaving the villa last Wednesday morning was tailed across Java to an address in Semarang, Central Java. There, police arrested the man while at the same time failing to capture another man, later-identified as master-terrorist Malaysian Noordin M. Top, who made good his escape on a motorbike while engaging police in a dangerous street gun battle.
Meanwhile, the man who traveled from Batu to Semarang was placed under arrest by police who confiscated a bomb and extracted valuable information confirming that one of the most-wanted-terrorists in Southeast Asia, Malaysian Dr. Azahari, was hiding in the Batu residence, already under tight police surveillance.
With Noordin M. Top on the run, police wasted no time and launched a massive police raid on the Batu villa on Wednesday afternoon, November 9, 2005. Following an intense two hour armed siege in which a police officer was wounded, and with the corner fugitives refusing demands to surrender, a bomb wast detonated from inside the structure that virtually destroyed the rented residence and effectively put an end to the stand off. Inside, police later identified the remains of Dr. Azahari and an accomplice, Arman, a known bomb-maker also wanted by police.
Thus ended the final chapter in the life of Dr, Azahari, a man linked by police in a serial killing spree that included bombing raids at churches in 2001, the Bali bombings of 2002 and 2005, the Australian Embassy bombing, and the bombing of the Jakarta Marriott Hotel.
Untangling the Web of Terror
When police took control of the villa they removed the bodies of the two men, the components of 30 bombs, computers, detailed plans for future bombing attacks and firearms. Police also made the macabre discovery at the villa of video tapes containing the final testaments from the three Bali suicide bombers, therewith definitely linking Dr. Azahari and his organization with those attacks in Bali.
The successful raids and related arrests have provided police with numerous leads that will assist authorities in flushing out other terrorist from their strongholds. On Saturday, November 12, police working on new leads now in hand uncovered a store of firearms and bombs buried on agricultural lands near Madium, East Java.
High Praise from the President
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono praised the police for their success in capturing Azahari while calling on the authorities to redouble their effort to capture Noordin M. Top who shared leadership with Dr. Azahari of the terrorist network.
Dr. Azahari's Family Arrives in Jakarta
On Sunday, November 13, members of Dr. Azahari's family arrived at Jakarta to meet with Malaysian Embassy officials and begin the process that will eventually surrender the master-terrorist's remains to his family for final burial in Malaysia.
Ironically, in releasing Dr. Azahari's mortal remains to his family for a proper burial, Indonesia will be extending to the criminal's family a humane courtesy he cruelly denied the families of the scores of victims mutilated beyond recognition in his callous bombing attacks.
A Hostile Reception for 3 Bali Bombers at Nusa Kamabangan
Meanwhile, the three convicted Bali bombers - Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Ali Ghufron - all sentenced to death before a firing squad have reportedly received less than a cordial reception from other prisoners on Indonesia's notorious penal colony of Nusa Kambangan Island. Evacuated from Bali's jail to the high security prison following the October 1st bombing when authorities feared for their safety, local press report that the three were greeted by jeers and screamed death threats from other prisoners when they arrived at the facility. As a result, all three are being held in separate confinement away from the other prisoners at a facility often compared to France's Devil's Island.
Last week one of the convicted three bombers, Ali Gufron , sudddenly cut rank with his two fellow compatriots by declaring his intent to seek a final judicial review of his death sentence. Both Amrozi and Iman Samudra remain adamant in refusing to seek a legal review or request a pardon from the President, removing, at least for the pair, any final legal and procedural impediments before their final reckoning before an Indonesian firing squad.