Indonesia bomb suspect held

July 28, 2009 12:00 am

, JAKARTA, Jul 28 – A woman detained by Indonesian police in connection with July 17 hotel bombings in Jakarta has identified her husband as terror suspect Noordin Mohammed Top, her lawyer said Tuesday.

Arina Rahmah, 25, is being held as a witness along with her mother, Dwi Astuti, and two children aged one and two years, following the attacks that killed seven people and two bombers, lawyer Asludin Hatjani told AFP.

"The police showed her photos of Noordin Top and she told them they resembled her husband, Abdul Halim," he said.

"She said the last time she saw him was in March this year."

Police are hoping the housewife from rural Java will provide crucial information about the habits and movements of her husband, one of Asia’s most wanted fugitives who is blamed for a string of bombings in Indonesia.

Police believe his network may be behind the twin suicide blasts on the JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta earlier this month, although no group has claimed responsibility.

Malaysian-born Noordin, 44, allegedly masterminded a suicide truck bombing at the Marriott in 2003, as well as the 2004 suicide bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta and 2005 suicide attacks on restaurants in Bali.

Those attacks killed 42 people, mainly Indonesians, injured hundreds and triggered the biggest manhunt in Indonesian history.

Noordin is believed to lead a splinter group of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) Islamist network responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people, mainly Western tourists.

Rahmah’s father, Baharudin, is a suspected Noordin accomplice who has been on the run since police found bomb-making materials buried in the yard of his home in Cilacap, Central Java, a few days before the Jakarta bombings.

He introduced his young daughter to Noordin in 2005, and the couple had two children, the lawyer said.

Rahmah believed her husband to be a law-abiding employee of an Islamic school on Sulawesi island.

She said he would often disappear on business for months on end but otherwise described him as "like any other husband".

"She said he would stay home for one to two weeks and then leave for a month, two months, even as long as six months," Hatjani said.

"He told her he was doing public affairs work for a religious boarding school in Makassar.

"He was just like any other husband. When he was at home, he’d help her cook and bathe the kids."

Even before this month’s attacks, Cilacap had become a major focus in the manhunt for Noordin.

Baharudin’s uncle, Syaifudin Zuhri, alias Sabit, was detained in the Central Java district on June 21 and is accused of providing training and advice to a Noordin cell that was arrested in Sumatra last year.

The cell had killed a Christian teacher and was planning to bomb a tourist cafe but cancelled the idea over concerns about Muslim casualties.

A man suspected of being trained by Noordin to carry out a suicide attack was arrested in Cilacap last week but police released him due to a lack of evidence.

Police have come close to catching Noordin several times and killed his operations chief Azhari Husin in a shootout in 2005.

But the Malaysian extremist has been adept at using JI family and school connections to escape detection.

Police are also looking for two other men believed to have been involved the hotel blasts.

A suspect identified as Ibrahim worked as a florist at the hotels for three years but disappeared on the day of the attacks.

Another suspect called Nur Said has been described by analysts as Noordin’s "right-hand man" but police have given no information about his alleged role in the attacks.

The two suicide bombers remain unidentified.


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