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7/16/03 - SOUTHEAST ASIA AND TERROR - 2003-07-17

Indonesian police reported on July 11th that they had arrested nine Jemaah Islamiyah members in raids in Jakarta and elsewhere. Police also said they uncovered large caches of explosives and firearms. The suspects are believed to be linked to the October 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, which killed more than two-hundred people.

Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines are also making gains in the global war on terror. Malaysia has detained more than eighty suspected Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists, some with al-Qaida connections. And authorities in the Philippines have indicted eight men for the December 2000 bombing of a commuter train in Manila. Authorities are now searching for three other terrorists who escaped from detention July 14th. As President George W. Bush said during the recent visit of Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the U.S.:

“Both our nations are threatened by terrorism, and we are determined to fight that threat until it is defeated.”

One of those wanted for terrorist attacks throughout southeast Asia is Nurjaman Riduan Isamuddin, known as "Hambali". He and Faiz bin Abu Bakar Bafana are top leaders of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group. Bafana is already serving a prison term for other terrorist acts. Hambali and the other indicted terrorists are at large.

According to Philippine authorities, the December 2000 Manila train bombing was a joint operation of Jemaah Islamiyah and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Captured bomb expert Saifullah Mukhlis Yunos reportedly met with Hambali and Bafana in Manila a week before the attack. Bafana also told an Indonesian court that Hambali met directly with al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to plan terrorist attacks. Hambali played a key role in the October 2002 attacks in Bali.

Until such men are caught, the war on terror will continue.