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Indonesian Police Arrest Alleged Bali Bombing Mastermind

BY Admin  November 21, 2002 at 1:45 PM EST

Officials say they believe the suspect, 35-year-old Imam Samudra, planned the strikes on two Bali nightclubs and helped to build the bombs used in the attacks.

“We have been scouring the Banten [region of western Java] for months, but we never exposed [the search]. Finally, he appeared and we caught him,” Banten police chief Abdurrachman — who, like many Indonesians, uses only one name — told Jakarta-based radio station Radio Elshinta.

National Police Chief Da’i Bachtiar told reporters Samudra “did not give any resistance” and was not carrying any weapons when he was arrested at the port of Merak in West Java, some 60 miles from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

According to police, Samudra received his bomb-making training in Afghanistan and may be responsible for a series of church bombings in Indonesia in 2000, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

He is also allegedly linked to Jemaah Islamiyah, a militant group reportedly tied to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network and suspected of planning attacks against Western interests in the region.

While police have not definitively linked the Bali bombing to Jemaah Islamiyah or al-Qaida, Indonesian Defense Minister Matori Abdul Djalil told reporters last month he believed the terror network had a hand in the attack.

“We are sure al-Qaida is here,” Djalil said. “The Bali bomb blast is linked to al-Qaida with the cooperation of local terrorists.”

According to the Morning Herald, Samudra’s mother denied in a news report that her son was behind the bombings, while Samudra’s sister says she believes police fabricated his involvement.

Another suspect, 40-year-old mechanic Amrozi, was taken into custody Nov. 5. Authorities say he admitted to owning the van used in one of the bombings and to buying bomb-making materials.

At least seven suspects have been detained in the Bali case. Police are seeking an additional seven suspects. In an effort to expedite their capture, officials released sketches of six of them earlier this week.

The attack was the worst in Indonesia’s history and the most deadly bombing since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.