Jakarta (AsiaNews) Police Chief General Sutanto confirmed today that Malaysian-born terrorist Azahari bin Husin was dead. "It is 99.9 per cent certain that one victim [in Batu] was Dr Azahari," he said. Azahari is thought to have blown himself up whilst trying to escape from a special anti-terrorist squad of the police after a two-hour operation in Batu, a mountainous area 90 km south of Surabaya, the capital of East Java province
The confirmation came from Iswandi, a suspected terrorist arrested shortly after the shootout with the police, but absolute certainty as to the identity of the body will have to wait till DNA tests are performed tomorrow, General Sutanto said.
Azahari, 43, was considered a leading figure in Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorist organisation linked to al-Qaeda.
He and Noordin Mohamed Top were allegedly involved in five major terrorist attacks in Indonesia, including the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people and last month triple suicide attack, also in Bali, that left 20 people dead.
Police source believe Azahari jointed Jemaah Islamiyah in the early 90s and trained at an al-Qaeda camp in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
He had studied engineering in Australia and obtained a doctorate in the United Kingdom, and was considered an explosive expert.
To evade capture by the police he had travelled in Malaysia and Thailand later finding refuge in Indonesia.
According to Ken Conboy, author of a major study on Jemaah Islamiyah, Azahari was one "South-East Asia's five most dangerous terrorists".