05/09/2006, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Five suspected terrorists arrested with 4,500 detonators

by Benteng Reges
Police believe the men are members of Jemaah Islamiyah and connected to Noordin Top, Indonesia's most wanted terrorist. Two of the men were involved in the murder of a Protestant female pastor in Palu in 2004.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The police is getting closer to Indonesia's most wanted man, Malaysian-born Noordin Moh Top, who is considered to be a top operative of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network. In looking for Noordin Top, police arrested some terrorist suspects confiscating weapons and 4,500 detonators. Yesterday anti- terrorist police unit Densus 88 captured five suspected terrorists—Aprianto, Arman, Asrudin, Nano and Abdul Muis—in Toli-Toli (Central Sulawesi) where they were hiding in a rented house. In addition to ammunition, videos, books about Jihad and terrorist actions, police found many detonators.

Local residents, who said they were "shocked" by the news, stated that the five men "were normal people" adding that no one "knew what type of work they did".

Asrudin's wife, Salma, complained that her husband was not involved in any terrorist activities. She did never the less say that she lived with him first in Poso, then in Palu.

Yesterday afternoon, police spokesman Anton Bachrul Alam said that two of the five suspects were identified as having participated in the murder of a Protestant female pastor, Susianti Tinulele, in Palu in July 2004.

Police believe that the five are members of al-Qaeda linked Jemaah Islamiyah's third mantiqi or group, which is in charge of training militants and operates in Sulawesi, Kalimantan and the southern Philippines.

Police in Toli-Toli did not provide many details about the arrested men, except to say that "central police in Jakarta is in charge of the investigation" and that all five of them would be flown to the capital.

For local analysts, police reticence to say more is a sign that they might be getting closer to Top who has been on the run for quite some time.

Noordin Moh Top is wanted for his alleged involvement in the 2003 Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta, the 2004 Australian Embassy bombing, and last year's bombing in Bali.

Some experts caution though that even if the Malaysian terrorist is captured it will be very hard to dismantle the vast network of followers he has set up since 2004 in South-East Asia.

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