07/04/2008, 00.00
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Sumatra: Western tourists in sights of Islamic terrorists

by Mathias Hariyadi
Police sources reveal this following the capture of a fundamentalist group linked to Jemaah Islamiyah, an Indonesian cell close to al-Qaeda. 22 high-power bombs discovered, intended to strike sensitive spots on the island.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The terrorist group linked to Islamic fundamentalism arrested yesterday is believed to have been planning an attack against foreign tourists, especially Westerners: the news comes from Indonesian police sources, following the capture of ten militants of the Palembang Group, connected to Jemaah Islamiyah, a local cell of the terror network close to Osama Bin Laden.  Those arrested include two leading figures of international terrorism, one from Malaysia and the other from Singapore, in direct contact with the leaders of al-Qaeda, including the "sheikh of terror" himself.

According to general Abubakar Nataprawira, a police spokesman, the attack was supposed to have struck "foreign tourists in Palembang, on the island of Sumatra", and was planned by "the Malaysian terrorist Noordin Mohamed Top".  Noordin, already known to security forces, was in direct and constant contact with Omar (alias Abu Hazam), a citizen of Singapore and a leading figure in international terrorism.

Noordin Mohamed Top had been a recruiter for combatants to join the terrorist group, while Omar - an expert in the assembly of bombs, and connected to the terrorist Mas Slamet Kastari, who recently escaped from a maximum security prison in Singapore - made the bombs.  Investigations have led to the discovery of "at least 22 bombs hidden in Palembang, a city on the coast of the island of Sumatra, some of which were filled with projectiles to increase their destructive power".

The operation of police forces has led to the capture of high-level terrorist operatives: Omar is believed to be responsible for the attack that ripped apart a nightclub in Bukit Tinggi, a town in western Sumatra, all little less than a year ago.  He is also thought to have been the mastermind behind an attempt to kill a Protestant pastor, Reverend Joshua, in the district of Bandung, the provincial capital of West Java, in 2006.

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