Southeast Asia’s top terrorist believed killed in raid

Indonesian police said they are “90 percent (certain)” that Noordin Mohammed, a terror mastermind from the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) group was among four killed during a raid by police on a suspected Islamic militant base in central Java.

An early morning raid on a militant hideout is believed to have killed Noordin Mohammad Top, Southeast Asia’s most-wanted terrorist and the leader of an Islamist faction responsible for terrorist attacks across the region, Indonesian police sources said on Thursday.

Police stormed the hideout just outside Solo City in Central Java at around 2 am Paris time (GMT+2) after a nine-hour siege. Noordin’s decapitated corpse is believed to have been one of four bodies recovered at the scene, an officer of Indonesia’s Special Detachment 88 counter-terrorism squad told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The officer said he was “90 percent” certain that one of the dead was Noordin.

A Malaysian national, the 41-year-old Noordin is the leader of a militant group known as “Al-Qaeda in the Malay Archipelago”, a more violent splinter group of Jemaah Islamiyah, the group suspected of planning a spate of deadly attacks across Asia and the Pacific, including the July 17 suicide bombings of the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in the capital, Jakarta. The attacks left a total of nine people dead, including six foreigners and the two suicide bombers.

Noordin is also suspected of planning an earlier attack on the Jakarta Marriott in 2003, on the Australian embassy in 2004 and a series of bombings on the island of Bali in 2005 that targeted foreign tourists.

Noordin, who avoids using mobile phones in a bid to avoid detection, had eluded police for years and had a bounty of more than $100,000 on his head. He was erroneously reported killed on August 8 after a 17-hour police raid on a safehouse in Temanggung in Central Java.

Police spokesman Nanan Soekarna said on Thursday that the bodies recovered in the raid were on their way to the capital for identification.
A cache of grenades was found in the house as well as eight sacks containing explosives, Soekarna told AFP.


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