New terror unit set up to target police: official

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 April, 2007, 12:00am

Regional terror network Jemaah Islamiah has recovered from the death of its master bomb maker, Malaysian Azahari Husin, and established a wing dedicated to targeting Indonesia's anti-terror police, according to a security source.

The officer also claimed the militants were planning a series of attacks, including assassinations of foreigners and regional officials.

'JI has become stronger and has recovered from Azahari's death. They now have a military wing called Qoriyah, or Askari. This Askari has set up a special unit to fight us, the anti-terror police,' an officer in Yogyakarta said.

'Askari also has plans to kill the leaders of Den88,' he added.

Detachment 88, nicknamed Den88 is the police's anti-terror taskforce set up after the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, including 11 Hong Kong residents. The US-trained taskforce has arrested more than 300 terror suspects.

Azahari is believed to have made the bombs for all the country's biggest attacks. His death in a police shoot-out in 2005 was hailed as a major blow to JI.

But information gleaned from seven terror suspects arrested over the past two weeks revealed the network's growing strength and ambitions. The arrests led to the seizure of a huge cache of weapons, including 70.5kg of TNT and 217 detonators. Eleven guns, including M16s, and jihad literature were also seized, along with 1,600 rounds of ammunition and what were described as dangerous chemicals.

'We've learnt they plan to assassinate foreigners by shooting them. We believe the M16s and huge cache of ammunition that we found was for this purpose,' said the officer.

'They also plan to assassinate an attorney-general in Central Java because he prosecutes terror suspects in court. The group also wants to kill the rector of the Christian University Discourse of Surakarta.'

He said the explosives could have produced a bomb twice as powerful as the 2002 Bali bomb.

The source said there were indications JI had established a laboratory capable of constructing powerful ignition explosives for use as detonators not available in the open market.

'Azahari has passed on his bomb-making skills to several students, one ... of whom we arrested in the raids.

'JI is growing in strength. The huge cache of weapons shows they have devised a sophisticated human courier network to obtain and transport guns, explosives, dangerous chemicals, without being detected.'

Azahari's partner and fellow Malaysian, Noordin Mohamed Top, is still on the run. He is believed to be sheltered by JI's leader, Abu Dujana.

'Dujana is dangerous because he is highly trained, underwent military training in Afghanistan,' he said.