Indonesian militant linked to 2002 Bali bombings flown to Jakarta for questioning

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Indonesian authorities on Wednesday transferred 23 militants to the capital Jakarta for questioning, including one of the suspected bomb makers behind the 2002 attacks on the resort island of Bali.

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Zulkarnaen, thought to be one of the seniormost members of Al Qaeda-linked militant group Jemaah Islamiah, was arrested on Sumatra island last week along with 22 others in a series of raids.

After the group’s charter plane had landed at Jakarta airport, Zulkarnaen, who was wearing an orange shirt with a sarong, was escorted by anti-terrorism police from the plane.

At a news conference at the airport, national police spokesman Aswin Siregar desribed Zulkarnaen as “a very, very dangerous person” for Indonesia and the world.

A singed shoe sits on a table inside a destroyed bar at the site of a bomb blast in Kuta Beach on Bali October 16, 2002. At least 181 people, mostly foreign tourists, died in an explosion Saturday night outside a popular night club on the Indonesian resort island. (File photo: Reuters)
A singed shoe sits on a table inside a destroyed bar at the site of a bomb blast in Kuta Beach on Bali October 16, 2002. At least 181 people, mostly foreign tourists, died in an explosion Saturday night outside a popular night club on the Indonesian resort island. (File photo: Reuters)

Zulkarnean is believed to have been involved in making the bombs that were used in the Bali bombings that killed 202 people and the 2003 bombing of the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta that killed 12 people.

Indonesia has been dealing with militant attacks for the past two decades from groups such as Jemaah Islamiah, some of whose members trained in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the southern Philippines.

In the wake of the Bali attacks and with backing from Australia and the US, Indonesia set up an elite anti-terrorist unit that helped weaken Jemaah Islamiah and resulted in scores of suspected militants being arrested or killed.

But the ability of Zulkarnean to stay hidden for so long raises questions about whether the group has managed to remain a force and potentially regenerate.

Police spokesman Aswin told reporters authorities aimed to track all the networks that helped him evade capture.

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