Noordin M. Top, one of Asia’s most wanted terrorism suspects and linked to several Indonesian bombings in the past decade, was killed Saturday, ending a six-year manhunt, two law enforcement sources tell CNN.
He was killed during an 18-hour firefight with an Indonesian anti-terrorism unit, Detachment 88, in Indonesia’s Central Java town of Temanggung, a security forces source and a police source said. Top, a Malaysian-born explosives expert, is believed to have been behind the twin hotel bombings in Jakarta last month. A statement attributed to him claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing attacks against the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels where seven people and the two suspected bombers were killed, and more than 50 were wounded. It was the first major terrorist attack in Indonesia in more than three years. Top was also suspected in the 2004 attack on the Australian Embassy in Jakarta where 16 people were killed and more than 200 wounded, national police chief Bambang Hendarso said. Top, who was to turn 41 next week, was reportedly an officer, recruiter, bomb-maker and trainer for a small splinter group of the militant organization Jemaah Islamiyah, which has ties to al Qaeda. He allegedly was involved in a previous attack on the Marriott in Jakarta in August 2003, as well as attacks on a Bali nightclub in 2002, and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, according to the FBI. In February 2006, the FBI added Top to its list of 10 suspected terrorists who have not been charged in the United States and officially are wanted only for questioning. Indonesian police took into questioning one of his wives, Arina Rohmah, last month, but according to her lawyer, she did not know she was married to Top but rather to a teacher known as Abdul Halim. The firefight began Friday afternoon, with witnesses telling Indonesian television about gunfire and explosions coming from the direction of the house where Top and three to four people were believed to be holed up. Security forces had launched the raid after two people believed to be nephews of its owner were arrested earlier in the day, according to Indonesia’s official ANTARA News Agency. “Police officers entered the house and fired profusely inside the house while other policemen surrounded the house and opened its windows by force,” ANTARA reported. After the gunfire ended, local television showed police with their helmets off, shaking hands and carrying caskets into the house, suggesting that those inside the house had been killed or captured. In another victory Saturday, Indonesian police killed two militants believed to be connected with the 2004 embassy bombing and found a cache of explosives on the outskirts of Jakarta, the national police chief said. Police found about 100 kg (220 lbs) of explosives along with bomb-making materials and a truck, which they did not immediately open out of fear it might have been rigged to explode, Hendarso added.
Also on Saturday, a man identified as Suryana, who uses the aliases Yayan and Gepeng, was arrested in north Jakarta on suspicion of terrorism charges, said police Inspector General Nanan Soekarna. Soekarna could not say if Suryana was connected with last month’s Jakarta hotel bombings or other incidents.