Bali Blast suspect lives openly in Indonesia

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    The Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), named by Australia as a suspect in the bombing massacre in Bali, is an al-Qaeda linked group whose alleged leader lives openly in Indonesia despite intense international pressure for his arrest.

    Warnings that JI was planning major terrorist attacks have come thick and fast recently, from countries including Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.

    All three have pointed to Indonesian Islamic cleric Abubakar Ba'asyir as a leader of the organisation [...]

    Less than a week ago, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said during a regional meeting in Malaysia: "The organisation that we are most concerned about is a group called Jemaah Islamiyah. We think Ba'asyir is a significant figure in JI."

    On Sunday, after the blast at Indonesia's Bali tourist resort killed at least 187 people, many of them believed to be Australians, Downer said: "Jemaah Islamiyah does have links to al-Qaeda and it's conceivable that an organisation like that could be behind this action." [...]

    Ba'asyir, 64, is a self-confessed admirer of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, but says Jemaah Islamiyah does not exist and he has no links to terrorism.

    The whereabouts of Hambali, an Indonesian Islamic fundamentalist also known as Riduan Isamuddin, are unknown. He is described as being in charge of the JI in Malaysia and Singapore, and is suspected of having direct links to al-Qaeda.

    Singapore has accused JI of plotting attacks on several Western targets in the island nation, including the Australian embassy, and has arrested 32 alleged JI militants.

    It says JI aims to create a theocratic Islamic state covering Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the southern Philippines island of Mindanao and Brunei.

    The grey-bearded Ba'asyir is chairman of the Indonesian Mujahidin Council, an umbrella organization advocating Islamic law in the sprawling archipelago.

    The United States issued repeated warnings in recent months over fears Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, may be home to al-Qaeda sympathisers.

    After months of official denials, senior Indonesian military officials late in September said they believed al-Qaeda may have a limited network in the country.

    Last week, the US ambassador to Indonesia reportedly warned that he could withdraw some embassy staff unless authorities improved security after a September 23 grenade explosion near an embassy residence.

    And Australia sent security alerts to all its foreign missions on last Friday reminding them to keep high vigilance for possible attacks by al-Qaeda and linked groups.

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