bali mastermind captured!

  1. Yak
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    Bali blast mastermind captured
    From correspondents in Washington
    August 15, 2003


    THE United States today announced the capture of a Hambali, a top Asian ally of Osama bin Laden and the suspected mastermind of last year's Bali bombing.



    The 36-year-old Indonesian Islamic scholar was also linked to a blast at the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta last week and a series of other deadly attacks in the South-East Asian region.

    The US administration said he was detained in South-East Asia this week, while US TV news reports quoted "security sources" as saying he was arrested in Thailand with arms and explosives.

    'Relief and pleasure'

    Prime Minister John Howard today said Hambali's capture was a major breakthrough in the fight against terrorism.

    "There should be universal relief and pleasure that a man as evil as Hambali has been caught," he told reporters at the Pacific Islands Forum in New Zealand.

    "We have caught the ultimate mastermind and that is very good news.

    "This man is a very big fish. He is the main link between (terror groups) al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah."

    Mr Howard said he had been aware of the capture of Hambali for several days.

    He said he was also aware of further details but could not release that information yet.

    US President George W. Bush hailed the capture of "one of the world's most lethal terrorists".

    "He is a close associate of September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He is one of the world's most lethal terrorists.

    "He is no longer a problem to those of us who love freedom. And neither are nearly two-thirds of known senior al-Qaeda leaders, operational managers and key facilitators who have been captured or have been killed," Bush added in a speech to US forces at a base in California.

    September 11 links

    Hambali, who is also known as Riduan bin Isomuddin, is a chief of the radical Jemaah Islamiah group.

    He is wanted in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines in connection with a series of bomb attacks.

    A senior administration official told reporters that other countries helped with the detention of Hambali, but would not name the states involved or give other details of the capture.

    Hambali helped to arrange a meeting in Malaysia in January 2000 that included two men who went on to become hijackers in the strikes on New York and Washington in September 11, 2001, according to the official.

    The official said Hambali was being interrogated in US custody at a secret location, and that Bush was informed of the capture yesterday, while on vacation at his Crawford, Texas ranch.

    According to the US official, Hambali had earlier this year received a "large sum of money for a major attack".

    The money was handed over by an al-Qaeda leader in Pakistan.

    Al-Qaeda 'diminished'

    The official would not say whether that attack was thwarted or still in the planning stages, but said Hambali would be interrogated as "part of ongoing efforts to neutralise the threat".

    The official called Hambali al-Qaeda's "most important link to terrorist groups in South-East Asia" and said his capture "effectively diminishes the group's (al-Qaeda's) lethal capability" in the region, although the network remains a threat.

    The bombing on the Indonesian resort island of Bali last October killed 202 people, mainly young western tourists, many of them Australian. The August 5 blast at the Jakarta hotel killed 12 people.

    Hambali was among eight people indicted in the Philippines for the bombing of the Manila overhead railway that killed 22 people in 2000.

    The Philippines indictment said the bombing had been in retaliation for the government's capture of several camps of the Muslim separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the southern Philippines that year.

    Hambali is also said to have played a key role in directing bombings and attacks on priests and churches in Indonesia that killed 19 people in 2000.
 
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