Indonesia nabs militant linked to Bali bombing

Suspected military leader of terror group Jemaah Islamiyah arrested 'without resistance'

Zulkarnaen, whose real name was Aris Sumarsono, is an Afghan-trained militant.
Zulkarnaen, whose real name was Aris Sumarsono, is an Afghan-trained militant.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB/INTERNET

Indonesian police said yesterday that they have arrested suspected Jemaah Islamiah (JI) leader Zulkarnaen, the man said to be behind the 2002 Bali bombing.

Zulkarnaen, whose real name is Aris Sumarsono, is an Afghan-trained militant who is believed to have led the elite squad involved in the suicide bombing at Jakarta's JW Marriott Hotel in 2003 that killed 12 people.

The 57-year-old is also suspected to have made the bombs that killed 202 people in Bali in 2002.

He had been on the run since the Jakarta bombing.

The police said he was arrested "without resistance" late last Thursday in Purbolinggo district in East Lampung regency, Lampung province, on Sumatra island. His house was also raided.

Zulkarnaen acted as the commander of the JI regional terror network, and set up a squad of fighters known as Laskar Khos who were involved in the Bali bombing, said the police.

This squad was allegedly also responsible for the sectarian violence conflicts in Poso in Central Sulawesi, and Ambon in Maluku.

Zulkarnaen led military intelligence operations for the JI.

Along with Umar Patek, a field commander in the 2002 Bali bombing, he managed to regroup their followers quickly whenever a key associate was caught or killed.

Zulkarnaen was also reportedly an Al-Qaeda pointman in South-east Asia. He became operations chief for JI after the arrest of his alleged predecessor Encep Nurjaman, also known as Hambali, in Thailand in 2003.

Zulkarnaen's arrest comes after the police's anti-terrorism squad Densus 88 arrested another terrorist, Taufik Bulaga, or Upik Lawanga, in Lampung late last month. Taufik was an experienced bomb-maker and a close associate of dead JI commander Noordin Top.

Zulkarnaen, an Afghan-trained militant, is said to be the leader of the Jemaah Islamiah terror network.
Zulkarnaen, an Afghan-trained militant, is said to be the leader of the Jemaah Islamiah terror network.

The police said that Zulkarnaen had helped Taufik to lie low.

The police stepped up their anti-terrorism work following a recent attack in Central Sulawesi.

On Nov 27, four members of a Christian family in Lemban Tongoa, a remote village in Central Sulawesi, were killed, with two of them beheaded. And villagers' homes, including those used for mass prayers, were torched.

The 11-member Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) group, led by terrorist ringleader Ali Kalora, was suspected to be behind the killings.

MIT militants pledge allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and the group's former leader Santoso was once Indonesia's most-wanted terrorist. He was killed in July 2016, following a massive manhunt.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 13, 2020, with the headline 'Indonesia nabs militant linked to Bali bombing'. Subscribe