Suspects arrested over Jakarta hotel blasts

REUTERS , JAKARTA

Thu, Aug 20, 2009 - Page 5

Indonesian police have arrested a man believed to be a Saudi national and a local man suspected of involvement in arranging funding for last month’s suicide attacks on Jakarta hotels, police said yesterday.

Authorities are trying to pin down whether the bombings at the JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels may have received overseas funding from al-Qaeda, as has been the case in attacks in the past, a police source said.

National police spokesman Nanan Soekarna told a news conference that the two men, who he identified only as Ali and Iwan, had been arrested recently in different areas of West Java.

“The police are investigating Ali and Iwan’s involvement, their links to another country in terms of funding,” Soekarna said.

Ali is believed to be a Saudi, but police were still crosschecking his identity, Soekarna said.

“We suspect he is a Saudi Arabian citizen, but we still need to prove whether his citizenship is fake or not,” he said.

Soekarna declined to comment on whether al-Qaeda could be involved.

An Indonesian court in 2004 revealed that there had been a flow of cash funneled from al-Qaeda’s No. 2 at the time, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, via Indonesian students studying in Pakistan to fund an earlier attack on Jakarta’s JW Marriot hotel in 2003.

Media reports quoting police sources have said that authorities believed that funds for last month’s hotel bombings might have been brought into Indonesia from the Middle East by couriers in June.

The police source said that they were investigating whether nationals from Yemen could have been involved in planning the attacks.

Last Thursday, police issued photographs of four more men believed to be involved in the July 17 hotel attacks.

They were named as Syaifudin Zuhri bin Djaelani Irsyad, Ario Sudarso, Mohamad Syahrir and Bagus Budi Pranoto, alias Urwah.

The latter suspect was previously sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail in 2004 for harboring Malaysian-born militant Noordin Mohammad Top and his late accomplice Azhari Husin, Soekarna said.

Top, who formed a violent wing of the Jemaah Islamiah militant network, is believed to be the mastermind behind last month’s attacks that killed nine people and wounded 53.

Since the bombings, police have arrested at least five people, and three others died during raids, but hopes that they had killed Top during a raid in Central Java proved misplaced.