Indonesia suspects fugitive terrorist in bombings

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The Independent Online

Investigators worked today to identify a pair of suicide bombers who attacked two American luxury hotels in Indonesia's capital, and health officials confirmed at least four of the dead were foreigners.

Suspicions hardened that the blasts were masterminded by Noordin Top, a Malaysian who heads a breakaway faction of the Southeast Asian militant network Jemaah Islamiyah.

"I'm 200 percent sure this was his work," said Nasir Abbas, a former Jemaah Islamiyah leader turned police informant who has worked with police on investigations into Indonesia's last three terrorist attacks.

Suicide bombers posing as guests attacked the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta on yesterday, setting off a pair of blasts that killed eight people and wounded more than 50, authorities said.

A police investigator also told The Associated Press on today that Noordin was the most likely suspect.

"Considering the target, the location and content of the bombs, it was clearly the work of Noordin," the investigator said, declining to give his name because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media.

He said police had confiscated handwritten notes, a mobile phone and a bomb encased in a laptop computer from room 1808 of the Marriott, where the bombers had apparently prepared for the blasts.

The investigator said a hotel receptionist told police that the man who checked into the room gave his name as "Nurdin." He put down a $1,000 cash deposit because he had no credit card.

Authorities have not officially named a suspect, but suspicion quickly fell on Jemaah Islamiyah or its allies. The al-Qaida-linked network is blamed for past attacks in Indonesia, including a 2003 bombing at the Marriott in which 12 people died.

The police investigator said the heads of four of the victims had been blown off in yesterday's blasts.

The Health Ministry crisis center has identified five of the dead — two from Australia, one from New Zealand, one from Singapore and one from Indonesia.

Family members of one Australian victim, Perth businessman Nathan Verity, were expected to identify his body today before taking him home to be buried, the Australian Associated Press reported, quoting a family friend.

The dead New Zealander was identified by his employer as Timothy David Mackay, 61, who worked for cement products manufacturer PT Holcim Indonesia. He was reportedly attending a business meeting at the Marriott.

Police will provide more details about their investigation later today, said Brig. Gen. Sulistyo Ishak, deputy spokesman for the national police.

Officials said 17 foreigners were among the wounded, including eight Americans and citizens of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea and Britain.