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Indonesian Militant Jailed: 3 More Arrested


An Indonesian court has sentenced to prison a man convicted of hiding two key members of the gang that carried out an August 2003 car bomb attack on a Jakarta hotel and other deadly attacks. Including the suicide bomber, 12 people died in the attack on the J.W. Marriott hotel, which police say was the work of the Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiyah.

Ismail, who is also known as Edi, was found guilty of hiding the two men who are believed to have been key players in all the attacks: bomb maker Azahari Husin, and the group's treasurer, Nurdin Mohammed Top. Both are believed to be senior members of Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional militant group that police and intelligence agencies say has links to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

Ismail was sentenced to three years in prison and is the 12th person to be convicted of involvement in the J.W. Marriott bombing, but the two alleged leaders, Indonesia's most wanted men, remain at large.

Terrorism experts say the only way they could have escaped capture so long is because they have an extensive network of sympathizers willing to shelter them from the police.

Sidney Jones is the head of the Southeast Asia office of the International Crisis Group, and a leading expert on Jemaah Islamiyah. She says the group is particularly strong in central and eastern parts of Java island.

"As long as the organization continues to exist in those two core areas of Java, it is going to be very difficult to prevent another incident from taking place because there is that network of support and shelter," she said.

Members of the group have been convicted of carrying out the October 2002 bombing in Bali that killed more than 200 people, and the group has been implicated in last's year deadly bombing in front of the Australian Embassy.

Indonesia has had unparalleled success in rounding up and convicting the men behind the attacks. More than 40 are now behind bars, and three of them have been sentenced to death.

But the investigations continue, and police have announced three more arrests. They said the men had been found in central Sulawesi, where both Christian and Muslim militants have been accused of fueling a long-running conflict.

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