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Top Indonesian Terrorist's Wife Arrested in Philippines

  • Nancy-Amelia Collins

Philippine soldiers have arrested the wife of a top Indonesian terrorist, wanted in connection with the 2002 bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali that killed 202 people.

The Indonesian wife of Dulmatin, one of southeast Asia's most wanted terrorists, was arrested in the town of Patikul on the southern island of Jolo, around 1,000 kilometers south of the capital Manila. Her two small children were also taken into custody.

Officials say the woman herself, whose name has not yet been confirmed, is not believed to be directly linked to terrorist activities. But they say she could be charged with violating immigration laws.

Jolo is a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, a Philippine terrorist and criminal gang linked with the regional Muslim terrorist network, Jemaah Islamiyah.

J.I. is believed to be responsible for a series of terrorist bombings over the past several years in Indonesia and the Philippines, which have claimed the lives of hundreds.

Since August, around 5,000 Philippine troops, backed by U.S. intelligence and technical assistance, have been pursuing the Abu Sayyaf and hunting for Dulmatin and another J.I. leader, Umar Patek.

Ken Conboy, a Jakarta-based terrorism expert and author of a book on J.I., says Dulmatin appears to have taken up permanent residence among the Philippines' southern islands.

"He's been floating in and out between Jolo, the Sulu archipelago, and the Mindanao mainland, so it didn't look like he was going to be coming back - what does he have, $10 million on his head? He wasn't going to risk coming back to Indonesia," he said.

Dulmatin is an electronics expert, and believed to be one of the masterminds behind the 2002 Bali bombing. The United States has offered a $10 million reward for his capture, and another million for Umar Patek.

Terrorism expert Conboy, however, says the offer of the reward has not helped to flush Dulmatin out.

"They've sort of narrowed it down to the region of the Philippines where he is, but he's constantly on the move… but apparently the guys that are shielding him are fairly disciplined. They show no signs of cracking, and it's been years now he's had that price on his head," said Conboy.

Philippine officials say Dulmatin and Umar Patek are among dozens of Indonesian J.I. members hiding out in the southern Philippines.

They say J.I. members are providing explosives training to Abu Sayyaf, and helping train new recruits.

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