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Indonesia Captures Top Muslim Terrorist


Indonesian police have arrested one of the country's most-wanted Islamic terrorists, Abu Dujana, the alleged head of the military wing of the Southeast Asian terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins in Jakarta has more.

Police say Abu Dujana was captured Saturday, along with seven other suspected members of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah. The arrest took place on the country's main island of Java.

Dujana is the most wanted member of the organization. Ken Conboy, a security expert and author of several books on the terrorist organization, refers to Dujana as the Emir - the Arabic word for "leader" - and says his arrest is significant.

"He is very important on a symbolic level. To get at the Emir? Very important. And as far as recruitment - he does play a role in recruitment, in a more general way. JI is going through a major rebuilding phase right now. So his recruitment skills are very key," said Conboy.

Jemaah Islamiyah, which has links to the al-Qaida terrorist network, advocates the creation of an Islamic state across much of Southeast Asia.

The group's members have been accused in a series of bombings in Indonesia and the Philippines in the past few years, including attacks on the resort island of Bali and blasts at the J.W. Marriott Hotel and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. Altogether, more than 240 people were killed in the bombings.

Presidential spokesman Andi Mallarengang hailed Dujana's arrest.

"We are always committed and serious about fighting terrorism," he said. "Terrorism is our common enemy of the people and this shows also that our police forces are committed and doing what they can to destroy terrorism in Indonesia."

The Indonesian authorities have arrested and convicted more than 300 JI members since the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people.

Terrorism experts say, because of the arrests and disagreements over tactics, the group has weakened and splintered into several factions. All are trying to recover and regroup.

Analysts such as Conboy say Indonesia has been transparent and democratic in its fight against terrorism.

"I think you have got to remain vigilant, but I think Indonesia has been a quiet success story, they have really pulled back JI to the pre- [1998] '98 level where they really were just involved in recruitment and building up their cells and they are not really focused on carrying out operations just yet because they are so focused on rebuilding," said Conboy.

Indonesia is a secular, democratic nation with the world's largest Muslim population. The vast majority practices a moderate form of the faith, but a small and active minority espouses Muslim militancy.

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