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Indonesian Police Arrest More Jemaah Islamiyah Members - 2003-07-11

Police in Indonesia have arrested at least seven more members of Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional terrorist group with connections to al Qaida. The arrests are the latest of many in Indonesia and around the region, but analysts warn that the terrorists are still capable of striking again.

The Indonesian police have arrested dozens of suspected members of Jemaah Islamiya over the past nine months, and at least seven more detentions announced Friday might further limit the group's ability to mount operations, such as last October's fatal bombing on the island of Bali.

Police officials said six men were arrested early this week, and a seventh shot himself to death. A spokesman denied rumours circulating in the media for several days that Southeast Asia's most wanted terrorist, Riduan Isamuddin, had been captured.

Mr. Isamuddin, who is better known as Hambali, is alleged to be the chief lieutenant in the region to al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Although many key members of Jemaah Islamiyah, or JI, are now behind bars, Sidney Jones of the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, warns that the terror group still poses a serious threat. She says loose affiliations among militant groups make it difficult to make a clean sweep of the groups' members.

"To me when you combine that fact with the fact that several top leaders are still at large means that the capacity for serious damage is still here," she said.

JI has been accused of a number of terrorist attacks in Asia in addition to the Bali bombing. These include a series of explosions outside churches across Indonesia three years ago, which killed 19 people, and a number of deadly blasts in the Philippines.

Alleged members of JI have also been arrested in the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia, where they are accused of planning or carrying out terrorist acts.