Indonesia arrests senior JI leader linked to Bali bombings

JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesia has arrested a senior leader of the Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) network for an alleged role in the deadly 2002 Bali bombings, a police spokesman said.

National Police spokesman Argo Yuwono said Zulkarnaen, 57, was arrested in Lampung on Sumatra island on Thursday after spending nearly 18 years at large.

Zulkarnaen “is now being interrogated” and anti-terror investigators were searching his residence, Argo said.

Zulkarnaen has been on Indonesia’s most-wanted list since the bombings that killed 202 people on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

“He was the military leader of JI during the attack,” Argo said.

His cell is also believed to have helped carry out the suicide bombing at Jakarta’s Marriott Hotel in 2003 that killed 12 people.

He was the only Indonesian listed on Washington’s “Rewards for Justice” programme, with a bounty of up to USD5 million.

The former Afghan war veteran established a special unit within JI tasked with planning deadly attacks.

The unit was also mandated to incite ethnic and religious violence in Sulawesi and Molucca islands, where thousands died between 1998 and 2002.

JI was founded by a handful of Indonesian militants exiled in Malaysia in the 1980s and grew to include cells across Southeast Asia.