Indonesian police have arrested four suspects in the deadly September bombing of Australia’s Jakarta embassy, but said on Wednesday a top bombmaker may have eluded arrest despite being stopped by traffic officers.
Police Chief General Da’i Bachtiar confirmed media reports that one of the detained men had said that Azahari Husin, one of Asia’s most wanted men and accused of orchestrating the bombing, had been stopped several times by traffic police for violations and gave money to officers who failed to recognize him and let him go.
“Whether it is true or not, we don’t know. But, if that is true, it gives us cause for introspection. You can check, the traffic police in Jakarta from now will all have the picture of Azahari and Noordin Top in their pockets,” he said.
Police say they believe the Sept. 9 car bomb that killed 10 people outside the Australian embassy was the work of British-educated Malaysian engineer Azahari and his countryman Noordin Top, both wanted in connection with previous bombings linked to Southeast Asian militant network Jemaah Islamiah.
Azahari was thought to have been near the embassy when the bomb exploded, Bachtiar said but did not specify the dates when he may have been stopped by traffic police.
Accused of being chief bombmaker
Authorities say Azahari is the chief bombmaker for Jemaah Islamiah. He is also accused of building the bombs used in last year’s attack on the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta that killed 12 people, and the 2002 Bali nightclub blasts that killed at least 202 people, many of them foreign tourists.
Police on Wednesday identified the four arrested men as Rois, Hassan, Apuy and Ansori.
“Three of them have been under arrest since November 5,” Bachtiar told a news conference, adding that the men had been on a wanted list with rewards of more than $55,450 offered for each.
Another man not on the wanted list, but believed to have helped to make the powerful car bomb used at the embassy, had also been arrested, Bachtiar said.
“Ansori alias Sogir is capable of assembling a bomb ... Sogir’s bomb was tested outside the Australian embassy.” he said.
Australia was quick to congratulate Indonesian authorities, saying the latest arrests would help to curb terrorist activities in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
“Rounding up more of these people, particularly those who are organizers for terrorist attacks in Indonesia, is very promising,” Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told reporters in Adelaide.