x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Malaysian militant chief still alive

Police confirm the Malaysian terror mastermind Noordin Mohammed Top is still at large and was not killed in a raid in Indonesia at the weekend.

The Malaysian terror mastermind Noordin Mohammed Top is still at large and was not killed in a raid at the weekend, Indonesian police confirmed today after the latest near-miss in a six-year manhunt. DNA tests showed that a militant killed in the raid was not the alleged terror financier and recruiter, one of Asia's most-wanted men, but an accomplice who helped plan the July 17 hotel bombings in Jakarta.

"I announce officially that the war against terrorism has not ended yet," the police spokesman Nanan Soekarna said, in a blow to the authorities' efforts to crush Indonesia's most dangerous terror network. "The dead body is Ibrohim... We tried to match the DNA with the sample from Johor (Noordin's son) and it didn't match." Ibrohim was a florist who worked at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels, where seven people were killed in almost simultaneous suicide attacks last month.

Police released new security camera footage showing a man identified as Ibrohim escorting the Marriott bomber around the hotel on July 8 and later bringing bomb-making material into the hotel's staff-only loading bay. "Ibrohim was a planner who was always present in the meetings with Noordin M Top," Mr Soekarna said. "He was going to be a suicide bomber against Cikeas," the home of the Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono outside Jakarta, the spokesman added, referring to another plot uncovered by police on Saturday.

Asked whether Noordin had personally planned the hotel attacks, the first bombing against Westerners in Indonesia since 2005, Mr Soekarna said: "Yes he did... He's the mastermind of all this". Noordin, 41, leads what he calls "Al Qa'eda in the Malay Archipelago", an offshoot of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terror organisation blamed for the 2002 Bali attacks that killed 202 people, mainly Western tourists.

Police had received a tip-off that the Islamist fanatic was hiding in a farmhouse at Beji village, Central Java, on Friday and launched a massive raid by scores of heavily armed counterterror police. Local and international media reported the Malaysian had been killed in a hail of gunfire and explosions during the 17-hour siege. He has already escaped two earlier armed assaults on his hideouts. * AFP