The Jemaah Islamiyah terror network survived the death of its master bomb-maker last year, and is now splintered into independent cells that continue to recruit suicide bombers in Indonesia, a confidential government report says.
The document by the country’s intelligence agency, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, says senior figures in the organization have “ongoing links” with fellow militants in Afghanistan, the Philippines and Thailand as well asthose in jail inside Indonesia.
Jemaah Islamiyah, which once had cells throughout Southeast Asia and allegedly received funding from al-Qaida, is blamed in a score of bloody bombings and failed plots in the region, including five suicide bombings in Indonesia that together killed more than 240 people.
Authorities have arrested scores of the group’s operatives in the last four years, and in November police killed Azahari Husin, a top leader who allegedly made many of the bombs used in the attacks, during a raid on his hideout.
The report said that after Azahari’s death, Jemaah Islamiyah went further underground, forming small cells of terrorists comprising mostly of young people recruited through Islamic study groups.
The cells are called “Thaifah Mansurah” (or Winning Team), and operate independently, according to the confidential 33-page document, which was drafted earlier this month.
“‘Thaifah Mansurah’ are the main resource for JI when it is looking for suicide bombers,” the report said.
Noordin M. Top, the group’s alleged operational chief and head recruiter, remains at large.
Nasir Abbas, who was a key Jemaah Islamiyah operative until his arrest in 2003, told The AP that the new, loose structure of the group would make it even harder for police to track down Noordin.
“If police caught a regional head, it’s unlikely he could identify other members of the group, or reveal the whereabouts of Noordin,” said Abbas, who now works with authorities.
Azahari and Noordin allegedly played key roles in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 mostly foreign tourists, attacks in the capital Jakarta in 2003 and 2004 that together killed 21, and triple suicide bombings on three crowded restaurants on Bali in October that killed 20.