MALAYSIA is standing shoulder to shoulder with Indonesia in an intensified four-nation manhunt for Kluang-born terrorist Noordin Mat Top.
The Malaysian, Singaporean and Australian governments are assisting Indonesia to hunt master bomb-maker Noordin in connection with the deadly twin hotel bombings in Jakarta last Friday.
The 41-year-old extremist may soon run out of places to hide as he has a liver condition that needs regular
treatment, sources told Malay Mail.
In desperation, Noordin, might even flee Indonesia in disguise as his condition is believed to be deteriorating, said a source.
This terrorist is the same sick man who is said to have masterminded the Jakarta hotel bombings that killed nine people and wounded more than 50, mostly foreigners.
The trademark Noordin bombs were packed with nails, ball bearings, nuts and bolts to maximise carnage and appeared to be “identical” to ones used in past JI attacks, police said.
They were also the same as bombs found in a recent raid on an Islamic boarding school in central Java during the hunt for Noordin, leader of a Jemaah Islamiyah splinter group.
Police said they were also following leads in the Cilacap region of Central Java, where explosives were reportedly found buried in a garden last week at the house of Noordin’s father-in-law, who is also at large.
Security will be intensified along Malaysia’s borders to ensure the Jakarta bombers do not sneak in.
Sources said counter terrorism experts from here are among a crack team that left for Jakarta soon after the bombings.
They will assist their Indonesian counterparts in deciphering the codes, as well as provide high-tech equipment to give greater clarity to CCTV footage that could help identify the killers.
The probe will focus on a laptop believed to have belonged to one of the bombers found in a room at the Ritz-Carlton.
Jakarta police said the laptop contained information and codes believed to have been used by the bombers.
Security videos captured the moment of the explosion in the Marriott.
The brief, grainy images show a man wearing a cap and pulling a bag on wheels walking across the lobby toward the restaurant, followed by a flash and smoke filling the air.
Investigators worked with medical teams on Saturday to reconstruct the remains of the culprits believed to have set off the explosions that tore through the restaurants of the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton at breakfast time the day before.
The “control centre” for the attacks – room 1808 in the Marriott – is another priority for investigators.
The attack occurred as the Marriott was hosting a regular meeting of top foreign executives of major companies in Indonesia organised by the consultancy firm CastleAsia, said the group, which is headed by an American.
The cooperation among Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia resulted in the arrest of Singaporean terrorist
Mas Selamat Kastari in May.
Mas Selamat, who escaped from a maximum security detention centre in the republic on Feb 27, 2008, was arrested in Johor with two others following intelligence sharing with the police forces of Indonesia and Singapore.
Evil mastermind remains elusive
BOMB-MAKER Noordin Mat Top, 41, is now accused of masterminding five major strikes in Indonesia that killed at least some 250 people and wounded hundreds others.
This includes last Friday’s bombings, the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings, a strike on the J.W. Marriott in 2003, and a huge blast at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in 2004 when a ton of explosives was hidden in a delivery van.
Thousands of police personnel have been mobilised by Indonesian authorities over the years to locate and arrest Noordin, but he has proved to be elusive.
He the most wanted terrorist in Asia and has been on the radar of almost every law enforcement agency.
In 2006, besides being wanted by Malaysian and Indonesian authorities, Noordin was also listed on the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation war on terrorism list as the third most wanted suspect.
Noordin was reported by the FBI to be “an explosives expert”. The FBI also has reported him to be “an officer,
recruiter, bomb-maker, and trainer for the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) group”.
Noordin was a key recruiter and financier for Jemaah Islamiyah, but analysts say he has now formed his own militant group.
He claimed to lead a previously unknown group called Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad, which translates as Organisation for the Base of Jihad.
The suicide attacks on two hotels in Jakarta last Friday, which killed nine people including the two suspected bombers, has raised concerns that Noordin’s militant activities have resumed.
His aliases include Noordin Muh Top, Noordin Mat Top, and Noordin Moch Top.
He is a BSc holder from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and a former senior supervisor at Sekolah Islam Luqmanul Hakiem, Johor Baru.
Noordin’s close friend and fellow JI member Dr Azahari Husin, also a Malaysian, was killed in a shootout with Indonesian police in 2005.
The two men are thought to have acted together to plan attacks, with Noordin as the financier and Azahari the bomb-maker.
Newspapers dubbed them the “Money Man” and the “Demolition Man”.
Noordin had fled to Indonesia with Azahari after the Malaysian government cracked down on Islamists following the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the US.
Once in Indonesia, he got married using an assumed name, Abdurrachman Aufi. His wife, Munfiatun, was jailed in June 2005 for concealing information about his whereabouts.
Indonesian troops finally cornered Azahari, a trained engineer and former university lecturer who in 1990 gained a doctorate from the UK’s University of Reading, at a house in East Java in November 2005.
The father of two was killed, either by a police bullet or by a bomb triggered by an accomplice. But Noordin continues to evade capture.