Indonesian police have identified six terrorist nests a day after announcing the arrest of four men responsible for the bombing of the Australian embassy last year. The suspected camps are near the towns of Losari and Brebes on Java. The arrests, part of a series of raids, showed that Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) is still a potent threat, offering recruits $27,745 to carry out suicide bombings. These are positive developments, particularly with the repeated escapes from police by Azahari Husin, the mastermind of several JI attacks.
The four terrorists were picked up on November 5. They were big fish: One, identified as Rois, was the field coordinator of the bombing on the Australian embassy. Another, Sogir, is a master bomb maker. All four terrorists had explosive belts. Police were able to prevent them from detonating the explosives. In advance of the trial of JIs spiritual leader, Abu Bakar Bashir, a 66-year-old cleric who has already been convicted (serving 18 months in jail) for immigration violations, JI is going to increase its efforts. Bashirs trial was given a green light, and he faces a firing squad if convicted.
Indonesia also thwarted an attack at a shopping mall in Medan, a city on the island of Sumatra. The bomb, which was powerful enough to cause damage 5 kilometers away, was defused, and sent to the United States for examination. A second bomb attack was thwarted because of an accidental explosion in the bomb factory when the sulfur and potassium chlorate reacted. Police captured 13 terrorists who were attending a bomb-making class in Depok, a suburb of Jakarta, as a result of the accident, the leader is still being sought after escaping. Indonesian officials are asking citizens to be alert as the elections on April 5, 2005, draw closer.
Indonesia is also getting help. ASEAN and Japan are planning to sign an anti-terrorism accord at the summit next week. This will increase coordination, making it harder for terrorists to slip across a border to safe havens. JI has retreated to Mindanao, possibly with the assistance of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). MILF has strongly denied these charges. Harold C. Hutchison (firstname.lastname@example.org)