Suspected Islamic militant moved from police station

Nov 30, -0001
JAKARTA: Police in Indonesia on Tuesday transferred one of the country's most wanted militants from the city of Solo in Central Java to the police detention centre in the capital, Jakarta.

Abu Tholut was arrested on Friday and is accused of plotting high-profile assassinations and bloody attacks on foreigners at luxury hotels in Jakarta.

He was captured without a fight during a pre-dawn raid on a home in Central Java province, a police spokesman said, adding that a handgun and several rounds of ammunition were also seized.

Four other men who police allege were part of the same militant group were transferred to Jakarta alongside Tholut.

Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim nation of 240 (m) million, has battled extremists since 2002, when members of the al-Qaida-linked network Jemaah Islamiyah bombed two nightclubs on the resort island of Bali, killing 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.

Members of a violent offshoot of the group have continued to carry out near-annual strikes on embassies, beach-side restaurants and glitzy hotels since then, killing more than 60.

Tholut, also known as Mustofa, became one of the country's most wanted fugitives after master bombmakers Noordin M. Top and Dulmatin were gunned down earlier this year in a series of police raids.

Tholut was convicted for involvement in a 2001 bomb blast at a shopping plaza in central Jakarta that wounded six, but released five years later for good behaviour.

He allegedly helped set up a militant training camp for the home grown militant group, Jamaah Anshorut Tauhid, that was uncovered by police in westernmost Aceh province in February and helped recruit members and raise money, officials have said.

The cell was also plotting Mumbai-style gun attacks on foreigners and assassinations, including of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to punish the state for lending support to the US-led anti-terror fight, they said.

Indonesia has been widely praised for its anti-militant operations, arresting, bringing to trial and jailing hundreds of suspects since 2002.

The frequency of attacks has sharply declined, as have the number of deaths, but experts warn that extremists continue to be a threat.

Nasir Abas - a former militant who has helped police track down and arrest several former colleagues after serving a prison term - said Tholut had been a senior combatant in Afghanistan and was an "excellent instructor." AGENCIES



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