Top Terrorist Still on the Run: All Stops Out in Bali Security Clamp

DENPASAR ~ Bali remains on extra-high alert as police and intelligence agencies renew their search for Malaysian terror mastermind Noordin Mohammed Top, still at large in Indonesia.

Police chief Sutisna, who took over the top job only on July 24, this week called a meeting with managers of Bali hotels, organised with the Bali Hotels Association, to set out improved security plans and get the views of hoteliers.

It emerged during the week that a key terrorist in the July 17 Jakarta hotel bombings was a florist at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in the city who had secretly been a member of the banned Jemaah Islamiyah group for six years.

He disappeared after the Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott hotels were bombed and was killed in the police assault on a remote Central Java farmhouse last weekend.

Sutisna told hoteliers at the crisis meeting on Wednesday that as well as increasing surveillance and checks at entry points – Gilimanuk for traffic from Java and Padang Bai for traffic from Lombok – police would increase surveillance and intelligence-gathering efforts across the island to find any terrorist-linked individuals already here.

He told them: “The terrorist movement is still active.”

Police spokesman I Gede Sugianyar said later: “The meeting was also attended by senior police officers, including the head of Densus 88 (the anti-terrorism unit) in Bali.”

The security effort, including extra attention to CCTV surveillance, takes on added urgency because of Independence Day on August 17.

Sutisna said police were working closely with the military and the provincial government in the renewed security operation.

“Bali security issues are not only the responsibility of the police. It is a shared responsibility. If Bali remains safe, the island’s economy will not have a problem and tourism will not be disturbed,” he said.

Top has been on the run for six years, since the 2003 Jakarta bombings, and is believed to have organised the 2005 Bali bombings – which killed 24 people – and the July 17 attacks on the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta.

He was first reported to have been killed in the police assault on a remote Central Java farmhouse last weekend, but forensic tests on the body removed from the building showed it was the Ritz-Carlton florist, not Indonesia’s most-wanted man.

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