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Police say JI planning more attacks in Indonesia

Abdul Khalik, Jakarta

Several members of the Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) network are still planning to launch terror attacks in various parts of the country despite the arrest of some of their leaders, a senior police officer said.

JI is listed by the United Nations as an organization that is linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist group.

National Police Director of Counterterrorism Brig. Gen Pranowo said that some members of JI who had been interrogated in Denpasar, Bali, had told the police that many JI members were refusing to give up terrorism.

"JI members are split into two main groups. One faction in the JI still believes that attacking strategic places is the best option they have, while others would like to stop the attacks," Pranowo told The Jakarta Post over the weekend.

He added that in the first faction, which is led by fugitives Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Moh. Top, members were still planning attacks on strategic locations throughout the country while the members of the other faction, whose leaders had been arrested by the police, had decided to quit.

Pranowo said JI's ability to mount serious attacks was severely dented by the arrest of many of its members after the 2002 Bali bombings, including Hambali, the group's alleged operations chief.

Hambali was Southeast Asia's most wanted fugitive before his August 2003 arrest by Thai police, who turned him over to the U.S.

Pranowo agreed that it was possible that Azahari's group could recruit new members as part of a JI reorganization.

"However, many JI members have stopped thinking of terror attacks and are reintegrating into normal society. For example, the five members currently being interrogated in Denpasar have been very cooperative with us," he said.

JI is suspected of having planned and carried out the Bali nightclub blasts that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists. Azahari and Noordin managed to escape a police raid in Bandung, West Java. Police earlier said the two may be in the possession of explosives, which could be used at any time.

Last week, the Malaysian police's intelligence chief was quoted as saying that remnants of JI were regrouping and planning more attacks in Southeast Asia.

Mohamad Yusof Abdul Rahman, chief of the Royal Malaysian Police's Special Branch, also said that two pesantren, or religious schools, one in Solo and one in Semarang, were sending out clerics to teach radicalism across Indonesia.

However, National Police chief of detectives Comr. Gen. Suyitno Landung Sudjono said it was normal for religious schools to send clerics to other pesantren.

"We can't jump to the conclusion that the clerics are being sent to teach radicalism. That would cause unrest. Muslim clerics and their followers wouldn't accept that," said Suyitno.

He also rejected allegations that some pesantren students were being trained as sleepers, who would one day be called into action.

Pranowo said that the police expected they would be able to capture Azahari and Noordin, citing important information obtained during the interrogation of suspects in Denpasar.

The police arrested five alleged members of JI in Sukoharjo, Surakarta, Central Java, earlier this month. They were subsequently transferred to Denpasar for interrogation.

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