[Nasional-e] Indonesia police say suspect in McDonald's blast linked to radical Islamic group

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Sun Dec 8 19:24:07 2002

Sun Dec 8, 5:14 AM ET

Indonesia police say suspect in McDonald's blast linked to radical Islamic group

By MICHAEL CASEY, Associated Press Writer

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Police investigating bombings of a McDonald's
restaurant and a car dealership in central Indonesia said Sunday that one of
the suspects is a member of a radical Islamic group whose leader has been
jailed in the Philippines for possessing explosives.

South Sulawesi Police Chief Brig Gen. Firman Gani said police also have
detained the wife of another member of the group, Laskar Jundullah, in
connection with Thursday's blasts. They also raided the homes of at least
eight other members of the group, part of a committee pushing to establish
Islamic law in Indonesia, he said.

Police arrested a second suspect and believe a third may have been killed
in the attack, and released a sketch of the man in an effort to identify him,
Gani said.

So far, police have detained five people in connection with the bomb blast at
the McDonald's in the South Sulawesi provincial capital of Makassar that
killed three people and injured two. About an hour later, a second bomb in
Makassar tore through a car dealership owned by Indonesian Welfare
Minister Jusuf Kalla, damaging four cars but causing no injuries.

The probe has quickly focused on Laskar Jundullah, whose leader, Agus
Dwikarna, was sentenced earlier this year in the Philippines to 17 years in
jail for possessing C-4 plastic explosives.

Philippine police have also accused Dwikarna of being part of Jemaah
Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian-based Islamic extremist group suspected of
links to al-Qaida that is a chief suspect in the Bali bomb blasts in October
which killed nearly 200 people.

They have also called him the prime suspect in a series of bombings that
killed 22 people in Manila on Dec. 30, 2000, and the bombing of the Jakarta
residence of Leonides Caday, the Philippine ambassador to Indonesia, in
August 2000.

But on Sunday, Gani took pains to say police weren't after the group,
although he said additional members may be called in for questioning. The
two suspects were identified as Suryadi and Muthdar Daeng Lau. Muthdar is
a member of Laskar Jundullah, he said.

"This investigation did not specifically target Laskar Jundullah," Gani said.
"These arrests were based on testimony from the 18 witnesses we've talked

Azwar Hasan, secretary general of Committee for the Establishment of
Shariah Law in Indonesia, which includes Laskar Jundullah, denied the
group was responsible and called on members to help with the police

"This is not true that our group was involved in the bombing," he said. "The
arrest of some members and accusations against our group has created
fear among our members."

Gani said that a third unidentified suspect may have been killed while
placing the bomb at McDonald's, based on an examination of the body.

"Our forensics team says the perpetrator was in the process of placing the
bomb," Gani said. "His legs, arms and face were badly hurt but his back
wasn't wounded at all."

National Police Chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar has said the bombs that exploded
in Makassar were different from those used in the Oct. 12 attacks on the
resort island of Bali. But he said police were not ruling out a link with the
Bali blasts and earlier bombings elsewhere in Indonesia which some foreign
governments have blamed on Jemaah Islamiyah.

Since the Bali bombings, many Western governments have expressed fears
of additional terrorist attacks on their citizens and issued travel warnings
about Indonesia.

Bomb blasts, however, have also become a deadly part of a running conflict
between Muslims and Christians on Sulawesi island, about 1,600 kilometers
(1,000 miles) northeast of Jakarta. Since 1999, nearly 2,000 people have
died in the fighting and tens of thousands have been left homeless.

A peace deal was signed late last year but clashes have increased in recent
months, including a string of bus bombs and raids on villages by bands of
armed men.