A man believed to be the emir, or top leader, of the South-east Asia terror group Jemaah Islamiah (JI) has been arrested after a 16-year-long hunt.
Para Wijayanto, who is in his mid-50s, is said to have been the emir of the JI outfit, dubbed by counter-terrorism experts as “neo-JI”, since 2008, after replacing former leader Abu Husna, who was arrested in Malaysia that same year and later deported to Indonesia.
Para Wijayanto was captured just after 6am last Saturday in Bekasi, Beritasatu.com reported yesterday, citing a police source. The town is about 25km south-east of Jakarta.
Following his arrest, police took him to a house he rented in a residential complex in Cibinong, West Java province, where 10 sharp weapons, books, a mobile phone and a video camera were seized.
“He is the emir of Jemaah Islamiah, which has been declared a terrorist organisation and is banned,” Beritasatu.com quoted a police officer as saying.
The JI network was behind Indonesia’s most deadly attack, in Bali in 2002 – in which more than 200 people were killed – and the 2009 attacks on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta.
Beritasatu.com reported that Para Wijayanto first emerged on the police radar in 2003, over his role in several terror attacks, including the Bali bombings.
“Para Wijayanto has, since 2003, been on the run, but he is still active in Jemaah Islamiah or Neo-Jemaah Islamiah. He had knowledge and gave nods to members of Jemaah Islamiah who wanted to travel to Syria,” the website quoted the police official as saying.
The JI network is affiliated to Al-Qaeda, which oversees Jabhat al-Nusra, a terror organisation fighting Syrian government forces in the Syrian civil war.
National police spokesman Inspector-General Muhammad Iqbal did not confirm the arrest when contacted by Beritasatu.com.