DNA shows body of slain militant not Noordin Muhammad Top
JAKARTA, Indonesia – A suspected militant slain during a 16-hour siege with counterterrorism forces last week was not Indonesia‘s most-wanted militant Noordin Muhammad Top, police said Wednesday.
Tests comparing the body’s DNA with members of Noordin’s family came back negative, said Eddy Saparwoko, head of the national police victim identification unit.
Noordin, a Malaysian, has been blamed for a series of deadly al-Qaida-funded attacks in Indonesia since 2003 and is the prime suspect in twin suicide hotel bombings in on July 17 that killed seven people.
Last month’s attacks ended a four-year lull in, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. Bombings have killed more than 250 people in Indonesia since 2002, most of them on the resort island of Bali, where a 2002 attack killed 202 people.
“The DNA test didn’t match with Noordin’s family,” Saparwoko told a nationally televised press conference Wednesday.
Local media had reported that Noordin, a self-proclaimed al-Qaida commander who has eluded capture in Indonesian and Malaysia since 2001, was slain in a gunbattle with security forces.
But Saparwoko said the man who died in the shootout at a farmhouse in central Java on Saturday was a florist, identified only as Ibrohim. He made floral arrangements at the J.W. Marriott Hotel and Ritz-Carlton, where attacked last month during breakfast, killing themselves and wounding more than 50 others.
Chief national police spokesman Nanan Sukarna identified Ibrohim as “a planner and arranger of the bombings” and said that five other suspects in the blasts remain at large, including Noordin.
Ibrohim, who worked in the hotels at least two years prior to the July bombings, began scouting the targets three months in advance and smuggled explosives in through a basement cargo dock a day before the strikes, Nanan said, showing newly-released security camera footage.
The grainy images show a lone man driving a small pickup truck into the J.W. Marriott Hotel and unloading what police said were three containers of explosives, apparently after skirting all security checks.
The video also showed Ibrohim leading the suicide bombers, one of them an 18-year-old high school graduate, through the hotels on July 8, apparently in a rehearsal for the attacks plotted from two rented safe houses on the outskirts of the capital, Jakarta.
“We know him. He worked as a third-party florist,” said Allan Orlob, head of security for the U.S.-owned J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton 5-star hotels.
Ibrohim resigned the morning of the bombings, Orlob told The Associated Press on Wednesday, and left only a letter to his employer in which he asked that part of his last pay check be used to repay several people who loaned him money.
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