Hooded militant warns West of more attacks

A hooded Islamic militant thought to be one of Asia’s most wanted men has warned Western nations to expect more attacks in a video found in his slain colleague’s hideout and aired in Indonesia.

A balaclava-clad man, believed by Vice President Jusuf Kalla to be Malaysian Noordin Mohammad Top, threatened Western nations in a recording recovered from the bomb-packed hideout of his partner in crime Azahari Husin, reports said on Thursday.

Noordin and Azahari have been accused of being top members of Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional extremist network linked to al-Qaeda and blamed for the Bali 2002 bombings and a string of other bloody attacks and attempted attacks in Southeast Asia.

“Accidents and terror by mujahedin [holy warriors] will continue to take place as long as Western countries deploy their soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the man said in the video, according to the Detikcom online news service.

The man, his index finger stabbing the air to accentuate his points, threatened to attack the United States, Britain, Australia and Italy, countries which he said were “enemies of Islam,” Media Indonesia newspaper reported.

States supporting United States President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and in particular Australia, would all be potential targets, he warned.

“These threats are also valid for all states that assist Bush and Blair. Especially for Australia, as long as its troops are in Afghanistan and Iraq and engage in intimidation there, you will also feel our intimidation,” the man said.

The video, the first of its kind by Southeast Asian militants found by authorities, was shown to several Muslim leaders invited by Kalla to his residence late on Wednesday, the daily reported.

Police have launched a massive hunt for Noordin after his compatriot Azahari was killed in a shootout with police at his hideaway in East Java on November 9.

Australia vowed that it would not be cowed.

“Noordin Top is the most wanted terrorist in Southeast Asia and no democratic country like Australia should be intimidated by a fanatic like Noordin Top,” Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer told reporters in Adelaide.

“We have to make it perfectly clear that whatever these people do, whatever threats they make, we have got the strength and courage to stand up to that.”

Azahari’s body was flown out of Indonesia on Thursday for a Muslim burial in Malaysia, after police here performed Islamic rites over it.

Scores of people gathered at Azahari’s family home in Malaysia’s southern state of Malacca state ahead of his burial later on Thursday night.

Bali Police Chief I Made Mangku Pastika told reporters in Jakarta that three suspected militants arrested in Central Java last week were being questioned over their role in the October 1 triple suicide bombings in Bali, which killed 20 bystanders.

“They are people that had direct contacts with Azahari and Noordin Top. They are certainly also linked to the Bali bombs,” Pastika said.

Police have named the three as Cholily alias Yahya alias Hasan, Anif alias Pendek and Abdul Aziz.

In the South Korean city of Busan for a summit of Asian Pacific leaders, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono vowed to hunt Noordin down.

“We will relentlessly hunt down the many terrorist groups who are now on the run, including Azahari’s key accomplice Noordin Mohammad Top,” Yudhoyono said.

Vice President Kalla was due to show 18 prominent Islamic leaders and scholars the video footage late on Thursday at his residence in Jakarta, in a bid to enlist their support in preventing recruitment into extremist groups, said his media officer.
- AFP

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