The Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist group has been weakened following the police's series of raids and arrests, whether or not Noordin M. Top, the group's top recruiter and motivator, was killed during Saturday's siege, officers and observers have agreed.
However, most experts believe the police raid will only halt the group temporarily and, based on the group's excellent ability to recover and reorganize, it will be back in the game quickly.
"Noordin's death, if he has indeed been killed, will surely be a very big blow to JI. Even if he is not dead, police have severely damaged the group's cells," an expert from the University of Indonesia, Bantarto Bandoro, told The Jakarta Post here Sunday. Another expert, Dynno Chreesbon, agreed and said it would take at least a month for JI to regroup, whether or not Noordin was killed.
"JI members will lay low for a while, then they will regroup within a month or two. Their first priority will be to solidify the scattered cells and to evacuate the leaders, who are still at large, to places of safety as soon as possible," he said.
"JI, in its doctrine, has an agenda of at least one suicide bomb attack a year. JI laid low for about four years because its top bomb maker, Azahari, was killed, but now the group has found a new, proficient bomb maker," he said.
A man, suspected to be Noordin, was killed during a police raid on a house in a village in Temanggung, Central Java, on Saturday.
National Police chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri said Saturday that, although the police had yet to perform DNA tests to determine whether the man was Noordin, his men had almost wiped out the terrorists.
"We must be very careful as there are several other terrorists still on the run," he said.
However, Bantarto warned, the police should take into account that JI had been developing new young leaders and talent within its ranks.
"For example, one of the suicide bombers at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels turns out to be an 18-year-old. JI's regeneration has already been making progress and Noordin's replacement will be appointed eventually," he added.
The teenager to whom Bantarto is referring is Dani Dwi Permana, a resident of Bogor, West Java. Dani's neighbors said he became friendly with a man named Saifuddin Jaelani in the months before he blew himself up. Saifuddin left the neighborhood about a month before Dani killed himself. Police have classified him as a terrorist fugitive.
Police have apprehended or killed several JI members affiliated with Noordin's cell to date. Amir Abdillah, the man who rented room 1808 at the JW Marriott, was arrested on Thursday. Police also arrested Yayan and Hendra for their alleged involvement in the hotel bombings. Yayan and Hendra were said to be the next in line to blow themselves up. The police killed two JI members, Air Setiawan and Eko Sarjono, during the raid in Jatiasih, Bekasi. (hdt)