National Police chief General Bambang Hendarso Danuri has confirmed that terrorist ring leader Noordin M Top was spotted at Muhammad Jahri's house in Temanggung, Central Java, hours before the police raided it on Aug. 7.
Bambang's statement confirms speculation that Noordin had spent the night at the house.
Bambang hinted that the police have been close to arresting Noordin. A source close to the police however said they were in the dark as to Noordin's whereabouts.
"That is why they stir public opinion over funding of the bombings instead of focusing on hunting Noordin," the source said.
"He *Noordin* was there with Tono, one of his bodyguards, Syaifuddin Zuhri bin Djaelani Irsyad and Ibrohim, alias Boim, who was later found dead," Bambang said before the House of Representatives on Monday.
Syaifudin Zuhri bin Djaelani Irsyad, who is believed to be a recruiter for a terrorist group, is wanted by police. It is believed that Dani Dwi Permana and Nana Ichwan Maulana, the two suicide bombers who attacked two Jakarta hotels on July 17, were recruited by Zuhri.
Bambang said the information about Noordin was uncovered by police surveillance. "Then it was strengthened by the testimonies provided by Aris and Hendra, who were nabbed later on," he said.
However, Bambang did not elaborate further on how Noordin, Tono and Syaiful Zuhri managed to escape the police.
The police raided the house in Temanggung after receiving information terrorists were staying there.
However, after a 17-hour attack, the only body found in the house belonged to Ibrohim, an employee of the Jw Marriott Hotel accused of smuggling bomb making materials used in the attacks. "But it is just a matter of time. We are convinced that we will apprehend Noordin, dead or alive," a police officer, who requested anonymity, said shortly after the raid.
Psychoanalyst Mardigu WP said the decision by Noordin and his accomplices to flee the safe house was entirely understandable.
"It is in line with the al-Qaeda guidebook, which they use," he said.
He added that the guidebook says one should leave a safe house if a colleagues fails to show up on time.
"So it was quite likely that Noordin decided to leave the house once he found that Aris and Hendra failed to come on time," he added.
Since the latest bombings, the police have arrested Mohamad Jibril, alias Muhammad Jibriel Abdul Rahman, alias Mohamad Rizky Ardhan, and a Saudi Arabian national by the name of Ali Muhammad bin Abdullah, alias Al Khalil Ali, who are accused of delivering money to finance the recent attacks.