The National Police’s Densus 88 antiterror squad has apprehended a fugitive wanted in connection to the first Bali bombing who was on the run for 18 years.
A special task force detained Zulkarnaen, 57, in Purbolinggo, East Lampung, on Dec. 10, the police announced over the weekend.
“We have arrested without resistance [the fugitive] on the wanted list,” National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Argo Yuwono said, as quoted by kompas.com.
Zulkarnaen, who went by other names, including Aris Sumarsono, Daud, Zaenal Arifin and Abdulrahman, held a key role in the first Bali bombing in 2002.
“Zulkarnaen was the Jamaah Islamiyah [JI] military commander during the first Bali bombing,” the police spokesman said, in reference to the Al-Qaeda-linked extremist network that masterminded the 2002 attack.
On Oct. 12 of that year, three bombs exploded at Paddy’s Pub and the Sari Club in Kuta, Bali, killing 202 people and injuring 209 more. Among the deceased were 164 foreigners from 24 countries. Bombs also exploded on Jl. Hayam Wuruk in Denpasar, near the United States Consulate General, but did not cause any casualties.
Zulkarnaen is alleged to have hidden Upik Lawangan, also known as Taufik Bulaga or Udin, from the authorities.
Upik was known for his ability to create highly explosive bombs and was thought to be the successor of Azahari Husin, the Malaysian technical mastermind of the first Bali bombing.
Azahari died during a Densus 88 raid at his hideout in Batu, near Malang, East Java on Nov. 9, 2005.
Zulkarnaen’s arrest comes just weeks after Densus 88 arrested Upik in Central Lampung regency on Nov. 23.
Indonesia's counterterrorism squad, Densus 88, was created in the wake of the 2002 Bali Bombings to quash JI and similar groups in the country.
A senior member of JI, Zulkarnaen was the leader of the group’s paramilitary force. He also served as a terrorist trainer in Afghanistan for seven years, according to police records.
He allegedly set up JI’s special task force, known as the Khos unit, which was responsible for the Bali bombings, as well as conflicts in Poso, Central Sulawesi, and Ambon, Maluku. According to Densus 88 investigations, he was involved in several riots in Ambon, Ternate and Poso from 1998 to 2000.
The Sragen, Central Java, native allegedly masterminded a number of terrorist attacks in the country, including the bombing of the Philippine Embassy in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Aug. 1, 2000.
Another police spokesman, Sr. Comr. Ahmad Ramadhan, said that his role was not limited to the first Bali bombing and that he was involved in the 2001 Christmas bombing of churches and the New Year’s Eve bombing the following year.
“He was also involved in the first JW Marriott bombing in 2003, the 2004 Australian Embassy bombing and the second Bali bombing in 2005,” Ramadhan said.
Indonesia scrambled to tighten its antiterrorism laws after a series of suicide bombings killed more than 30 people in Surabaya, East Java, last year. Hundreds of people have been detained under the new laws since the beginning of 2019. (ami)