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Indonesia Breaks Up Terror Cell

Indonesia's elite anti-terror squad, Detachment 88, broke up a suspected terror cell on July 1 in south Sumatra and, according to local press reports, may have captured terror fugitive Mas Slamet Kastari.

The terror cell, according to Indonesian intelligence expert Dyno Cresbon in an interview with Tribun Batam, was being watched for over a year and had just begun to practice building bombs. "Noordin M. Top," he said, "after witnessing the disruption of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) cells in Java and the death of (bomb maker) Dr. Azahari in Malang, began going after new cadre outside of Java. He decided to move his efforts to the Mantiqi II area in order to spawn the birth of a new generation of JI."

The geographic structure of JI is built upon regional commands called "Mantiqi." Mantiqi II covers Singapore, Malaysia and Sumatra.

Tuesday's raids in Palembang netted a total of 9 suspects, Tempo Interaktif reports. Other reports put the total at 7 suspects.

According to Detik News, the raids began after the arrest in of an English teacher from Semarang, Central Java, who also has a Singaporean work permit. He led investigators to a rented house in the Kecamatan Ilir section of Palembang where a cache of weapons and bombmaking materials were discovered. The cache included 50 kg TNT, 10 guns, 4 fully assembled bombs, plastics, plaster, cabling and various electronic devices.

The house had been rented to two 23-year old men, Wahyu and Nanang (aka Fauzi). Wahyu, neighbors said, was quiet, reserved and a frequent visitor to the community mosque and gado-gado vendor. Sources have told Radio Elshinta that both men are proteges of Mas Slamet Kastari, a Javanese-born JI commander who recently escaped from detention in Singapore.

The arrest of Wahyu and Nanang led authorities to an Internet cafe, where two women were interrogated. The women, identified in the press only by their initials, denied that they knew anything about a terror cell.

Detachment 88 also raided the house of the head of the local branch of the Anti-Vice Activities Forum (Forum Anti Kegiatan Permurtadan), Fauzi, and took two Nokia mobile phones. Fauzi also denied to the press any involvement with terrorism. "I am shocked that my house was raided," he told Detik News, "I wasn't even home and my wife was alone there."

Police spokesman Abubakar Nataprawira refused to provide specific details in a press conference late Tuesday night, however, he confirmed that suspects have been detained. There is suspicion, according to Radio Elshinta, that Kastari had taken refuge at one of the raided locations and that he could even have been captured.