Southeast Asia’s most wanted terrorist killed in Java raid


A photo of Noordin Mohammed Top after he was killed during a raid in Java. The photo was taken with a cell phone. Photo provided by Nick Grace.

Southeast Asia’s most wanted al Qaeda-linked terrorist has been killed during an overnight raid by counterterrorism police in Solo in Central Java, Indonesia. Police have confirmed that the elusive Noordin Mohammed Top has been killed along with four other terrorists during the assault on a safe house in Java.

Police had stepped up efforts to kill or capture Top after the July 2009 bombings at two posh hotels in Java. He was previously thought to have been killed during an assault on a safe house in Central Java in early August.


Wanted posters for Syaifudin Zuhri, Mohamad Syahrir, Bagus Budi Pranoto and Ario Sudarso. Photo provided by Nick Grace.

Within the past 24 hours, Indonesia’s elite counterterrorism police unit Detachment 88 (Densus 88) shot and killed Top along with three other associates. During the raid, police acquired two laptops and documents, which they said confirm that all four terrorists who were killed during the raid comprised the leadership of al Qaeda in Southeast Asia. Police chief Bambang Hendarso Danuri suggested in a press conference today that the documents picked up in Solo show that they wiped out most of al Qaeda in Southeast Asia’s senior leadership in this raid.

Wanted terrorists Bagus Budi Pranoto, Ario Sudarso, and Hadi Susilo were killed with Top, Metro TV reported. Pranoto and Sudarso are believed to have been Top’s right-hand men. Saifuddin Zuhri and Muhammad Sahrir, two other top terrorists, are being hunted by police.

The Indonesian press is showing photos of Top’s body and the commentary is focusing on the fact that his eyes were closed and his mouth was open at the moment of death – unlike Ibrohim, the florist-terrorist involve int he July bombings in Jakarta who was killed in the police raid in Temanggung in August. The insinuation is that Noordin was such a coward that not only did he not blow himself up, despite having active bombs available at the safe house – but that he winced and closed his eyes when he was killed by Detachment 88 oficers.

Top, a Malaysian national, was a senior leader in Jemaah Islamiyah. He was known as a highly effective recruiter, strategist, and fundraiser, and was behind the most deadly terror attacks in Indonesia. He masterminded the October 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people and injured 209; the August 2003 Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta; the September 2004 bombing of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta; and the October 2005 Bali bombings. Most recently, Top planned and supervised the near-simultaneous suicide attacks at the JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta.


Latest police sketch of wanted terrorist Noordin Mohammed Top, who was killed during a raid in central Java in Indonesia. Click image for more pictures from the raid that killed Top.

In late 2005, Top formed a splinter group from Jemaah Islamiyah after several disagreements over the use of violence arose with other leaders. He became the emir of Tandzim al-Qaedat Indonesia. While ties between Top’s group and al Qaeda have not yet been confirmed, his group has run Web forums that have collaborated with Jihadi forums known to be associated with al Qaeda. One such forum released an Indonesian-language propaganda video with the well-known al-Ekhlaas Forum in early 2008.

Nick Grace contributed to this report.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

Tags: ,


  • Tyler says:

    Wow. The hits just keep on coming.

  • Stu says:

    Significant hit! Excellent work by Indonesian counter-terrorism forces! News of documents and computers should provide leads to other bad guys.

  • Tyler says:

    So, in a little over a month the leaders of the Pakistani Taliban, Al Qaeda Indonesia, the RSM, Islamic Jihad Union have all been killed or captured. Dead too is Al Qaeda’s key link to al-Shabaab in Somalia and several of his cohorts. Neutralized as well are important leaders of the Swat Taliban, Abu Sayyaf, and perhaps at least one member of Al Qaeda Central’s Shura Council in al Jaziri. Many of these takedowns occurring in just the past three weeks, even in just the past week and a half.
    I get the sense something beyond the usual aggressive hunt for global jihadists is at play here. Perhaps a strategic decision to hit them all at once for maximum organizational damage (Godfather-style), or a big intelligence coup that lead to the doors of Al Qaeda’s global network. We were supposedly following Nabhan for a long time…maybe as he was making Sat phone calls to Pakistan and Indonesia…

  • Nissonic says:

    Was all of this just a sudden burst of luck? I mean why have anti-terrorism been so succesfull these past weeks?
    I have three questions regarding this:
    1. Do the coallition forces have some mould that has infiltrated or jumped ship to save his own neck that provide the anti terrorist forces these information.
    2. Do all the anti terrorist forces like US, Indonesia and so on collaborate with each other and have been waiting for the right moment to strike? The moment being now as seen from the results.
    3. Has some database network or telephone network been broke or hacked as you know the location of all the foes?

  • Nick Grace says:

    Noordin’s cell is believed to have reestablished contacts with AQ sources through the Internet via Mohammed Jibril, who was a member of the Ghuraba cell in Pakistan in the late 90s and also ran and Jihadmagz magazine. However, the degree to which there was any collaboration or direction is unknown. It is suspected that Jibril facilitated the transfer of monies from the Middle East to Noordin for use for the July 17 attacks and possibly the planned Aug 17 attacks that Detachment 88 disrupted last month.

  • Neo says:

    “Was all of this just a sudden burst of luck?”

  • Dody Gunawinata says:

    Detachment 88, the main Indonesian Police anti terrorism unit is a US State Department and CIA project. Indonesia has been pretty successful in rolling up various JI cells since Bali 2002 bombing including open courts convictions.
    Indonesia also works pretty closely with the Australian Federal Police. Our HUMINT asset is pretty good on the ground but for electronic surveillance and equipments, we rely on the Aussies.

  • Minnor says:

    Oh man, flurry of good news these days.. Keep ’em coming!
    So the terrorism will end by this decade, likely.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram