Wanted Indonesian terrorist Dulmatin thought killed in raid

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The body of the man believed to be Dulmatin. Image from Metro TV.

Indonesia’s counterterrorism police believe they have killed a top al Qaeda-linked terrorist during a raid outside the capital of Jakarta today.

Police believe that wanted terrorist and master bomb maker Dulmatin was killed during a shootout today at a home in the Jakarta suburb of Pamulang, Detik News reported. The home is said to be owned by a pediatrician named Dr. Fauzi, who is now wanted and on the run.

The suspect, thought to be Dulmatin, shot at officers from Indonesia’s elite counterterrorism police unit, Detachment 88, before being killed. Two other terror suspects were also killed in a shootout during a separate raid at the Multiplus Internet cafe in Pamulang.

Police are working to confirm that the person killed during the raid on the home was indeed Dulmatin; the confirmation may take up to two days, however. Dulmatin’s family has denied that he was killed during the raid.

According to Detik News, Dulmatin hides out in Jakarta and uses the alias Joko Pitono. He is said to have worked as a clothing vendor and reportedly gained a lot of weight.

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Wanted posters released by the Philippine government of Dulmatin and Jemaah Islamiyah commander Umar Patek. Both are thought to shelter with the Abu Sayyaf Group in the Philippines.

Dulmatin is wanted by the US for his role in masterminding the 2002 coordinated suicide and car bomb terror attacks at a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, that killed 202 people, including seven Americans. The US has posted a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture.

Dulmatin is regarded as one of the most dangerous commanders in Jemaah Islamiyah, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Indonesia. He attended al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan in the 1990s and is considered an electronics specialist and a master bomb maker. Dulmatin is also thought to be an expert in insurgency tactics.

Dulmatin has been considered the prime contender to replace Noordin Mohammed Top as the leader of the Tandzim al-Qaedat Indonesia, a splinter group that formed from Jemaah Islamiyah after the organization came under pressure by Indonesian police. Top was killed during a shootout with Detachment 88 in September 2009, leaving the group leaderless.

In recent times, Dulmatin is thought to have been sheltering in the Philippines with the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group. In February 2008, the Philippine military thought they found Dulmatin’s body in in a shallow grave on the island of Tawi-tawi. But Dulmatin later reappeared.

Over the past month, Detachment 88 has been conducting a series of raids against Jemaah Islamiyah in Java and in the western province of Aceh. The Pamulang cell, which was raided yesterday and today, provided finances and support to the large Jehmaah Islamiyah cell discovered last month in Aceh. A total of 22 suspected terrorists have been captured in Aceh since Feb. 22. On Feb. 25, Police detained four suspected terrorists during a raid on a training camp in the province of Aceh. More than 50 terrorists were thought to be training at the camp, which has been linked to al Qaeda affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah. Police found weapons, uniforms, and terrorist propaganda at the camp.

On March 6, a group calling itself “al Qaeda in Aceh” released a statement on the Internet saying it has eluded Detachment 88’s efforts to dismantle it and would continue waging jihad. This is the first time Al Qaeda in Aceh has made a public statement.

“As of the 10th day of the pursuit against us, we survive to continue jihad although some of our brothers were captured and martyred,” the statement said, according to The Associated Press. “We hereby assure Muslims that we will uphold our pledge to jihad against the Zionist Jews and Christians and apostates until God awards us victory, or we become martyrs in the way of Allah.”

The group also released a videotape via the Internet, which was described by Nick Grace as “quite pitiful” and “a desperate plea for money.”

“The ‘media division’ of the Jemaah Islamiyah cell posted a statement and video over the weekend which paints a sad and sorry picture of the group,” said Grace, who contributes to The Long War Journal and tracks developments in Indonesia closely. “They look malnourished and unsure of themselves. The hour-long video, which I watched, is a desperate plea for money. At one point one of the speakers cries into the camera, ‘You give ikan asin (dried and salty fish) to cats and dogs. Why not give it to us instead! We will accept any help!'”

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

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3 Comments

  • Tyler says:

    Certainly looks like him.
    Gotta hand it to the Indonesia. When they claim someone is dead, they actually try and do some hard work to prove it. Broadcast his image, DNA tests, etc. etc. Very refreshing.
    They’re not batting 1.000, but it beats the heck out of ‘well a lot of Taliban surrounded the building so the HVT must therefore be dead.’ ‘His name kind of, sorta sounds like a guy with a million dollar reward on his head so we’ll go ahead and say he’s captured.’

  • Bill Roggio says:

    My thoughts exactly Tyler. Police botched the initial ID of Top last fall, but they were very open about it. And then they bagged him a month later.
    Indonesia has made very impressive gains against JI. Bashir and the organization’s political arm remain in the wings and are a long term threat, but Detachment 88 really has the military arm under the gun. Literally.

  • davidp says:

    Well done detachment 88. The terrorist arm of JI seems to have mostly been the group of people who went to Afghanistan in the 80’s – 90’s, and they are running out of those leaders. The internal jihad arm sends fighters to attack non-muslims in Ambon, Sulawesi and West Papua. I have heard little about the Indonesian government doing anything about that. West Papua is suffering from increasing numbers of jihadis.

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