JAKARTA, Indonesia – International suspicion focused on a Malaysian accountant-turned-bombmaker as the instigator of a pair of hotel blasts in Jakarta on Friday that may signal the re-emergence of deadly attacks by Southeast Asian groups affiliated with al-Qaida, according to counterterrorism officials and analysts.
Noordin Mohammad Top, regarded as the ideological leader of the most violent wing of the terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, drew almost immediate suspicion because of his presumed involvement in attacks between 2002 and 2005, including bombings in Bali and Jakarta, and more recent militant activity, officials said.
The region’s first significant attack in four years also generated suspicion of others in the sprawling network of militant cells known collectively as “JI.”
Those include other top commanders as well as hard-liners released recently from Southeast Asia prisons, the officials said.
At least eight people were killed in the attacks Friday on the high-rise J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels, which stand side-by-side in a fashionable business district frequented by Westerners.
More than 50 people were injured in the attacks, including at least eight Americans.
The State Department said no Americans were known to be among those killed.