The body of a suspected terrorist lying near his motorcycle after he was shot by members of the police’s Densus 88 on Jalan Setiabudi in Pamulang, Tangerang. Dulmatin, a mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings, is believed to have beenkilled in a previous raid nearby. (JG Photo/Yudhi Sukma Wijaya)
Top Indonesian Terrorist Dulmatin Believed Slain by Police Gunfire
Fingerprint analysis has yet to establish a definitive identity, but antiterrorism police officers were already seen praising God and rejoicing on the outskirts of the capital on Tuesday, believing a man they shot dead during a fierce gun battle was Dulmatin, one of the masterminds of the 2002 Bali bombings that claimed 202 lives.
Regardless of whether the man killed in an unassuming shop in Tangerang was indeed one of the most wanted terrorists in Southeast Asia, the killing is being seen as a major victory in the country’s fight against terrorism.
“The man who was shot was an influential figure in the history of terrorism in Indonesia. He masterminded paramilitary drills in Jantho [Aceh],” said Brig. Gen. Tito Karnavian, the head of the Densus 88 antiterrorism unit.
Dulmatin, who has gone by a list of aliases, including Asmar Usman, Joko Pitono, Nova and Yahya Ibrohim, is the country’s most wanted terrorist fugitive after Malaysian national Noordin Mohamad Top was killed last September in a police raid.
“We thank God that the man we shot at the Multiplus shop-house [on Jalan Siliwangi in Pamulang] is Dulmatin. His ID card says that he is Yahya,” a source said.
Dulmatin is a leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist organization and an Al Qaeda-trained bomb-making specialist.
Ansyaad Mbai, the head of the antiterrorism desk at the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, said that if the man gunned down was Dulmatin, it will have “significant implications, because the terrorist organization would have lost a very vital figure.”
“He wanted to replace Noordin Top. He was being hunted down via massive operations in the southern Philippines where he had been hiding.”
The man was one of three people killed in two raids just before and after noon in Pamulang, South Tangerang, on Tuesday. Police confirmed later that they had also arrested three suspected militants in Pamulang, including a woman.
National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Edward Aritonang said police were forced to kill the man suspected to be Dulmatin.
“He had taken a shot at police. His revolver had five bullets in the magazine and seven bullets were found in his pockets,” Edward said.
The two others killed, identified only as R and H, were shot on Jalan Setiabudi 12, about a kilometer from the Multiplus business service center on Jalan Siliwangi, where the man believed to be Dulmatin was shot dead.
“The two were trying to escape on a Suzuki Thunder [motorcycle],” Edward said, adding that they pointed a gun at police.
After the shootings, police raided a house located on Asem, an alleyway not far from Jalan Setiabudi, and emerged with two men wearing only underwear.
“We believe that those captured today have terror links with the Aceh group. We, however, did not find any explosives on them or the places we raided today,” Edward said.
He added that a woman was later arrested.
“We can confirm that those arrested in Jakarta and West Java [over the weekend] were gun suppliers and financiers [of terrorist activities in Aceh], including the ones shot and captured in Pamulang,” Edward said, referring to the militant group in Aceh that police have been hunting in a massive operation since Feb. 22.
To date, 22 suspected terrorists have been captured in Aceh, West Java and Jakarta since the operation began. The latest suspect, a fisherman identified as Hendri Marlan Saputra, 28, was arrested in Muara Batu, North Aceh, on Tuesday.
Three policemen, two civilians and a suspected militant have been killed in the operation in Aceh so far.
When asked whether Tuesday’s arrests had anything to do with Jemaah Islamiyah, Edward said: “What is for sure is that this group has nothing to do with the separatist Free Aceh Movement [GAM] or its former members.”
GAM disbanded after a 2005 peace pact ended almost three decades of separatist conflict in Aceh.
All three captured in Pamulang were taken into police custody and are being interrogated at the headquarters of the National Police’s elite Mobile Brigade (Brimob) in Kelapa Dua, Depok.