Indonesian Bomb Expert Dulmatin is likely Killed
Posted February 19, 2008on:
ZAMBOANGA, Philippines.Moderat. Dulmatin, also known as Joko Pitono and nicknamed Genius, is widely believed to be a senior member of the shadowy Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiah (JI). Dumatin, an Islamic militant wanted in connection with the deadly 2002 Bali bombings and with links to Al-Qaeda, is believed to have been killed in the Philippines. Major General Ben Dolorfino said on February 19, 2008 said the body of a man thought to be Indonesian bomb expert Dulmatin, one of those behind the nightclub attacks that killed hundreds, was recovered from a shallow grave in the island of Tawi-tawi. “As of now, we are conducting DNA test to confirm if it is really his body,” said Dolorfino, adding that an informant had led them to the grave.
Rear Admiral Emilio Marayag, head of naval forces in the region said that teams from the United States’ FBI and the Philippine police crime laboratory had already arrived in the southern city of Zamboanga to conduct the DNA tests. Samples from Dulmatin’s body would be compared with samples taken from his children who were recovered in the southern Philippines last May. Major Eugene Batara, the spokesman of military forces in the south, said the DNA tests would likely take about a week.
The US government has offered a 10 million dollar bounty for Dulmatin, who has been hiding out in the southern Philippines with local militants for most of the past five years. Washington gave the same amount of money to Thailand in 2003, for its part in the arrest of Hambali – dubbed by the Central Intelligence Agency as the “Osama Bin Laden” of South East Asia. Dulmatin, a senior figure in the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terror movement, was reported to have been wounded in a clash with government troops in the south on January 31. The recovered body bore gunshot wounds in the head, chest and right foot, consistent with earlier accounts of Dulmatin’s injuries in the gunfight, Dolorfino said, adding that this bolstered their belief that the body was that of the Indonesian. Dolorfino said that if the body is indeed that of Dulmatin, then “this is a big blow to them (JI) as he is the most wanted personality in the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah,” in the Philippines. The body has been taken to Zamboanga and once enough samples are taken, it will be given a “decent burial” in Zamboanga, said Batara. The suspect had helped plan and carry out the 2002 bombings in Bali that left 202 people — many of them Australian tourists — dead. Dulmatin is an Indonesian national from a wealthy family who is believed to be one of JI’s top bomb makers.
An Indonesian national born in central Java in 1970, Dulmatin originally worked as a car salesman. The exact time he became interested in militant activity is unknown. But he is widely believed to have been the protégé of Azahari Husin, one of the suspected masterminds of the 2002 Bali attacks and other bombings, who was killed by police in 2005. Dulmatin is not thought to have had any formal scientific training, but he appears to have gained significant technical skills, supposedly under the guidance of Azahari.
According to the Asia Pacific Foundation, Dulmatin was among the few JI militants able to assemble and explode large chlorate and nitrate bombs. Dulmatin is also known to have attended a militant training camp in Afghanistan, returning to Indonesia in the mid 1990s, where he is thought to have been a regular visitor at an Islamic school in Solo founded by Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, the man alleged to be JI’s spiritual leader. Ba’asyir was jailed for conspiracy over the 2002 Bali attacks, though he was later cleared of the offence.
Dulmatin first became internationally known when named as a key suspect for the bomb attacks at two nightclubs in Bali on 12 October 2002. A total of 202 people died in the attacks, many of them foreign tourists. He is believed to have set off one of the bombs with a mobile phone, as well as making explosive vests for a suicide bomber and working alongside Azahari to assemble the massive car bomb used in the attacks. Like Azahari and his suspected accomplice Noordin Mohamed Top, some analysts believe Dulmatin has also been involved in other bomb attacks in East Asia, but there is little direct evidence of this.
In fact, since 2003 he is believed to have been based in the southern Philippines, involved in training other militants at secret camps. In 2005, he was thought to have been killed in a targeted air strike by the Philippine military, but the information turned out to be wrong. In January 2007, the Philippines army said he had been injured during a gun battle between troops and Abu Sayyaf militants, though it was not clear if he was seriously hurt. According to regional analysts, there are fears that Dulmatin and other JI operatives, notably Umar Patek, have formed an alliance with the Abu Sayyaf, the smallest and most radical of the Islamic separatist groups in the southern Philippines.
Abu Sayyaf – the smallest and most radical of the Islamic separatist groups in the southern Philippines – is believed to be providing protection and assistance to (for) JI members in return for bomb-making expertise and training. US troops and military advisers have been in the southern Philippines for more than a year providing training and intelligence for the Philippine military hunting JI extremists and their local partners the Abu Sayyaf. Dulmatin and fellow JI Bali bomber Umar Patek have been hiding in the southern Philippines since 2003 with supporters of the Abu Sayyaf.
In another development, Philippine troops arrested an Indonesian man and his local Muslim hosts during a raid on an remote southern area being monitored for possible Islamic militant activity, officials said. The Indonesian, known to his neighbours as Salman, was detained Sunday in an army raid on the home of a local Muslim man in the village of Piso on Mindanao island, said Dequincio Pante, police chief of Banaybanay town. A senior military source described the arrest of the Indonesian as a “major” achievement, but said he could not provide details about the case without top-level authorisation. It was not clear if this incident was linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah.