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Terror mastermind likely hiding in Java: anti-terror chief

world Updated: Sep 03, 2009 19:16 IST

The most-wanted Islamist mastermind allegedly behind deadly July suicide bombings in Jakarta is likely hiding out on Indonesia's main island of Java, a top anti-terror fighter said on Thursday.

Malaysian Noordin Mohammed Top, one of Asia's most-wanted militants, is believed to have chosen to stay on the densely populated island despite a nationwide manhunt, security ministry anti-terror chief Ansyaad Mbai told AFP.

Noordin was believed to have narrowly escaped a massive police raid in Central Java in August.

"We're sure Noordin is in Indonesia, basically in Java," Mbai said.

"Even sometimes he has gone out of Java but he always comes back. Basically there are groups in Java that support him... his favourite place is Central Java."

Noordin, 41, who heads a violent splinter faction of the radical Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) network, is suspected of being behind July 17 double suicide attacks on Jakarta's JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels.

The bombings, which killed seven people including six foreigners, were the first attack in Indonesia in nearly four years.