Al-Qaeda worked with locals on Bali bombings’

Indonesian intelligence sources said investigations into the devasting Oct 12 Bali bombings indicate strongly that an Al-Qaeda-led team of foreign and local bomb-makers were behind the attack.

Police yesterday also said they were closing in on the suspects after a raid on a house uncovered a photograph that matched a sketch of a suspect.

Sources in the state intelligence agency BIN told The Straits Times yesterday that there was a strong possibility that operatives of the network linked to Osama bin Laden worked with ‘local facilitators’ like the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) to carry out the bombings, which resulted in the deaths of 191 people.

A senior agency official, dismissing speculation that local extremist groups or rogue military elements carried out the operation, said:

‘We see very little chance of domestic elements being the mastermind of such an attack. They are not sophisticated enough to carry out an attack of this scale alone. This has all the imprints of Al-Qaeda in terms of motivation, target and execution.’

His comments came in the wake of a Financial Times report that said the Al-Qaeda network trained foreign bomb-makers to carry out the Bali attack. It cited detained Al-Qaeda member Mohamed Mansour Jabara as saying that they were trained in Afghanistan at the Abu Khabbab camp – the network’s main explosives and non-conventional weapons training camp.

Authorities in Jakarta are not ruling out that some Indonesians could also have been trained in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The Financial Times report said that in mid-January this year, an Al-Qaeda bomber identified only as Saad attended a meeting in Thailand between the bomb-makers and members of the JI group.

But Al-Qaeda’s own bombers may have been used in the Bali attack as previous operations planned by JI in the region with minimal outside help had failed.

Indeed, the director-general of security of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Mr Denis Richardson, said on Thursday that Canberra was ‘confident that the hand of Al-Qaeda is somewhere in that atrocity’.

Meanwhile, Indonesian police chief Da’i Bachtiar said police found a photograph of one of three Bali suspects during a raid. He did not disclose where the raid took place but said police were making progress and that the suspects were believed to be in hiding in Malang, East Java.

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