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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 November 2005, 14:20 GMT
Bali bomb maker's luck runs out
House in Malang where Azahari Husin was killed - 10/11/05
Azahari was tracked to a run-down house in eastern Java
After several narrow escapes and years of living on the run, Malaysian bomb maker Azahari Husin's luck finally ran out at a suburban villa in eastern Indonesia.

Surrounded by an elite anti-terrorism unit, the bespectacled former academic was killed either by a police bullet or by a bomb triggered by an accomplice.

The body of one of Asia's most wanted men, accused of building the bombs which killed 202 people in Bali in 2002, was shredded, police said.

"The condition of Azahari's corpse is that it was severed around the legs and torso," according to Indonesian police chief General Sutanto.

"He was not able to reach the button (of a bomb) because officers shot him first, but the other one was able to commit a suicide bombing, " he said.

It is not yet clear what exactly led police to the run-down house Azahari had rented in the town of Batu, east of the capital Jakarta.

But the link probably came from investigations into the 1 October bomb attacks on the island of Bali, which killed 20 people.

Indonesian police appeared to be making slow progress tracking the perpetrators, or identifying three suicide bombers whose heads were found soon afterwards.

But on Thursday, after Azahari's death was confirmed, Bali police chief I Made Mangku Pastika said the identities of two of the men had been known for some time, but had been kept secret while they followed up leads to Azahari.

According to Indonesian and Australian police, one of the men's identities led them to the house in Batu, and they had had it under surveillance for 10 days before they moved on Tuesday.

Azahari and his two accomplices - who on at least two previous occasions have slipped away from encroaching police, sometimes with only minutes to spare - this time left it too late.

Radical past

Azahari Husin was born in Malaysia around 1957, and at least until the mid 1990s, lived a conventional life.

Azahari Bin Husin (left, photo: AFP) and Noordin Mohamed Top (photo: AP)
Azahari Husin (left) is dead, but key militant Noordin Mohamed Top remains at large

He studied in Australia for four years, gained a doctorate in land management from the UK's University of Reading in 1990, then returned to Malaysia, where he and his wife - who by now had two young children - became lecturers at a university in Johor.

But at some stage during the 1990s, Azahari came into contact with radical Islamic group Jemaah Islamiah (JI) and its leader Hambali - later dubbed Asia's most wanted man, and now in US custody at an unknown location.

JI's goal is the establishment of an Islamic state in Indonesia and other parts of South East Asia. At first its members advocated using largely peaceful means, but in the mid-1990s the group took on a more violent edge.

There has also been speculation that Azahari became fervently religious at about the same time, brought about by his wife's diagnosis with throat cancer.

Whatever the reason for his transformation into a militant, Azahari is believed to have received training in bomb making in Afghanistan and the southern Philippines over the next few years, before fleeing Malaysia in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US.

Fearing a crackdown on Islamic militants, Azahari and other members of JI went into hiding in Indonesia, where he has been on the run ever since.

Deadly trail

Despite regular police operations to try and locate him, Azahari and others were able to launch at least four major bombing attacks.

Jakarta blast scene
Azahari was accused of planning the 2003 Marriott bombing as well

The most deadly was the 2002 bombing of Bali, when JI and its operations first gained widespread attention.

Azahari was named in court as a bomb-maker in those attacks by one of the men eventually tried and convicted for the attacks, Ali Imron.

Indonesian police also believe he was behind the 2003 attack on Jakarta's JW Marriott hotel which killed 11 people, and one on the Australian embassy in 2004 which killed 10.

As the attacks continued, the Indonesian media dubbed Azahari "demolition man", because of his bomb making prowess.

Analysts said Azahari's death would be a serious setback to the campaign of violence staged by JI.

But other senior members of the group remain at large, including another experienced bomb-maker, Dulmatin, and the group's financier and recruiter, Noordin Mohamed Top.

And Indonesian and other security officials will be disappointed Azahari was not captured alive, since his interrogation could have yielded the names of his supporters and recruits in what is a very shadowy organisation.

He is widely believed to have given bomb-making classes to JI militants, and some of those recruits are assumed to be still at large.


SEE ALSO
Bali bomb maker confirmed dead
10 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Jemaah Islamiah split but still deadly
03 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Bali death toll set at 202
19 Feb 03 |  Asia-Pacific

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