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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 09:56 GMT
Bali bomber 'heads new group'
In this picture released by Indonesian police on Nov. 3, 2003, Malaysian terror suspect Noordin Mohamed Top is shown.
Noordin Mohammad Top narrowly escaped a police raid in November
An Islamic militant wanted for a string of attacks across Indonesia has claimed to be leader of a previously unknown group, Indonesian police have said.

Police said Noordin Mohammad Top described himself as head of Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad, covering Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines.

Analysts say he could have split from the group he was previously associated with, Jemaah Islamiah (JI).

JI has been blamed for the devastating Bali 2002 attacks, among others.

Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad translates as Organisation for the Base of Jihad.

It is not clear what the group stands for, although jihad in this context means holy war, and the use of Qaedat suggests an ideological connection with the militant group al-Qaeda.

Indonesian police chief Sutanto told reporters the information came to light after police interviewed several suspects and witnesses following the latest attack on Bali, last October.

"In his own account related to the Bali bombings on October 1, 2005, Noordin M Top said that he was the leader of the Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad for the Malay island group, which includes Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines and parts of several other Asian countries," Gen Sutanto said.

'Split with JI'

He gave no further details of the organisation.

Analysts have speculated that Malaysian national Noordin Mohammad Top has drifted away from the main JI structure due to a disagreement about attacks on "soft targets", which often kill civilian bystanders.

Noordin Mohammad Top narrowly escaped capture last November after police raided a house he was staying in in East Java. His associate Azahari Husin was killed in a separate raid on another house.

More than 200 people were killed in the 2002 attacks on Bali's nightclubs, and 23 people, including three suicide bombers, were killed in the latest Bali bombings in 2005.

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