JAKARTA, Indonesia -- The top suspect in the Bali bombings has admitted that he knows the two alleged leaders of an al-Qaida linked terror network and has confessed to taking part in a string of terror attacks in Indonesia, officials said Friday.
After the arrest of an Indonesian man identified as Amrozi -- the first major breakthrough in the inquiry -- police said Friday they expected to capture more of his accomplices soon.
Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Edward Aritonang said Amrozi, 40, admitted that he knows two Muslim clerics: Riduan Isamudin -- also known as Hambali -- and Abu Bakar Bashir, said to be the leaders of Jemaah Islamiyah. The Muslim militant group has been linked by investigators to al-Qaida, and has emerged as the prime suspect in the Oct. 12 Bali nightclub bombings that killed nearly 200 people.
Hambali, a known al-Qaida operative in the region, has been named as Jemaah Islamiyah's operations chief. He is believed to be in hiding outside Indonesia.
Other intelligence officials in Bali, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said Amrozi admitted under interrogation that he met with the two clerics.
The officials said Amrozi admitted that he bought the materials used in the bombs and has confessed to taking part in a bomb blast at the Jakarta Stock Exchange that killed 15 people in 2000. He also acknowledged involvement in the bombing of the Philippines ambassador's residence in Jakarta in 2000 and the bombing of the Philippines consulate in North Sulawesi province on Oct. 12, the officials said.
The developments signaled that the investigation was gaining momentum and lent credence to the assertion that al-Qaida was involved in the bombings, the worst terrorist strike since the attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
Maj. Gen. I Made Mangku Pastika, who heads an international investigation into the bombings, said detectives believe that six to 10 people were involved in the Bali attack.
Speaking in the Philippines where he is attending an anti-terrorism conference, Pastika said Amrozi had led police to a house in the Bali capital Denpasar where a forensic unit found residue of the explosives used in the bombs.
Pastika said police believe the bomb was triggered using a cell phone headset connected to the detonator and that fragments of the phone have been found.
Two one-way tickets to the Indonesian city of Manado were also found at the house. Pastika suggested that Amrozi and an accomplice may have been planning to flee to the southern Philippines, home to Muslim extremist groups like the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Pastika said Amrozi confessed after being confronted with evidence that included receipts from a chemical company for materials used in making the Bali bomb.
Amrozi told police he bought a ton of ammonium chlorate, sulfur and aluminum, purchasing between 220 and 440 pounds each time over six months to avoid raising suspicion. Only 220 pounds of explosives were used in the Bali bombings, Pastika said, and it is unclear where the rest is.
Amrozi said plans for the bombing began in earnest in early September and that two to three men began building the bomb on Oct. 5, a few days after he purchased the van used to carry the explosives, according to Pastika. Amrozi then left the island two days before the attack.
Although Australians account for the largest number of bombing victims, Pastika said Americans were the real target.
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