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Alleged terror network suspect held

Samudra (L), also in police custody, has been identified as one of the masterminds in the Bali attack
Samudra (L), also in police custody, has been identified as one of the masterminds in the Bali attack

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SPECIAL REPORT
JIHAD IN ASIA
A CNN Special Report by Jakarta Bureau Chief Maria Ressa
SPECIAL REPORT
War against terror: Southeast Asia front 

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Indonesian police say they have arrested a key member of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), an al Qaeda-linked militant Islamic group blamed for several terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia, including October's Bali nightclub bombings.

Ali Gufron, also known as Mukhlas, was apprehended late Tuesday in the central Javanese town of Solo along with several other people, Gen. Erwin Mappaseng, the national chief of police detectives, told reporters on Wednesday.

Mukhlas is the brother of Amrozi who is also in Indonesian custody in connection with the Bali blasts that killed more than 190 people. Police have identified Amrozi as the owner of a van used in the October 12 attack.

Officials hailed Mukhlas' arrest as a major breakthrough which would provide investigators with a detailed map of the JI operational network.

But they are not saying whether or not he was arrested specifically in connection with the Bali bombings.

Mukhlas is wanted in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia for several bombing cases and Indonesian investigators say they hope he can shed more light on JI's network.

Security sources have told CNN Mukhlas controls JI operations in Singapore, Malaysia and parts of Indonesia.

He is one of four operations chiefs to answer to Hambali, a higher-up in the Jemaah Islamiyah organization who is also a member of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda leadership, the security sources said.

Regional intelligence officials say that Mukhlas was involved in the planning of the Bali bombings as well as other attacks throughout Southeast Asia.

Another key JI member, Imam Samudra, is also in police custody and has confessed to planning and carrying out the Bali attack.

Also under detention is the alleged spiritual leader of JI, Abu Bakar Ba'aysir. The Indonesian cleric has not been formally named as a suspect in the Bali bombings and was arrested in connection with a string of bombing attacks in 2000.

Ba'aysir has denied involvement in those attacks and says JI does not exist.

JI is on the U.S. terror watch list and has ties to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, intelligence officials and several Western governments say.

-- CNN Correspondent Atika Shubert contributed to this report



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