Frenchman suspected in Indonesian embassy blast

Mar 29, 2012, 3:36 PM

Associated Press

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – A Frenchman who studied with Islamic militants in Indonesia allegedly orchestrated last week’s bombing at the country’s embassy in Paris, a top anti-terrorism official said Thursday, citing intercepted emails and online chats.

The package bomb that exploded March 21 did not cause any injuries or major damage to the building.

Indonesia’s anti-terrorism agency chief Ansyaad Mbai told The Associated Press that French investigators had confirmed that the main suspect is Frederic C. Jean Salvi, who also is believed to have studied for several years with Islamic militants in this predominantly Muslim nation.

The attack was apparently meant as a warning to Indonesia to stop a U.S. and Australia-funded security crackdown that has resulted in the arrests, convictions and imprisonment of hundreds of Islamic militants in recent years.

“There were strong indications he was involved in the bombing at our mission in Paris,” Mbai said.

The Frenchman has been on Indonesia’s wanted list since 2010 when police raided a home in West Java province.

Salvi and several other members of a small terror cell _ who had allegedly been planning a car bombing when police swooped in _ managed to escape

Indonesia, a secular nation of 240 million people, most of whom are Muslim, has been battling terrorists since 2002 when the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah attacked two nightclubs on Bali island, killing 202 people, many of them foreign tourists.

Though the group carried out several other deadly attacks in the years that followed, it has since been largely dismantled, replaced by several smaller, less organized cells.

Mbai said emails and internet chats intercepted by Indonesian investigators indicated Salvi was involved in the embassy blast and that Indonesian militants helped him.

The bomb appears to be linked to a similar, October 2004 attack on the embassy that injured 10 employees, he said.

Both devices went off at around 5 a.m. and were placed beneath the same window.

Salvi has also been targeted by Interpol for crimes he committed at home, Mbai said. He’s presumed to be in France.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Frenchman suspected in Indonesian embassy blast