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Nightclub terror plans revealed

From CNN Jakarta Bureau Chief Maria Ressa

Authorities in the region say Hambali may have been behind the explosions in Bali

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- An al Qaeda operative now in U.S. custody has told the FBI about plans to attack popular bars and nightclubs in Southeast Asia, according to classified documents.

His name is Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, an al Qaeda operative arrested in Oman last March.

FBI documents obtained by CNN tell how Jabarah admitted to planning suicide-bombing attacks against the U.S. embassies in Singapore and the Philippines.

Jabarah worked with another al Qaeda operative also now in U.S. custody, Omar Al Faruq.

Based in Indonesia, Al Faruq gave the CIA information last month which shut down several U.S. embassies in Southeast Asia.

But a third plotter remains free -- al Qaeda operative Riduan Isamuddin, aka Hambali.

Intelligence authorities say Hambili is deputy leader and operations chief of Jemaah Islamiya -- a militant Islamic group suspected of having links to the bombings in Bali as well as recent attacks in the Philippines.

They say he is still directing operatives across the region from Indonesia. (Terror network growing in Asia, Australia)

Jabarah told his FBI interrogators that Hambali was planning to "conduct small bombings in bars, cafes or nightclubs frequented by westerners in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia."

That intelligence, CNN was told, has been passed to U.S. allies and may have contributed to recent actions and advisory warnings by Britain, Australia and other countries.

"The actions ... show that there is danger out there, that the war on terror continues and that the threats are serious," warns U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Ralph Boyce.

Authorities in Indonesia and in the region say Hambali may have been behind the explosions in Bali, which killed nearly 200 people on October 12.

The coordinated, near-simultaneous attacks on the Indonesian island are in addition to five recent explosions in the Philippines.

The attacks bear a striking resemblance to bombings allegedly organized by Hambali in those two countries two years ago, Filipino investigators say.

Two of the explosives used in Bali -- ammonium nitrate and TNT -- authorities say, have been stockpiled by the Jemaah Islamiya (JI).

The group's alleged leader is Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, arrested this week by Indonesia but still to be questioned.

Although he has been placed under arrest, Ba'asyir has not been linked to the Bali blasts, despite authorities' suspicions that JI is linked to the attack.

"Abu Bakar Ba'asyir is the emir -- he is the head of the JI network, though he denies it exists," says Southeast Asian analyst, Zachary Abuza.

Terrorism experts say Ba'asyir and Hambali sit on the shura or leadership councils of both JI and al Qaeda.

The Bush administration plans to put JI on its list of terrorist organizations this week, a senior official told CNN. (Full story)

At the same time, Indonesian intelligence sources say they expect to make arrests in the coming days which could pinpoint Hambali's location and help stop future attacks.

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