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Indonesia police work to confirm Bali bomb suspect arrest

From Kathy Quiano, CNN
Umar Patek is a top suspect in the Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people in 2002.
Umar Patek is a top suspect in the Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people in 2002.
  • Police in Pakistan reportedly arrest one of Southeast Asia's most wanted men
  • Indonesian police are working to confirm the suspect's identity
  • The arrest would be "hugely significant" if confirmed, an analyst says
  • The United States has a $1 million reward on Umar Patek's head

Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) -- Police in Indonesia have sent a team to confirm that Pakistan has arrested a top suspect in the Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people in 2002, a top Indonesian police official told CNN Wednesday.

They will try to establish that the suspect in custody is Umar Patek, one of Southeast Asia's most wanted men, Indonesian National Police spokesman Anton Bahrul Alam said.

The United States has offered a $1 million reward for his capture.

Several news organizations reported Monday that Patek had been arrested in Pakistan on March 2.

Indonesian police are coordinating with Interpol and sent a team to Pakistan to verify and confirm Patek's identity, Alam said.

"We have to first make sure it is Umar Patek and then we have to determine what his activities were in Pakistan," the police spokesman said.

If confirmed, the arrest would be "hugely significant," an International Crisis Group analyst told CNN.

Patek can shed light on "the nature of terrorist groups in the Philippines; their relations with Indonesian groups in terms of training, financing, communication and ideology; and the nature of links between South Asian and Southeast Asian extremists," said Sidney Jones.

Patek is wanted in Indonesia, Australia, the United States and the Philippines. Jones argued that it will make a difference where he is tried.

"There are various factors to consider," she explained.

"How strong is the evidence against him in each country that wants him, and will it stand up in court? How much will he be regarded as a hero by young jihadis in whatever country that has him, to the point that he could be a radicalising influence? What kind of prison security is there in the countries involved? So it does matter where he is held and where he is tried," she said.

Patek, an Indonesian of Javanese and Arab descent, is suspected of acting as the deputy field coordinator of the 2002 bombings in Bali that killed 202 people, most of them western tourists.

Seven Americans were killed in the attacks.

Authorities and security experts say Patek was a member of the terror network Jemaah Islamiyah, that he took part in the Bali bombings, and that fled to Mindanao in the Philippines in 2003.

Along with other fugitive Jemaah Islamiyah members, Patek joined an elite force of the Philippines Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF and then later the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group.

Another militant leader, Dulmatin, who was with Patek, was killed in a police raid in Jakarta a year ago.

He was thought to have helped set up a militant training camp in the province of Aceh. The two remained elusive for many years, and there were regular reports of their deaths or arrests.