JAKARTA, Indonesia – Police identified the bomber in this week's deadly Marriott attack, using his severed head found at the scene, and said Friday he had been recruited by an Al Qaeda linked Southeast Asian terror group.
The statement is the latest indication that Jemaah Islamiyah, which is accused of carrying out last year's devastating nightclub bombings on the island of Bali, was also behind Tuesday's blast, which killed 10 people and injured almost 150.
Two jailed Jemaah members who were shown a photograph of the head found at the site of the blast -- thought to be the driver of the explosive-packed van that detonated at the Marriott -- identified him and admitted to having recruited him, said Indonesian chief of detectives Erwin Mappaseng.
The two Jemaah members identified the man as Asmar Latin Sani, a 28-year-old from the island of Sumatra, "based on a scar on his left temple," Mappaseng told reporters.
Jemaah Islamiyah is accused of plotting or carrying out attacks in several Southeast Asian nations. An Indonesian court on Thursday issued the first verdict in the October 2002 Bali bombings, sentencing to death Amrozi bin Nurhasyim for buying the van and explosives used in the attack.
Defense lawyers said Friday they would appeal the death sentence even though Amrozi told them not to. The 41-year-old militant has said he wants to be a martyr and flashed a smile and thumbs-up sign in court when the sentence was pronounced.
"I'm not doing what he wants but what he needs," attorney Wirawan Adnan told The Associated Press. "I have to use the facilities that the law provides for the benefit of my client."
Thirty-three other suspected Jemaah members are either on trial or awaiting trial in the Bali attack, which killed 202 people.
The Marriott bombing has raised fears that militants intend a new wave of attacks in retaliation for the trials.
In London, an Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi on Friday published a claim of responsibility for the Marriott attack from an da linked terrorist cell, called the Abu Hafs el-Masri Brigades.
There was no way to confirm the claim of responsibility by the previously unknown cell. Abu Hafs el-Masri was the alias of Mohammad Atef, a top lieutenant of Al Qaeda chief Usama bin Laden who was killed by U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan in November 1991.
Indonesia's police spokesman Edward Aritonang said they would not dismiss such a claim, but authorities here "did not know about them (the Abu Hafs el-Masri brigades)."
Da'i Bachtiar, Indonesia's police chief, said evidence gathered so far had pointed the Marriott investigation toward Jemaah Islamiyah. "Indeed it is heading in that direction," he said.
The two Jemaah operatives who identified Sani were Sardono Siliwangi and Mohammad Rais, who were arrested in June and accused of involvement in bombings and robberies on Sumatra, Indonesia's westernmost island, Mappaseng said.
Bachtiar released photos of two unidentified men, saying they could be linked to Sani and the Marriott explosion. And he offered a surprise apology for failing to prevent the Marriott attack -- the 13th bombing in Indonesia's capital in four years.
"I apologize to the people ... despite our efforts to stop terrorists, there was still a bomb attack," he said.
The Marriott's management said they expect the hotel to reopen in 30 days. The building's ground floor restaurant and lobby were badly damaged by the blast, but it remained structurally intact, officials said.
In her first public comments since the bombing, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to evolve "into a full-fledged security community" to combat the growing threat of international terrorism.
"It has become clear that no single country or group of countries can overcome this threat alone," Megawati told a conference marking ASEAN's 36th anniversary on Friday.