BALI, Indonesia – Police took to the air Saturday to press the search for the suspected masterminds of the Bali (search) terror bombings, using a helicopter to scatter pictures of the fugitives on another island where at least one of the pair was thought to be hiding.
Although they expressed confidence in the first days after the Oct. 1 bombings, Indonesian investigators have not announced any major breakthrough. They have yet to identify the attackers, even after having newspapers publish grisly pictures of the bombers' severed heads.
The manhunt focused on two of Southeast Asia's most-sought fugitives — Noordin Mohamed Top (search) and Azahari bin Husin (search) — who are alleged to be the leaders of Jemaah Islamiyah, a terror group that wants to establish an Islamic state across the region. Authorities say it has links to Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda (search) network.
The men are suspected of planning the suicide attack on three packed restaurants on Bali, which killed 23 people, including the bombers, and wounded about 100. They also have been blamed for a bombing that killed 202 in Bali three years ago and other attacks in Indonesia, which is the world's most populous Muslim nation.
Noordin, nicknamed "Moneyman," is believed to be a smooth-talking recruiter and fund-raiser for the terror group. His close aide, Azahari, has been dubbed "Demolition Man" for his reputed expertise in explosives.
Police said they raided one of Noordin's hideouts before sunrise Friday but he had slipped away just hours before they stormed the home in central Java province's Purwantoro district.
On Saturday, a helicopter flew low over the nearby city of Solo and released 10,000 fliers with photographs of Noordin and Azahari and a warning that they are "dangerous terrorists."
"We hope this can help people recognize them and be aware of them," said Solo police Maj. Agus Mulyono.
The two fugitives, both Malaysians, have dodged police for years, hiding out in this nation of 220 million people that sprawls over more than 10,000 islands that stretch across 3,000 miles.
"They are probably changing their appearance every second," said the national police spokesman, Brig. Gen. Sunarko Ardanto. "That's why we need the support from the public."
Other leads being pursued included a phone call made by the wife of another top terror suspect, Zulkarnaen, who goes by one name, said central Java's police chief, Maj. Gen. Chairul Rasyid. The woman called a number in Bali just days before the attack and police were tracing the call, he said.
The police chief also said investigators felt they were close to identifying two of the three suicide bombers. Police hope figuring out who the bombers were will help them hunt down the attack's planners and perhaps give them a better understanding of Jemaah Islamiyah.
On Bali, about 100 surfers gathered for a memorial Saturday at a beach close to two of the seaside cafes that were bombed. They paddled out to sea, formed a circle, locked arms and threw necklaces of white flowers into the water.
"I hope the terrorists will think, feel and recognize what they did. I'm really upset," said Made Adiputra, 25, an Indonesian professional surfer. "I'm really sad. It's really awful to kill innocent people like that."
Crowds gaped at the wrecked restaurants Saturday as police lines were taken down and some nearby shops reopened.
With the second terror assault on the resort in three years, Balinese officials face a tough task of convincing foreign visitors that the island is a safe destination. The tourism industry is responsible for 85 percent of Bali's $1.5 billion annual economy.