KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The Jemaah Islamiyah (search) terror group tried in the past year to carry out attacks in Southeast Asia but failed because it lacked funds, support from other militant operations and leadership within its ranks, officials said Friday.
The Al Qaida-linked (search) organization's ability to mount attacks was severely dented by the arrest of scores of militants after the Sept. 11 hijackings, including Hambali (search), the group's operations chief, a Malaysian government official told The Associated Press.
Remnants of Jemaah Islamiyah have made several attempts to regroup in Indonesia, but one of their biggest problems was they "could not agree on a leader to take over from Hambali," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Hambali — a high-ranking Al Qaida leader and mastermind behind Jemaah Islamiyah — was Southeast Asia's most-wanted fugitive before his August 2003 arrest in Thailand. Thai police turned him over to U.S. custody.
Hambali is suspected of orchestrating the Oct. 12, 2002, Bali bombings that killed 202 people, and of hosting at least two of the Sept. 11 hijackers in Kuala Lumpur ahead of the attacks in the United States.
A Malaysian security official also said the network had been severely crippled by arrests in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia in the last two years.
"The threat has subsided, but there are still a small group out there which could pose problems if authorities in the region let down their guard," he said.
The government official also said authorities in Southeast Asia have in the past year gained the upper hand in cutting off Jemaah Islamiyah's support from militant groups in the Philippines, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He said the crackdown on cells in the region had also left the Al Qaida-linked group without funds to mount attacks.
"The threat posed by Jemaah Islamiyah especially in Indonesia is still there as several key members are still at large," the official said. "But they are on the run ... it is important that authorities keep up this pressure."