Jakarta blast purportedly claimed

JAKARTA: Police are investigating an Internet message purportedly posted on behalf of a top Southeast Asian terror suspect claiming responsibility for the hotel bombings in Indonesia's capital nearly two weeks ago, an official said Wednesday.

The message, issued in the name of Noordin Mohammed Top, says the Jakarta hotel blasts were carried out by a splinter faction of the al-Qaida-linked regional militant group Jemaah Islamiyah. It says the attacks, which killed seven people and wounded more than 50, targeted the American business community.

Written in Arabic and Indonesian, the message was posted on a previously unknown Web site on Sunday. An expert on regional terrorism said the language resembles prior claims by Muslim extremist groups and may be authentic.

Police spokesman Sulityo Ishak said the message is part of their inquiries into the blasts at the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels on July 17, which broke a four-year lull in terror attacks in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Noordin is already accused of planning four previous attacks in Indonesia that killed more than 240 people. His group claimed responsibility for just one of those strikes — triple suicide bombings in Bali in 2005 — in a similar note.

"It is entirely plausible that the statement could have originated from Noordin Top, but we can't really know for sure," said Jim Della-Giacoma, Southeast Asia project director for the International Crisis Group think tank. "It is interesting that the statement mentions the names of two late close associates of Noordin, both of whom were killed by police."

The note says the twin bombings were carried out in honor of Azahari bin Husin, a top Jemaah Islamiyah bomb maker who was fatally shot by counterterrorism forces in November 2005, and Sariyah Jabir, another explosives expert who was killed in April 2006 during a raid on a militant hide-out in central Java.

The message accuses the American business community of stealing Indonesia's vast natural resources, and says the bombings were "done by a holy warrior brother against the American Chamber of Commerce and Industry" at the hotels.

The note is purportedly signed by Noordin, identified as the "leader of the Tandzim al-Qaida Indonesia," his violent breakaway faction of Jemaah Islamiyah.

Jemaah Islamiyah splinter groups are considered the most likely perpetrators of the hotel attacks. An unexploded bomb recovered from the scene resembled devices used by the group before. No suspects have been formally named by police.