Indonesia has sent a team to confirm Pakistan's arrest of Umar Patek, a top suspect in the bombings in the Indonesian resort of Bali that killed 202 people a year after the 9/11 attacks, according to reports.
The United States had offered a $1 million reward for the capture of Patek, a suspected member of the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, as a high-profile figure in the war on terror who could provide valuable intelligence about possible future plots.
Patek, 40, was also one of Southeast Asia's most wanted men, hunted for nine years for his role in the Oct. 12, 2002, bombing that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians and seven Americans, in Bali's nightclub strip of Kuta Beach. He was reportedly arrested in Pakistan on March 2.
Indonesian police were coordinating with Interpol and sent a team to Pakistan to verify and confirm Patek's identity, Indonesian National Police spokesman Anton Bahrul Alam said, CNN reported.
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," Sidney Jones of the International Crisis Group told CNN.
Events surrounding Patek's capture are unclear, as are details about what he was doing in Pakistan, according to Forbes.
One theory was that he was there to plan an attack with top Qaeda operational leaders as the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks approached.
Patek — a Javanese-Arabic known as the "little Arab " — was also thought to have spent much of the time since the 2002 bombings with Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the southern Philippines, according to the Australian.
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd confirmed Patek's identity on Wednesday, even though his Indonesian counterpart, Marty Natalegawa, had refused to do so "for operational reasons."
Patek is believed to have served as Jemaah Islamiyah's deputy field commander in the Bali bombings, and was a close associate of Dulmatin, the man who allegedly made the bombs for the Bali attacks and who was killed in a shootout with police at a central Java Internet cafe in 2010.
Meanwhile the trial of another key figure in the Bali attacks, Abu Bakar Bashir, resumed Monday in Jakarta.
Bashir, the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, is on trial over terror charges which carry a maximum penalty of death.
— Freya Petersen