JAKARTA, Indonesia — An Islamic teacher suspected of involvement in a Southeast Asian terrorist network has been detained in central Indonesia, police said Saturday.
Brig. Gen. Bambang Suwedi said the suspect, identified only as Sahal, was arrested Thursday morning in the town of Poso in Central Sulawesi province.
Suwedi said police had acted on reports the teacher had ties to Malaysian fugitive Noordin Top, an operative with the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiah group.
"He (Sahal) was questioned by the anti-terror unit in Jakarta," Suwedi said, adding that police could hold Sahal for a week before formally declaring him a suspect.
Jemaah Islamiah has been blamed for a string of bombings since 2000 that have left over 245 dead, many of them foreigners. The group wants to establish an Islamic state spanning Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the southern Philippines.
Ninety percent of Indonesia's 210 million people are Muslim, and most people practice a moderate form of the faith. But attacks against Christians have increased in recent years amid a global rise in Islamic radicalism.
Almost half of Sulawesi's population is Christian. The province was the scene of fierce battles between Muslims and Christians in 2001 and 2002 that killed about 1,000 people, and despite a peace deal, violence against Christians has continued.
The Associated Press