July 23, 2009 / 12:06 PM / 10 years ago

Indonesian unaware husband was Noordin Top-lawyer

- For full cover of the attacks, click [ID:nSP391776]

* Noordin Top wife says thought he was a teacher

* Unexploded bomb was timed to go 1st, suicide bombs after

* Marriott official: suspected bomber was "cool and calm"

* Australia PM says sickened militants prey on children

By Olivia Rondonuwu and Telly Nathalia

JAKARTA, July 23 (Reuters) - The Indonesian wife of Noordin Top, the region’s most-wanted militant because of his role in a string of bomb attacks in Indonesia, did not know his real name and thought he was a teacher, her lawyer said on Thursday.

Malaysian-born Top is one of the prime suspects behind last week’s near-simultaneous suicide bomb attacks on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton, two luxury hotels in Jakarta’s main business district, which killed nine people and injured 53, including Indonesians and foreigners.

Police and security analysts said the attacks bore the hallmarks of Jemaah Islamiah (JI), the militant Islamist group responsible for previous attacks in Jakarta and on the resort island of Bali, or of a splinter group headed by Top.

Arina Rochmah was detained by the police under Indonesia’s terrorism law, her lawyer Achmad Michdan told Reuters, adding that she could be charged for harbouring or hiding information about a terror suspect.

Michdan said Rochmah had no knowledge that her husband, Abdul Halim, was Noordin Top, although she admitted he was seldom at home due to his work teaching at an Islamic boarding school in South Sulawesi.

He said that police took Rochmah, 25, her two children and her mother on Wednesday from an Islamic boarding school founded by her father in Cilacap, in central Java.

Michdan added that Rochmah had come to Jakarta and asked for legal protection a few weeks ago, after the police raided the family’s house. Police said that a bomb found at the house was identical to those used in Friday’s blasts.

Under the terrorism law, police have seven days to declare someone a suspect.


Police have distributed sketches of the two suicide bombers, one of whom might have been as young as 16 or 17 years old.

"If those reports are true, it is sickening that these evil terrorists would prey on children to do their dirty work," Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told journalists in Bundaberg, in the country’s north.

Three Australians are among the foreigners who died in the blasts.

The bombers checked into the Marriott as paying guests on July 15 and assembled the bombs in a room on the 18th floor, according to police.

A third bomb, which was found in a laptop computer bag in room 1808, was defused. Police said on Thursday the unexploded bomb had been timed to go off before the two suicide bombers blew themselves up.

"There was a timer (attached to the bomb), and from what was shown, it was supposed to go off before the two others that did go off," national police spokesman Ketut Untung Yoga Ana told a media briefing.

A police source told Reuters on Monday one theory police are working on is that the bombers planned to detonate the bomb on the 18th floor first, sending panicking guests rushing down to the lobby where one of the suicide bombers would detonate a second bomb, potentially killing and injuring many more guests.

Alan Orlob, Marriott International’s vice president of corporate security, said on Thursday his team had just got back hotel CCTV footage from police that showed one of the suspected attackers appeared calm when he entered the Marriott.

"The guy came in through the inspection station and he seemed very cool and calm, didn’t seem to be nervous or anything," said Orlob, who was staying at the adjacent Ritz-Carlton which is part of the Marriott group on the morning of the attack.

"He put his bag on the table to be inspected, but he was only carrying the one bag," he added.

Closed-circuit television footage aired on Indonesian television showed the suspect later strolling across the hotel’s lounge towing a small suitcase with a backpack strapped to his chest. Moments later, he activated an improvised explosive device in the backpack, killing himself and five others.

A few minutes later, an accomplice set off another device in a restaurant at the adjacent Ritz-Carlton hotel, killing himself and two others. (Additional reporting by Ed Davies in Jakarta and Rob Taylor in Canberra; Editing by Sara Webb and Jeremy Laurence)

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