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AP Exclusive: al-Qaida Replacing Leaders

Al-Qaida-linked terrorists in Asia have quickly replaced captured leaders with a new operations chief and top bomb makers who are plotting deadly attacks on international hotels and other Western targets in the region, intelligence officials told The Associated Press. The arrest of Hambali — Osama bin Laden’s alleged point man in Asia — and the cracking of a terror ring blamed for bombings in Bali did temporarily disrupt the loose Jemaah Islamiyah network, said a senior Indonesian intelligence adviser. But the leadership vacuum left by Hambali’s Aug. 11 arrest in Thailand was filled within three weeks, said the adviser, even as the Islamic militant group carried out a recruiting drive in Indonesia — already home to about 2,000 of its 3,000 members. In AP interviews, the adviser and other Asian officials who spoke on condition of anonymity identified the three top new Jemaah Islamiyah leaders as: Zulkarnaen, an Indonesian believed to have replaced Hambali as operations chief; Azahari bin Husin, a Malaysian academic and reputed top bomb maker; and Dulmatin, an Indonesian allegedly involved in the Bali blasts, which killed 202 people a year ago. Full Story

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