Indonesia has arrested a key Islamist militant commander for alleged involvement in paramilitary training in Southeast Asia, a move that will reduce the threat of terror attacks in Southeast Asia's largest economy, police said on Friday.
The capture is the latest in a string of high-profile raids in the past year by Western-trained anti-terror police after deadly bomb attacks on Jakarta hotels in 2009, underlining a potential improvement in security that could help draw foreign investment.
Security experts said Friday's arrest of Mustofa, alias Abu Tholut, one of only a few Islamist militant leaders captured alive, will help reveal more about Islamic militant movements and their plans in Indonesia.
"With a series of captures we've had recently, including Tholut, we can press terrorism down in Indonesia," police spokesman Iskandar Hasan told Reuters.
Mustofa is a firearms expert who went to Afghanistan in the late 1980s before returning to Asia to train militant group Jemaah Islamiah, a paramilitary camp in Mindanao in the Philippines and recently another camp in Indonesia's Aceh, said Sidney Jones, an expert on security at International Crisis Group in Jakarta.
"He is going to be potentially a very valuable source of information who knows about the exact role of Abu Bakar Bashir as well as the activities of the group in Aceh," she said.
Bashir, said by police to be the leader of al Qaeda in Indonesia, twice escaped terror charges but is now in detention for alleged involvement with the Aceh group.
The Aceh-based group had planned to attack the president, government officials, and state guests attending an independence day event in August, with the aim of declaring Indonesia an Islamic state ruled by sharia law, police have said.
Since bomb attacks in the capital in July last year, blamed on a Jemaah Islamiah splinter group, police have foiled further attacks, and increased stability and a strong economy is expected to draw greater portfolio and direct investment.