Karachi, Sept. 22 (Reuters): Pakistani security forces have detained a brother of Hambali, a militant accused of masterminding bombings in southeast Asia and being al Qaida’s key regional contact, senior officials said today.
The brother was among 15 students arrested on Saturday in a series of raids on Islamic religious schools in the southern port city of Karachi. The students were held for suspected links to militants.
“Yes, his (Hambali’s) brother is among them,” said a senior Pakistan interior ministry official, who asked not to be named. An official from Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Bureau, who also asked not to be identified, said the suspects — two from Indonesia and 13 Malaysians — were still in Karachi. “Officials from Malaysia and Indonesia are helping our investigators in their interrogations,” he said.
Private Indonesian television station SCTV said on its website that one of the Indonesians, identified as Gun Gun Gunawan, was the younger brother of Riduan Isamuddin, alias Hambali.
Hambali, now in US custody, is accused of masterminding a series of attacks in the region, including last year’s Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people and last month’s car bombing at a luxury Jakarta hotel that killed 12.
He was arrested on August 11 in Thailand by Thai police and US agents before being flown to an undisclosed location. Another brother told SCTV Gun Gun went to Pakistan in 1999 to study religion and had not contacted the family since last year.
Hundreds of foreign students study in Karachi’s Islamic seminaries. At least three of the students who were detained were from the Jamia Darsat-e-Islamia school, run by the outlawed militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba.