Most of the chemicals seized—potassium chloride, calcium chloride and aluminum powder—were similar to those used in the Bali bomb blasts. While only a few kilograms were discovered, there was enough to kill scores if a bomb were set off in a confined, crowded space, a regional intelligence official says. Police also recovered 14 detonators and a volatile high explosive called pentaerythritol tetranitrate, or PENT, the prime component of the explosive in would-be bomber Richard Reid's sneakers. What worries terrorism experts is the possibility that a thwarted JI might turn to lone-wolf attacks like Reid's. "I don't think JI is capable of anything big right now," says Zachary Abuza, author of a forthcoming book on al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia, "but I'm worried that we could see the beginning of a number of small attacks."
Alias, police say, was once a student of Azahari bin Husin, the Malaysian professor who they believe was chiefly responsible for building the Bali bombs. Azahari, the author of a JI manual on bomb building, came within a whisker of being captured by Indonesian police in early June. According to regional intelligence sources familiar with the events, Azahari and another suspect in the Bali blasts were tracked down to a town in southern Sumatra. Alerted that something was wrong when police moved in to arrest a third JI suspect in the same town, Azahari and his companion fled, escaping moments before the police arrived. That narrow miss could have grave consequences. "Commanders like Azahari are the dangerous ones," says a senior regional intelligence official. "If we can get Azahari and maybe seven or eight others like him—cut off the head of the beast—then the ordinary foot soldiers won't be much danger any more."