The arrests were a heartening victory in Asia's war on terror. But they were followed by bitter disappointment. Shortly after Tohir and Ismail were nabbed, says National Police chief detective Erwin Mappaseng, two bigger fish got away through a maze of small alleys in Bandung. Police say Dr. Azahari bin Husin, JI's alleged master bombmaker, and Nurdin Mohamad Top, a fellow Malaysian and suspected bomb expert, had been hiding out in a boarding house in Bandung for six weeks. Apparently, the two Malaysians got wind of the earlier arrestsand disappeared. When police searched the Bandung boarding house, they discovered six small bombs. Says one officer: "Azahari is obsessed with making bombs and they both keep explosives strapped around their waists at all times. They only take them off to pray."
Police have circulated detailed sketches of Azahari and Nurdin in various guises, and members of Task Force 88, a group of Indonesian police trained in counterterrorism by U.S. special forces, have joined the hunt. "Key players are still out there," says one officer close to the investigation, "and they are determined."