Please click here to watch TNI editor Justine A. Rosenthal discuss U.S. interrogation strategy with Matthew Alexander.
THE SEVEN-year manhunt came down to this. In the wee morning hours of a September dawn, Noordin Mohammed Top, the most wanted terrorist in Southeast Asia, huddled in a burning house in central Java along with three of his men. The fire started when a round shot by police in the initial standoff ignited the fuel tank of a motorcycle inside the courtyard of the house, forcing Top to seek refuge in the bathroom, where he decided to make his final stand. Top believed that dying during what he considered to be legitimate jihad would earn him a seat in heaven, and taking a few apostate policemen with him would ensure a bonus reward in the afterlife. The Indonesian police had come close to catching Top before, but he proved to be an elusive, and lethal, fugitive. Perhaps this would be their moment of glory.
Top's terrorist rap sheet was long. As the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), an Indonesian al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organization bathed in Islamic extremism, he pulled off spectacular bombings of Western-frequented establishments: a Bali nightclub in 2002, the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in 2003, the Australian embassy in 2004, another in Bali in 2005, and, most recently, that same JW Marriott Hotel and Jakarta's Ritz-Carlton this past July. Top was a master recruiter, bomb maker, evader and leader; an unprecedented threat with connections to organizations in Pakistan and the Middle East.