The alleged mastermind of last month's deadly nightclub bombings in Bali has confessed to planning and executing the attack that killed nearly 200 people, a top investigator said Friday.
"He has already confessed," said Gen. I Made MAngku Pastika, who is heading the investigation.
Police arrested Imam Samudra late Thursday on a bus in the port of Merak on Indonesia's main island of Java as he tried to reach a ferry bound for the western island of Sumatra.
It was the biggest breakthrough of the investigation into the Oct. 12 blasts. Authorities now say they are confident that his remaining accomplices will be captured soon.
Samudra, an Afghan-trained militant with alleged links to the Jemaah Islamiyah terror group, allegedly planned the Oct. 12 attack and helped build the bombs that blew up outside the Sari Club and Paddy's bar.
He was arrested in the port town of Merak on Indonesia's main island of Java, A.M. Hendropriyono, the chief of the national intelligence agency, told The Associated Press.
Samudra, 35, is a leading member of Jemaah Islamiyah and was acting on orders from the group's operational chief, Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali, an intelligence official said on condition of anonymity.
Police are trying to find seven other suspects. Samudra's arrest could give them much-needed clues into the workings of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, which has planned a series of attacks against Western interests in Southeast Asia.
Police this week released sketches of six of the suspects, raided Islamic boarding schools and swept rural villages where they were believed to be hiding.
Samudra's arrest comes more than two weeks after police arrested Amrozi, one of the bombers, who has given police the names of the other suspects and detailed the bombing plot. Amrozi has confessed to owning a minivan used in the attack outside the Sari Club and to having obtained the bomb-making materials, police say.
Samudra, though, is believed to be a much bigger catch.
Police say he learned bombmaking in Afghanistan and is believed to also be responsible for a series of church bombings in Indonesia in 2000.
Samudra taught at a religious school in southern Malaysia in the early 1990s run by the suspected leaders of Jemaah Islamiyah.
A detained Muslim cleric, Abu Bakar Bashir, is believed to be the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah. The operations chief, Hambali has been implicated in operations ranging from logistical support for the Sept. 11 hijackers to bombings in Indonesia and the Philippines.
So far, police have not named Bashir a suspect in the Bali bombings, but he was arrested after the attack on separate charges of masterminding the church bombings in 2000 and plotting to assassinate Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.
An intelligence official who asked not to be named said there is evidence linking Bashir to the bombings.
Bashir denies the allegations.