Suspect with IS Flag Kills Policeman in Attack in Indonesian Borneo

Gunawan and Ronna Nirmala
Banjarmasin, Indonesia and Jakarta
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200601_ID_terrorism_620.jpg Indonesian police escort an arrested terror suspect to a news conference in Jakarta on May 17, 2019.

A man carrying the Islamic State extremist group’s black flag killed a police officer and seriously wounded another during a sword attack in Indonesian Borneo on Monday before he was fatally shot, authorities said.

The suspect, identified as Ana Abdurrahman, torched a police car and then went after officers with a katana sword during the pre-dawn attack at a police station in South Daha, a district of South Kalimantan province, officials said. Police at the scene shot Abdurrahman, who died of his injuries while being transported to a local hospital, they said.

Abdurrahman acted alone in the attack, after which officers recovered a backpack from him that contained a flag bearing the Islamic State symbol, a card with an IS inscription, a small copy of the Quran, and a handwritten note urging Muslims to fight “idolaters,” a spokesman for the provincial police force said.

“There were some ISIS-related documents, but we can’t confirm whether he was an ISIS member or not,” spokesman Mochamad Rifai told BenarNews, using another acronym for Islamic State (IS).

Compared with the more populated Java and Sumatra Islands, attacks carried out by Islamic State militants or sympathizers are rare in Kalimantan, the Indonesian region of Borneo made up of five provinces.

The last known IS-linked attack in Indonesian Borneo took place in November 2016, when a toddler was killed and three other small children were injured in a Molotov cocktail blast at a church in East Kalimantan province.

Rifai said police were questioning witnesses and relatives of the two victims.

The injured officer, M. Azmi, was in an intensive care unit where he was being treated for stab wounds, he said.

Rifai said the slain officer, Leonardo Latupapua, and Abdurrahman had both lived in Bayanan village but were not believed to have known each other.

The Bayanan village chief, Hasan, said he did not know Abdurrahman but personally knew Leonardo.

“I have never seen or heard of the attacker. I couldn’t even recognize him from the photo,” Hasan, who goes by one name, told BenarNews, adding that village residents would know each other because of its small size.

Hasan said Leonardo was a convert to Islam and was married to a nurse from a neighboring village.

National police chief Gen. Idham Aziz, meanwhile, asked local authorities to assist Leonardo’s family, said Gen. Nico Afinta, the police chief in South Kalimantan

“The victim had two small children – one is 7 years old and the other 4 years old. I am going to visit their house to convey condolences from the national police chief,” Nico told BenarNews.

Nico vowed to take strong action against militants, saying “there is no room for terrorist groups” in South Kalimantan.

The suspect Abdurrahman was 19 years old, another local police official said, according to Agence France-Presse.

Monday’s attack took place as Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, marked Pancasila Day, a holiday that celebrates the state’s founding philosophy, whose pillars include national unity and diversity.

Adhe Bakti, a researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Deradicalization Studies (PAKAR), said it was too early to determine the suspect’s motive in the attack in South Kalimantan, though similar attacks involving IS-inspired militants had occurred in other parts of Indonesia.

“An attack in which people went on a rampage attacking the police isn’t new. But we can’t say for sure until we have seen police documents,” Adhe told an online discussion.

Adhe said that IS-inspired militants would use any window of opportunity to launch an attack on the perceived enemy.

“Even during the current [coronavirus] pandemic, if they see the slightest chance of attacking the enemy, they will do it,” he said.

In October 2019, a couple believed to members of the IS-affiliated Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an Indonesian militant group, used knives to attack then security minister Wiranto and two other people who were accompanying him during a working visit to Pandeglang town in Banten province.

Wiranto suffered two deep wounds in the stomach. He has since recovered.

The two suspects, Syahrial Alamsyah, 51, and his wife, Fitri Diana, are currently on trial for the attack and could face the death penalty, if convicted.

A former terrorism convict, Sofyan Tsauri, said militants began setting their sights on police targets in 2010 following a government crackdown on terrorism.

“During the previous decade their targets were Western symbols,” Sofyan told an online discussion on terrorism on Monday.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has been hit by a string of terrorist attacks since the early 2000s, with more recent strikes blamed on IS-affiliated militants.

Authorities blame militants for the country’s deadliest terror attack – the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people – and several other deadly blasts.


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