Indonesian Police Fly Dozens of Suspected JAD Militants to Jakarta

Ronna Nirmala
Jakarta
2021-07-02
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Indonesian Police Fly Dozens of Suspected JAD Militants to Jakarta Police bomb-squad members inspect the wreckage of a motorcycle used to carry out a suicide bombing at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Makassar, Indonesia, March 29, 2021.
[AP]

Authorities in Indonesia flew dozens of suspected militants to Jakarta for questioning and detention, including members of a Makassar cell linked to a church bombing on Palm Sunday, officials said Friday.

The alleged members of the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) militant network were taken to Jakarta on a charter flight Thursday and immediately sent to a jail designated for terrorism inmates in Bogor, near the Indonesian capital, national police spokesman Ahmad Ramadhan said.

“The transfer of the terrorism detainees to Jakarta is for the purpose of further legal proceedings,” Ramadhan said.

Most of the suspects were arrested in a series of raids in Makassar and surrounding areas, after the March 28 suicide bombing at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in the capital of South Sulawesi province, the police spokesman said.

The rest were arrested last month in Merauke, a regency in Indonesia’s troubled far-eastern Papua region, on suspicion they were planning an attack on the Archbishop of Merauke, Petrus Canisius Mandagi, and police targets, Ramadhan said.

Papua police chief Inspector General Mathius Fakhiri said in a statement that among those arrested in Merauke were a married couple and their 6-month-old baby.

A married couple suspected to be JAD Makassar cell-members carried out the suicide bombing outside the Makassar church on March 28, which left the two attackers dead and injured 20 people.

Indonesian authorities have blamed JAD, which is linked to the so-called Islamic State (IS) group, for other attacks in Indonesia in recent years, including suicide bombings that targeted churches in the second largest city, Surabaya, in May 2018.

The Surabaya attacks killed 22 people, including the bombers.

JAD suspect escapes

Separately, a JAD suspect arrested this week for allegedly sending weapons and ammunition to fellow militants in Jakarta escaped on Thursday from police detention in Bangka Belitung province, according to an internal police report seen by BenarNews.

The suspect, identified as Agus Setianto alias Abu Raffa, 44, slipped out of an interrogation room at the provincial police headquarters in Pangkal Pinang in the early hours of Thursday after uncuffing himself following a questioning session, the report said.

“It’s true that yesterday during the investigation the person escaped and he is currently being pursued,” the news portal Detik.com quoted provincial police chief Inspector General Anang Syarif Hidayat as saying.

Anang said police had circulated Agus’s wanted posters and urged members of the public not to harbor the fugitive.

“People should remain calm and not protect him because they could be liable to prosecution under the Terrorism Law,” he said.

Meanwhile, police arrested a suspected member of the outlawed Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militant group in Deli Serdang, a regency in North Sumatra province, on Thursday, police spokesman Ramadhan said.

The suspect, identified by his initials B.A., was allegedly involved in military-style training with JI and had been a member of the group since 2015.

Since February, police have arrested at least 49 suspected members of JI, an al-Qaeda-linked militant group blamed for a series of deadly attacks in Indonesia in the early 2000s, including the 2002 bombings in Bali, which killed 202 people.

Late last year, police said JI had been raising funds by setting up more than 20,000 charity boxes at restaurants and convenience stores in seven provinces.

‘JAD’s propaganda trap’

JAD, meanwhile, remains formidable despite the absence of an overall leader after the jailing of its founder, Aman Abdurrahman, according to Stanislaus Riyanta, an intelligence and security analyst at the University of Indonesia.

In 2018, a Jakarta court sentenced Aman to death for orchestrating attacks carried out by JAD militants.

“They have a person in charge, Syaifulloh (alias Daniel), who is believed to be in Afghanistan,” Stanislaus told BenarNews.

The Indonesian Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center, a government anti-money laundering agency, detected transfers of funds from Syaifulloh to pro-IS militants in Indonesia, Stanislaus said, adding that JAD militants had formed small cells to avoid police detection.

“That’s why in the last three years we’ve heard so much about JAD members who acted as lone wolves or couples who committed suicide bombings. The smaller the cell, the more difficult it is to trace,” he said.

Although such attacks often cause little damage and few casualties, security authorities must step up their vigilance, he said.

“Many JAD combatants are not well-trained, but they always learn, both from books and the internet, and they are determined to carry out attacks,” Stanislaus said.

Khairul Fahmi, a terrorism analyst at the Institute for Security and Strategic Studies, said he believed the small cells that have emerged recently were not necessarily part of the JAD network.

“Because they might actually be just sympathizers, supporters of ISIS … who are not directly under the command of JAD,” Khairul told BenarNews, using another acronym for Islamic State.

Khairul said it was important for the authorities not to rush into classifying pro-IS groups as JAD.

“By making such claims, police fall into JAD’s propaganda trap, creating a perception that the group is still large and that they are everywhere,” he said.

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