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Indonesian Authorities Uncover Plot to Attack Police District HQ

Rina Chadijah
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Indonesian police officers walk outside the house of the family that carried out the bombing of the Surabaya police headquarters in Surabaya, Indonesia, May 15, 2018.
Indonesian police officers walk outside the house of the family that carried out the bombing of the Surabaya police headquarters in Surabaya, Indonesia, May 15, 2018.

Indonesian authorities have arrested four suspected Islamic State supporters after uncovering a plot to attack a police district headquarters, a police spokesman said Wednesday.

Members of the anti-terror squad Densus 88 made the arrests Tuesday in two locations, Syahar Diantoro, head of the police’s general information section, told reporters.

“They were planning to launch an amaliyah at the Kebumen District Police Office,” Syahar said. “Amaliyah” is a term that radical groups often use to describe a terror attack.

“They belong to the ISIS network, based on the results of the interim examination. We are still investigating whether they are related to JAD,” he said, referring to Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a local militant group that has pledged allegiance to ISIS, another acronym for the extremist group Islamic State (IS).

Three of the suspects, 18 to 33 years old, were arrested in Cimahi, West Java district, while a 26-year-old man was arrested in Central Java’s Kebumen district, Syahar said.

He said authorities had detected and foiled the terror plot by monitoring Telegram, an encrypted messaging app popular among IS supporters.

Brig. Gen. Muhammad Iqbal, the national police spokesman, told BenarNews that the arrests were part of a police operation to hunt down terror networks in the country.

“Of course, this is part of the developments we are undertaking to prevent acts of terror throughout the regions,” he said.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, has faced a resurgence of recent extremist attacks as security analysts warn that dozens of its citizens would be returning home after fighting for IS in the Middle East.

The country of 262 million people moved to revise its 2003 anti-terror law in May this year after a wave of recent deadly bombings put the spotlight on lawmakers.

Legal experts said the revised law gives police enhanced powers to take pre-emptive action, including detention of suspects for longer periods, and formalizes the military’s role in counterterrorism efforts.

More arrests after Surabaya bombings

Three church bombings in Surabaya on May 13 and one bomb blast at an apartment near the city and the attack at the Surabaya police headquarters the following day claimed 27 lives, including 13 perpetrators, police said. The attackers had ties to JAD, according to investigators.

At least 96 suspected militants have been arrested since those attacks, Iqbal said, adding that police had also killed 14 suspects when they resisted arrest.

“Later we will announce the data of who are the suspects and who are proven to be not guilty. We are always open,” he said.

In August last year, Indonesia lifted its threat to ban Telegram, which has several million users in the country, after the company’s co-founder and CEO, Pavel Durov, met Rudiantara, the minister of Communications and Information, in Jakarta, and promised to eradicate terrorist propaganda and content.

Iqbal said the monitoring of terrorist movements included overseeing social media.

“In addition to the information we get from the arrested suspected terrorists, we also watch their movements in social media,” he said.

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