Indonesia: Police Foil Plot to Target Presidential Palace with Chemical Bombs

Rina Chadijah
Jakarta
2017-08-15
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170815_ID_Suspects_terrorism_1000.jpg Indonesian police stand outside police headquarters in North Sumatra’s Medan city after two suspected militants stabbed a police officer to death, June 25, 2017.
AFP

Indonesian police said Tuesday that they foiled an Islamic State-linked terror plot to attack the Presidential Palace with chemical bombs, by arresting five suspects and seizing explosives and bomb-making material in raids near the capital Jakarta.

Investigators uncovered the plot while interrogating two of the suspects – a husband and wife – who revealed that they were planning to launch their attacks this month, possibly on Aug. 17 to coincide with the country’s Independence Day, Yusri Yunus, a spokesman for West Java provincial police, told BenarNews.

Members of Densus 88, the police’s counter-terrorist special forces squad, and officers with the province’s police force found the chemicals while raiding a house in Bandung, the capital of West Java located about 151 km (94 miles) from Jakarta.

During the raid officers found a “ready-to-detonate chemical bomb” that was different from pressure-cooker bombs, which are often filled with buckshot pellets and nails, Yusri said.

“This bomb, upon explosion, can burn your skin and, if it is inhaled, can cause breathing problems and it can burn organs,” Yusri said in a phone interview.

“They were planning to detonate a chemical bomb at the Mobile Brigade Command Headquarters in Depok, targeting police officers working in the field, [and] also in the State Palace,” Yusri said. Depok is a densely-populated city on the southern border of Jakarta.

Yusri said members of a police forensic laboratory team had to wear oxygen masks during the raid.

“The smell was quite strong,” he said.

The five suspects were believed to be affiliated with the Bandung chapter of the militant group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD).

In January, the U.S. State Department tagged JAD as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist group, describing it as a terror group that was formed in 2015 and composed of almost two dozen Indonesian extremist groups that had pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The designation prohibits U.S. citizens from engaging in transactions with JAD, and it freezes properties of people linked to the group.

In January 2016, four people were killed and 25 wounded during an attack by a suicide bomber and gunmen in central Jakarta. The attack, claimed by Islamic State, was attributed to JAD militants who were financially supported by an Indonesian militant based in Syria, the state department said.

The arrests of the five JAD suspects followed last week’s arrests by Indonesian authorities of four men who, police said, were suspected of helping people travel to join terrorist groups in Syria and the southern Philippines.

Deported from Hong Kong

Yusri told BenarNews that the married couple in custody learned how to make bombs from a blog written by Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian militant fighting alongside Islamic State forces in Syria, and by communicating with IS militants through the encrypted messaging service Telegram.

“The interrogation revealed that the husband and wife had been deported from Hong Kong for teaching radical ideology,” Yusri said.

“The information so far says that they were planning to act this month. It could be on Aug. 17 or in late August,” he said, referring to the foiled plot against the presidential palace in Jakarta.

“We will do a deeper investigation and look for those who are linked to this group. Especially those who are directly involved in this plan of action,” he said.

Among the five who were arrested were three men – ranging in age from 20 to 30, he said.

Police previously said they had obtained information through messages shared on social media that militants were planning to target officers who would be deployed during country’s Independence Day celebrations coming up on Thursday.

“It has appeared several times in social media that they will launch an attack using bombs or if they do not have a bomb, they will use weapons or they will crash into the police office,” police spokesman Setyo Wasisto was quoted as saying in the news portal detik.com.

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