Indonesian police have arrested six suspected militants from Islamic State-linked Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), including two of the group’s leaders in East Java and some “closely related” to a family behind the deadly 2018 Surabaya church bombings, a police spokesman said Monday.
The suspects were arrested by the Densus 88 police anti-terrorism unit in separate locations in East Java between Thursday and Saturday, national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo told reporters.
Two of them, identified only by their initials, H.S. and B.L., were allegedly JAD’s emirs, or leaders, for Madura and Lamongan regencies, respectively, Dedi said.
“Some of these people are very closely related to the Surabaya bombing suspects, at least know the planning process of the Surabaya bombings, both at the places of worship and the Surabaya resort police attacks,” Dedi said.
He was referring to a series of attacks in May 2018, when two families carried out suicide bombings on three churches and a police station in Surabaya, killing 24 people, including children as young as 9 who joined their parents in the attacks.
Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has been hit by a string of terrorist attacks in the past two decades.
Attacks in recent years have been blamed on JAD, a local militant network affiliated with Islamic State.
JAD founder and ideologue Aman Abdurrahman was sentenced to death last year for his role in some of the attacks. The group was also declared illegal in July last year.
Dedi said H.S. and B.L. had attended several meetings organized by JAD, including one in the East Java city of Malang in 2014, which was also attended by Saiful Muthohir, who is serving a nine-year sentence for a January 2016 attack in the capital Jakarta.
The gun and bomb attack in Jakarta’s central business district killed four of the attackers and four bystanders.
Police said B.L. had taken part in military training led by Saiful in Batu, East Java, in 2015.
Three other suspects, identified by their initials K.J., S., and I.P.S., were aware of the purchase of firearms by Anang Rustianto, a JAD militant who was arrested in June last year, Dedi said.
A sixth suspect, identified as Y.T., was arrested after he allegedly robbed a gold shop in East Java’s Magetan regency on Saturday.
The suspect asked for money from a gold shop attendant while pointing a toy gun and was given 10 million rupiah (U.S. $701) by the cashier, police said.
He then left with five gold rings and three bracelets but was arrested in the parking lot.
Police seized two cans thought to be homemade bombs, one bayonet, an airsoft gun, and two boxes of air rifle bullets from the suspect.
“There are also liquid objects that are still being studied in the laboratory, to find out whether they contain chemicals including TATP (triacetone triperoxide, a high explosive),” Dedi said.