Indonesian Police Kill 2 JAD Suspects with Alleged Ties to Philippine Bombing

Ronna Nirmala
Indonesian Police Kill 2 JAD Suspects with Alleged Ties to Philippine Bombing Officers walk outside the site where counter-terrorist police killed two suspected militants during a raid in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, Jan. 6, 2021.

Police in Indonesia’s South Sulawesi province shot dead two suspected Islamic militants Wednesday with alleged links to Indonesian suicide bombers who attacked a church in the southern Philippines in 2019, officials said.

The suspects – a man and his son-in-law – were slain as they violently resisted arrest while officers moved in to take them and more than a dozen others into custody from a house in the provincial capital Makassar, the National Police said, initially identifying the two by their initials only.

“Two people identified as MRS, 46, and SA, 23, died because at the time of their arrest, both of them fought back using a machete and an air rifle,” police spokesman Ahmad Ramadhan said in a statement. A police report seen by Benar News named the dead suspects as Mohammad Rizaldy S and Sanjai Azis.

In his statement, Ramadan said they were members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an Indonesian militant group affiliated with Islamic State (IS). Police arrested 18 other JAD suspects during the raid, Ramadhan said, but declined to give details about them, saying police were investigating their roles in the group.

The two slain suspects and their relatives had tried to travel to Syria to join Islamic State in 2016, but were stopped at the airport in Jakarta, according to Inspector General Merdisyam, the police chief of South Sulawesi.

He said the pair was also tied to two Indonesians who carried out twin suicide bombings that killed 23 people at a church on Jolo, an island in the southern Philippines, in January 2019. The two Indonesian were counted among the dead.

Married couple Rullie Rian Zeke and Ulfah Handayani Saleh blew themselves up then at the church during a Sunday Mass service. More than 100 other people were injured in the blasts, according to Philippines authorities.

“They were the ones who sent money to the two suicide bombers at the church in Jolo, the Philippines,” Merdisyam, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told a press conference.

Police did not provide details on the alleged money transfers.

Ramadhan said the two suspects who were killed Wednesday had also helped a fellow militant from South Sulawesi, Andi Baso, flee to the Philippines.

Andi was a fugitive allegedly involved in a Molotov cocktail attack that targeted a church in the East Kalimantan city of Samarinda and killed a toddler. Three other children were injured in the explosion.

Philippines authorities believe Andi died in a shootout with government troops in late August 2020.

On Wednesday, officials with the Philippine military’s command for the Western Mindanao region in the south told BenarNews that they had not yet received official confirmation from authorities in Indonesia about the killings of the two JAD suspects.

Policemen and soldiers stand outside a bomb-hit church in Jolo, southern Philippines, Jan. 27, 2019. [AFP]

Makassar cell: ‘Most active’

In Makassar, police had been monitoring the activities of the suspected members of the local JAD cell for some time, Merdisyam said.

“The two suspects and their group headquartered in the Villa Mutiara housing complex and who call themselves Anshar Daulah, along with hundreds of others declared allegiance to the caliphate or ISIS,” Merdisyam said, using another acronym for IS.

Since October last year, the group had held regular shooting and mountain-climbing exercises, he added.

“The Makassar branch of JAD is the most active among other JAD branches and has the strongest commitment to action both at home and abroad,” Muhammad Taufiqurrohman, a senior researcher at the Center for Radicalism and Deradicalization Studies (PAKAR), an Indonesian think-tank, told BenarNews.

“Some of its members went to Poso to help MIT, but many were arrested by police,” he said.

He was referring to members of the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen group (MIT), a small pro-IS militant group, which has operated for years in Central Sulawesi province despite an ongoing joint manhunt for them by police and military personnel.  

According to PAKAR, the JAD group has branches in at least 13 Indonesian provinces. PAKAR estimates that JAD has fewer than 1,000 members.

Taufiqurrahman said at present the group had no overall leader after Aman Abdurrahman, who founded JAD, was sentenced to death by a Jakarta court in 2018 for his role in a January 2016 terrorist attack in Jakarta and other strikes.

Aman’s alleged successor, Zainal Anshori, was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2018.

Abu Bakar Bashir

In other news related to terrorism, Indonesian authorities are set to release radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir from prison on Friday, after his 15-year sentence on terror-linked charges was cut for good behavior.

Bashir is the 82-year-old former spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, the Southeast Asian affiliate of the al-Qaeda global terror network that was blamed for Indonesia’s deadliest terrorist attack – the Bali bombings that killed 202 people in 2002 – and other bombings across Indonesia.

Authorities never proved a link between Bashir and the Bali attacks of October 2002, but he was arrested in 2010 and a court found him guilty of helping fund a training camp for Islamic militants in Aceh province and inciting extremists to carry out attacks.

Mohammad Mahfud MD, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, said the government had a mechanism for monitoring former convicts like Bashir.

“It is Abu Bakar Bashir’s legal right to be freed because he has served his sentence in full,” Mahfud told reporters Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Australian Foreign Minister Marissa Payne said that freeing Bashir would distress the families and friends of Australians who were killed in the Bali bombings. Eighty-eight Australians died in the attack more than 18 years ago.

“Australia has always called for those involved to face tough, proportionate and just sentences,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Payne as saying on Wednesday.

“Decisions on sentencing are matters for the Indonesian justice system and we respect Indonesia’s sovereignty and the independence of its judiciary,” Payne said, adding, “Our embassy in Jakarta has made clear our concerns that such individuals be prevented from further inciting others to carry out future attacks against innocent civilians.”


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