Indonesian police killed two suspected militants in the latest raids aimed at preventing planned attacks during the Christmas and New Year holidays, a police spokesman said.
The suspects, identified as Abu Sofi and Abu Fais, were killed in a shootout with the anti-terror police squad Densus 88 when they raided a floating house at Jatiluhur Lake in the Purwakarta district in West Java on Sunday afternoon, said Brig. Gen. Rikwanto, chief of the national police’s public information bureau.
“There were two men there and there was a gunfight and we had to shoot them because they fought back when asked to surrender,” Rikwanto told reporters in Jakarta.
Police said they raided the house after receiving information from two suspects identified as Ivan and Rijal, who were arrested by the Densus 88 members at Ubrug village in Purwakarta district around 9 a.m. The village is about one kilometer from The Jatiluhur Lake.
Police said they fired five warning shots to force the suspects to surrender, but Abu Fais came toward officers while brandishing a machete, causing officers to shoot and kill him. Police also shot and killed Abu Sofi after he tried to fight officers using a knife and machete.
Rikwanto said police seized evidence including weapons and a letter indicating they planned to launch an attack during the holidays.
Police said both suspects are linked to the Jamaah Anshar Daulah (JAD) network affiliated with Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian who is believed to be in Syria and leading an Islamic State (IS) combat unit made up of Southeast Asian fighters. Police blame him for being the mastermind behind a terror attack in Jakarta on Jan. 14 that killed eight people, including the four attackers.
National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) Second Deputy Arif Darmawan said there is high potential of threat from a new cell led by Bahrun Naim because members have moved their focus from the Middle East to Southeast Asia.
“So now they tend to execute acts of terror in their respective territories,” he said.
BNPT and police have said they prepared for terror threats by adding security personnel in several locations.
“We will do security checking, patrol in several public places including malls, amusement parks and churches,” Arif told BenarNews.
On Thursday, Indonesia President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo discussed preparations for securing the nation and called on the army to assist police in maintaining security during the security operation code named “Candle 2016” through Jan. 1.
National police Chief Tito Karnavian said 85,000 of his police, 15,000 military personnel and 50,000 others including as security guards, municipal police, Ministry of Transportation personnel and others will be deployed during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Meanwhile, police said officers thwarted potential Christmas and New Year’s attacks Wednesday when they killed three suspects and captured four others. Police said they relied on testimony from a female would-be suicide bomber who had been captured earlier Dec. 10 before she was able to blow herself up during a changing-of-the-guard ceremony outside the Presidential Palace.
Three extradited from Turkey
The head of foreign ministry's director for the protection of Indonesian nationals and entities abroad, Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, said three Indonesian were extradited from Turkey after allegedly joining Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF) in Syria.
“They were arrested by the Turkish police on Dec. 22 in Hatay, Turkey, and sent back to Indonesia yesterday. Hatay is a city near Raqqa where a lot of people travel before going to Syria,” he said.
The three are identified as Tomi Gunawan, 18, of Pekanbaru, Riau province, Jang Johana, 25, of Bandung, West Java, and Irfan, 21, of Jakarta.
“They arrived yesterday and were handed over to police to be questioned in Mobile Brigade Command Headquarters detention center in Depok, West Java,” he said. “Based on their testimonies, they do not know each other,” he said.
Since January 2015, 220 Indonesians have been deported by the Turkish government over attempts to travel to Syria to join IS.
Attacks tied to Guantanamo prisoner
Al Chaidar, a terrorism analyst from the Malikussaleh University in Lhokseumawe, Aceh, said Wednesday’s raids were connected to a doctrine issued in 2000 by Hambali, a former leader of the Southeast Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiyah. Hambali is incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, and had earlier called for attacks to be carried out during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
“The main target is police because they believe police are taghout so they should be attacked,” Chaidar told BenarNews, using a term from Islamic theology that refers to idolatry or to the worship of anything except Allah.
Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata contributed to this report.