Arrests in Java yield new crop of terror suspects

Arrests in Java yield new crop of terror suspects

A police officer assists with an investigation at a house in Palmerah, West Jakarta where Detachment 88 arrested three suspected terrorists on Saturday (October 27th). A total of 11 alleged militants were arrested in four provinces. [Clara Prima/Khabar]

As new terror plots come to light, religious leaders lament how radicalism is undermining Indonesian pluralism and harmony.

Eleven terror suspects arrested by anti-terrorism squad Detachment 88 in Java over the weekend are all new to law enforcement, police said Monday (October 29th).

“We are currently investigating their profile. It appears that their faces are 100% new. They have never been listed in the old networks,” national police spokesman Brigadier General Boy Rafli Amar told reporters in Jakarta.

“Even though their faces are 100% new, we strongly suspect that they have a strong relationship with old networks,” Boy said.

From Friday to Saturday, counterterrorism operations across Java yielded 11 suspects as well as home-made bombs, explosive material, ammunition and bomb-making manuals in four different locations.

At 8 pm Friday (October 26th), Detachment 88 forces arrested two suspected terrorists – Agus Anton and Warso – in Madiun, East Java.

On Saturday, the anti-terror squad picked up three terror suspects in Solo, Central Java – Abu Hanifah, Harun and Budianto. Abu Hanifah is the leader of the Sunni Movement for Indonesian Society (Harakah Sunni untuk Masyarakat Indonesia or HASMI).

The same day, anti-terror forces arrested three suspects in Bogor, West Java –Emir, Zainudin and Usman – and three more in Palmerah, West Jakarta: Azhar, Herman and Sunarto.

Group had ambitious plans for violence

All the detained men allegedly belonged to a network that was targeting US diplomatic missions and a Jakarta building that houses the offices of mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, according to police.

“This group targeted the US consulate in Surabaya, the US embassy in Jakarta, Plaza 89 in Jakarta, which is located in front of the Australian embassy and the office of Freeport, and also Mobile Police Brigade in Central Java,” national police spokesman Suhardi Alius told reporters in a press conference Saturday.

Boy added that based on current analysis of seized documents; the group wanted to attack foreigners because of the “Innocence of Muslims” film. “Other than that, the group also wants to attack the law enforcement officers,” he added.

Information leading to arrests was obtained from investigations of previous cases, tips from regular people and the use of technology to monitor activities, he said.

Religious leader: economy, misunderstandings of Islam sow militancy

Hearing of the arrests, Mustofa Bisri, a religious leader from Central Java, said the emergence of a new terror outfit was likely rooted in economic factors and mistaken religious convictions.

He urged the government to address economic disparities that can set the stage for young people to be led astray. Meanwhile, he said, religious leaders must set people straight about the true meaning of jihad.

“The government must be sensitive to immediately find solutions to radicalisation and terrorist movements in this country,” said the leader, affectionately known to his followers as Gus Mus. He spoke after attending a ceremony in remembrance of the late president Abdurrahman Wahid in Jombang East Java, on Sunday (October 28th).

Police raids alone will not extinguish terrorism, he cautioned: the root causes of radicalism must be addressed. Those efforts must be redoubled, because the movement keeps popping up and spawning new terrorists who are young people, he said.

“It’s very unfortunate that such movements continue to emerge and haunt the security of this nation,” Gus Mus said. “This country, which has embraced the ideology of pluralism, must maintain peace. Indonesia is a big country with the potential to show harmony to the world.”

“There will be no beauty in this country if violence and arrogant actions are called up to address every kind of problem,” echoed Salahuddin Wahid, the former president’s brother. HASMI group denies connection

Meanwhile, a Bogor based Islamic mass organisation named HASMI visited the National Police headquarters in Jakarta to deny any links with the suspected terrorists.

According to a press release published on their official website, the organisation has nothing to do with the HASMI terrorist group, but focuses on formal education and peaceful preaching.

Police spokesman Boy indicated it may be a case of the same name being used by two different groups – one a legitimate organisation, and the other a network of extremist militants.

“We strongly assume that HASMI (terrorist group) is different with Bogor based HASMI. We do not want to get stuck on the name of an organisation, but on what they are doing, what their plans are,” Boy said.

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