Militant training camp discovered in Poso

Khabar Southeast Asia

Militant training camp discovered in Poso

Officials say the hills and forests of Central Sulawesi – once the scene of horrific sectarian conflict – have become a haven for terrorists

A major security operation under way in Poso, Central Sulawesi has uncovered a suspected terrorist training site on Gunung Biru (Blue Mountain), not far from the place where the dead bodies of two missing policemen were found in early October, multiple media have reported.

Police found weapons, hiding places dug in the ground and the word “jihad” written on a tree at the site, a clearing about two hectares in size in the midst of a thick forest.

Live mines, apparently placed to target security forces, were successfully deactivated, Central Sulawesi Police Chief Dewa Parsana told the Antara News Agency. A 300-strong joint force of police and soldiers is combing the area, hunting for militants and any other explosives that could harm local residents working in a nearby cocoa plantation.

The clearing is about 2km from where two missing policemen were found on October 16th, buried together in a hole, their throats slit. They had been sent to the area to investigate an alleged paramilitary training camp linked to extremist Islamist group Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT).

Terrorism hotbed

The following day, security forces mounted an aggressive operation in the area which is still unfolding. Major events are summarised here. [LINK TO TIMELINE]

Officials say that militants who once gathered in the hills of Aceh have decamped to Central Sulawesi, a place already scarred by a history of Christian-Muslim violence.

“Since 2010, terrorist groups wanted to make Aceh a militant training base because of the geographical reason. But we have successfully defeated their plan,” National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) head Ansyaad Mbai told Khabar Southeast Asia.

“Therefore they looked for a new place, which ended up in Poso. They chose Poso because of its geography and history, since Poso was a conflict area back in 1998 and 2000.”

From the late 1990s to the mid-2000s, Poso was home to sectarian conflict between Muslims and Christians in which 1,000 people were reportedly killed.

Since then, Poso has become a terrorism hotbed, hosting several terrorism cells. The groups are trying to reignite sectarian conflict in the region, Mbai said.

“Their goal is to establish an Islamic state based on their version of Sharia Islam.” Ansyaad said. “If the scenario goes as expected, they would call for a jihad,” he said.

“However, the local communities are aware of what is happening. They are not easily provoked because they have been suffering from previous experiences,” he said. Experts: terrorists trying to use Poso as base

At a recent forum in Jakarta, terrorism expert Solahuddin said that militants are trying to establish a new jihad movement in Poso by uniting smaller cells from all over Indonesia, including those based in Medan and Java.

“They were all united through the military training. They got funded from cyber robbery,” said Solahuddin, a journalist who wrote “From NII to JI: Salafi Jihadism in Indonesia”.

Fugitive terrorist Santoso, thought to be the current leader of the Poso movement, was enflamed after police recently arrested members of the Al-Qaeda Indonesia network, including a man arrested in Palu, Sulawesi.

“That led to the kidnapping of police officers and the bombing of a police post, and they now challenge police officers to an open war,” Solahuddin said.

Caught in the crossfire

The security operation has been costly for local residents. Twenty-two people swept up in a sunrise raid in Kayamanya village and released that evening are taking complaints of heavy-handed police techniques to the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas Ham), according to reports.

Residents have also protested the deaths of two local people – militant suspects, according to police – shot dead in the course of the raids.

Ansyaad said one of the biggest problems in combating terrorism in Poso is religious sensitivity and misinterpretation of what is happening.

“Often time, the counterterrorism operation tends to be misinterpreted as repressive to religious activities because the terrorist groups always claim their activities as religious activities,” he said. “The terrorist tends to claim that what they are doing is a religious struggle, which is very easily used to provoke society.”

At the same time, local officials and citizens support counterterrorism efforts in Poso because they are tired of the terrorists’ activities.

“Even the local government is worried that terrorist groups’ activities can trigger the sectarian conflict in Poso. And local communities also have been sick and tired with the terrorist groups’ activities. But they are too afraid to report it to the police,” he said. “However, residents have shown their support to the law enforcement officers to combat the growth of terrorism in Poso.”

Security incidents in Poso, Sulawesi: October 8th – November 8th

October 8:

Two policemen sent to investigate reports of a terror training camp last seen alive in Tamenjeka village, Poso Pesisir district, Central Sulawesi.

October 16:

The two are found buried together in a hole with their throats slit, near where they were last seen.

October 17th:

Security forces begin a massive operation to capture the perpetrators, combing the Tamanjeka mountain range, where they believe terrorists are hiding.

October 22:

A church in Madale, Poso is torched. About four hours later, a pair of bombs explode at a traffic police post in Poso City, the regency’s capital.

October 23:

Police detonate a home-made bomb found in Tonipa, Poso.

October 28:

Police find a bomb capable of triggering a “massive” explosion in the yard of a house in Tamanjeka.

October 31:

Anti-terrorism forces arrest five suspected terrorists in Kalora village, Poso Pesisir Utara district. One man, identified as wanted terror suspect Jipo, is killed in the operation.

November 3rd:

Detachment 88 tracks down two more suspected terrorists, identified as MY and K, in Kayamanya village. K is shot dead after he flings explosives at police. MY is arrested. The same day, soldiers discover an apparent militant training camp not far from Tamanjeka.

November 8th:

Police detonate a bomb found behind a home in Landangan, Poso. They say it is similar to explosives found at the militant training site.

Arrests in Java yield new crop of terror suspects

Khabar Southeast Asia

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.

Terrorists increasingly use web for recruitment

Khabar Southeast Asia

Terrorists increasingly use web for recruitment

For terror groups, the Internet has become a useful tool to recruit would-be jihadists. The Indonesian authorities are doing their best to keep pace.

Technological advancements have enabled terrorists to wage online propaganda campaigns through “hundreds” of jihad-themed websites, experts warn.

Terrorists’ use of the Internet to spread their messages began in 2002 when Imam Samudra claimed responsibility for the Bali bombings via, according to Noor Huda Ismail, executive director of the International Institute for Peace Building.

Ten years later, “there are hundreds of Internet sites” used to spread jihadist propaganda in Indonesia, run by groups and individuals, Noor Huda told Khabar Southeast Asia.

“There are also some individuals who manage several websites at one time,” he said. “They usually use social media and/or free blog hosting such as Facebook or Blogpot to post information or ideas about jihad.”

He said the Internet is one of the most effective ways for extremists to deliver their messages and find like-minded people.

Jakarta-based journalist Solahudin told Khabar that those websites contain information about jihad and Islam in general, and therefore tend to be attractive to their readers and followers.

One of the most popular topics on such sites, he said, is how to make a bomb from regular kitchen items.

“They can easily find out how to make bombs cheaply. They can purchase the ingredients such as match powder and also sugar without being noticed,” he said. “That was actually what happened in Umar Bin Khattab boarding school in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara. They assembled a bomb with knowledge gained from the Internet.”

The principal of the school was sentenced to 17 years in jail for preaching militant jihad and teaching his students to make bombs after a bomb exploded at the school on July 11, 2011, killing one person.

A Tangerang-based Islamic news portal,, which provides information about jihad, published a letter on October 15th challenging Detachment 88 to an open fight.

According to the website, the letter was written by Abu Wardah, alias Santoso, the self-styled “Commander of Mujahideen in Eastern Indonesia,” who is on the police most wanted list.

The letter, written in Indonesian, Arabic and English, was first released by, a site which also contains updates on jihad preparation in Poso and can only be accessed by members.

“In order to be a member with those kinds of websites, a person will need a recommendation from another member. Other than that, the website opens registration during certain periods of time,” Noor Huda said. “They do not want the information to be accessed freely.”

In 2006, Detachment 88 arrested three men for helping create and maintain on the order of Noordin M. Top, a bomb-maker killed in 2009, with the purpose of spreading jihad propaganda.

Abdul Aziz, a high school computer teacher who designed the site, was sentenced to 10 years in prison that same year. Agung Prabowo was given three years in 2007 for purchasing the domain name and a hosting account, while Agung Setyadi was sentenced to six years for sending a laptop to Imam Samudra, who was jailed in Bali at the time.

The Ministry of Communication and Information claims it has been blocking many websites since electronic transaction and information regulations were set up in 2008.

“Unlike before, when we only blocked websites on request, we now have a system which automatically blocks any website that contains negative stuff, including pornography and radicalism,” Gatot Dewa Broto, a spokesman for the ministry, told Khabar.

However, Gatot said, the ministry faces several obstacles in its efforts to block such websites, including limited bandwidth and human resources.

“If we block all the websites, it would hamper the public’s Internet access and we’d rather avoid that,” he said. “Secondly, we lack enough people who can keep monitoring the websites which contain negative material. It needs to be understood that we cannot just block any website based on like and dislike; it requires verification.”

Indonesia has 220 Internet service providers, he said; monitoring them is a big job.

“With all of these problems, we keep trying to improve,” he said.

Indonesia preparing amendment to terrorism laws: Ansyaad Mbai

Khabar Southeast Asia

Indonesia preparing amendment to terrorism laws: Ansyaad Mbai

In the second part of an exclusive interview, Indonesia’s counterterrorism chief describes ways about how Indonesian law and prison facilities make his job tougher.

A great weakness of the Indonesian legal system is that it does not authorise action against the “spiritual mentors” of militants, Ansyaad Mbai, head of the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), told Khabar Southeast Asia in an exclusive interview last week.

To address that weakness, the government is preparing an amendment to the 2003 anti-terrorism law, Ansyaad said in a wide-ranging discussion on security issues in which he described ongoing obstacles to fighting terrorism, as well as concrete actions his agency is taking.

The legal protection of hate speech, poor prison facilities and a too-soft approach to terrorism convicts are among the obstacles outlined by the counterterrorism chief.

Rooting out radical ideology will be a long-term effort requiring broad support from civil society and moderate clergy, he said. Many former militants are co-operating with the effort, what he called one of the most effective methods of stemming radicalisation.

Free speech, or hate speech?

The recent arrests of some more than ten terror suspects in Solo suggest that the city remains a focus of illegal activity, despite concerted efforts to stomp out terrorism.

Terrorism persists in the central Javanese city because there are so many ideological figures or “spiritual mentors” who still actively preach radical messages there, Ansyaad said.

“Unfortunately, the Indonesian legal system has not yet categorised those activities as criminal actions. It’s what I consider a great weakness of our legal system” he told Khabar.

“Actually many religious leaders have urged us to take serious actions against the figures who are actively spreading hatred and enmity in the name of religion. But we do not have the authority to do so,” he explained.

“Those hate-filled speeches are still categorised as freedom of speech.” Ansyaad added that Indonesia is currently finalising a draft amendment of 2003 Anti-terrorism law that would add hate speech activity as a criminal action. “By adding the hate speech as criminal activity, we can be more proactive in countering terrorism. It is because that (hate speech) is actually the first step of the radicalism process and terrorism,” he said.

Radicalised in prison

Indonesian law also mandates a “soft approach” in handling terror detainees, he said. For example, infamous firebrand cleric and convicted terrorist Abu Bakar Bashir has never been compelled to wear a prison uniform, and is able to continue preaching from prison.

“So we have not only a soft approach, but a too-soft approach,” he said. Ansyaad admitted that Indonesia faces a challenge in curbing the spread of militant ideology in its overburdened prisons.

In March, counterterrorism forces shot dead five suspects believed to have been planning a series of attacks in Bali, which this week marks the tenth anniversary of the worst-ever terrorism attacks on Indonesian soil, the 2002 bombings in Kuta.

Three of the five suspects were former drug dealers who were radicalised by Bali bombers Imam Samudra and Amrozi in Kerobokan prison.

“It is indeed one of our biggest obstacles, minimal facilities that become overloaded. It’s a dilemma,” he said. “If we place all the terrorists in one block, then they will reunite. But if the terrorists are placed with non-terrorists, the non-terrorist can become a terrorist.”

Even if Indonesia were to isolate terrorists in a single facility, it would still be necessary to separate the high-risk prisoners from the low-risk ones, he said.

“So prisons keep trying to improve, but with limited facilities,” he said.

Reaching the ‘brother community’

The national deradicalisation programme Indonesia is currently developing has two main targets: terrorists in prison or police custody, and the broader “brother community” that provides support for terrorists.

“The first objective has been achieved in many countries. But the second objective, targeting the brother community, is a big job and require a long-term strategy,” he said. “We need the involvement of moderate religious leaders and also non-governmental organisations.”

A main goal of the effort is to neutralise radical messages about the meaning of jihad and the treatment of non-believers, for example. A key strategy will be to use former militants to denounce terrorism.

“Experience has shown, the best way to catch a thief is by using a thief. The fact that terrorists complain about this tactic shows that it is effective,” he said.

More than 50 former Indonesian militants who trained in Afghanistan have agreed to co-operate in a BNPT deradicalisation programme, visiting 14 prisons in ten big cities throughout the country “to convince others that what they were doing was wrong,” he said.

“We need more and more like them,” he said. “The more ex-terrorists who oppose terrorism, the better. And certainly that will make terrorists complain,” he said.

For the first part of the interview with Ansyaad, click here.

Bomb-makers getting more sophisticated: Ansyaad Mbai

Khabar Southeast Asia

Bomb-makers getting more sophisticated: Ansyaad Mbai

Terrorism remains a real threat in Indonesia, and the target has shifted to the “near enemy”, Indonesian police chief of the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), Ansyaad Mbai told Khabar Southeast Asia in an exclusive interview last week. [Elisabeth Oktofani/Khabar]

The latest terrorism-related arrests net some long-time militants with a grim new group name and deadlier bombs

Terrorism remains a real threat in Indonesia, and militants are becoming more sophisticated at bomb-making, Ansyaad Mbai, head of the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), told Khabar Southeast Asia in an exclusive interview Thursday (October 4th).

“With this latest case, the terrorism threat is still real,” Ansyaad said, referring to a string of arrests in September of suspects who claim they belong to Al-Qaeda Indonesia.

No evidence has been found of links to international terrorists. “We have found no evidence of that. But they did indeed plan to form a network called Al-Qaeda Indonesia,” he said.

Suspects picked up in a series of incidents in late September in Solo, Central Java and Depok, West Java appear to have been more creative and sophisticated than other terror groups in assembling bombs, employing, among other items, plastic food containers and rice cookers.

Police seized liquid nitroglycerin bombs packed in plastic bags, four pipe bombs, two bottle bombs, 4kg of sulphur, 5kg of gunpowder and several mobile phones.

“They have become more sophisticated. It can be seen from the latest evidence which was found: they have prepared the liquid bomb. In fact, our explosive experts considered that the bomb has higher capacity than the previous homemade bomb.” Ansyaad said.

Old group, new name

In a series of raids starting on September 22nd, police detained nine terrorist suspects: Badri Hartono, Rudi Kurnia Putra, Khumaidi, Fajar Novianto, Barkah Nawah Saputra, Triyatno, Arif Pamungkas, Joko Priyanto alias Joko Jihad, and Wendy Febriangga alias Hasan.

Other suspects are still being sought by police, he said, stressing, however, that they do not represent a new group.

Some of the detainees are former members of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT), a hardline Islamic group once led by cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.

“So it’s not new at all. There are even some who have served prison time,” he said.

“Since the 2002 Bali bombings, Jemaah Islamiyah has been broken down into numbers of small groups or cells, but the cells are still in touch with one another. Later, when the name changed to Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid, their leader is still Abu Bakar Bashir,” he explained.

“Therefore it needs to be understood that even though they have been changing their name many times, these actually are not new groups. Each group still has the old figures and recruits new members.”

“At a certain level, these groups can reunite to carry out another action. Like now, we can see each group has its plan and carries it out in several different places… So you can’t say it’s new or, as some say, fourth generation. It’s not relevant to classify it in that way,” he said.

New targets

Their goals remain the same, but their targets have shifted over the past decade.

“Before the emphasis was the West, the ‘far enemy.’ Now it’s more the ‘near enemy’. Why? Because they have experienced — over these more than ten years — that in fact what most obstructs their movement is the ‘near enemy’, and the enemy that is nearest to them is the police,” he said.

Their goal, he added, is to establish an Islamic state based on their version of Sharia Islam.

“Careful when you write Sharia Islam…it’s ‘their version of Sharia Islam’,” he said.

Authorities have found no evidence of foreign money flowing to radicals in Indonesia. But 2012 saw evidence of multiple approaches employed to raise money at home.

“It appears that their pattern now is to focus domestically, stealing over the Internet, or using the conventional way, which is by robbing banks or gold shops or whatever they can,” he said.

In May, authorities arrested alleged hackers Rizki Gunawan in Jakarta and Cahya Fitriyanta in Bandung, who managed to break into a multi-level marketing website and obtain almost 5,937 billion rupiah ($617,150) – money used, according to police, to fund terror activities including militant training in Poso and the bombing of a church in Solo last year.

On Monday (October 8th), Cahya Fitriyanta’s trial began in West Jakarta District Court. He faces multiple charges including hacking, money laundering and supporting terrorism.

Depok bomb blast aborts sinister plans

Khabar Southeast Asia

Depok bomb blast aborts sinister plans

Residents of Depok, West Java watch on Sunday (September 9th) as police investigate the scene of a bomb blast the night before. The explosion injured at least six people, including a man suspected of making the bomb. [Elisabeth Oktofani/Khabar]

The men exposed by an accidental bomb blast in Depok, West Java were planning acts of terrorism, police say.

One surrendered at a police station, wearing a suicide belt and pining for his family. Another lies in a police hospital, unrecognisable, burns covering 70% of his body.

Just prior to an explosion at 9:30 pm Saturday (September 8th), the two men met at a house in Beji, Depok that advertised itself as an orphanage but turned out to be a bomb factory.

The blast at the so-called Pondok Bidara Orphanage Foundation injured at least six people, most of them neighbours who lived just behind the bomb site.

The victims are Nanut Triaman (62), Bagus Kuncoro (20), Taufik (32), Wulandari (27), Fajruddin (27), and a man originally identified only as Mr X because the severity of his injuries made immediate identification impossible.

Suspected of being a bomb maker, Mr X was brought to the Kramat Jati Police Hospital in East Jakarta for intensive treatment, according to Boy Rafli Amar, the spokesman for the Indonesian National Police.

“His right hand was damaged badly. His neck was hit by some kind of hard object, and his face has been badly burned,” he told reporters Sunday (September 9th) in Jakarta.

After the explosion, neighbours saw two men escape by motorcycle. “We’re monitoring hospitals and clinics because one of them is believed to have suffered burns,” Boy said. “We strongly believe that the suspects were involved in assembling the bomb.”

Police did not have to wait long to nab one of the fugitives. At around 5:30 on Sunday (September 9th), 32-year-old Muhammad Toriq – also spelled Toriq in some reports — turned himself in at Tambora police office in West Jakarta.

An explosives belt was strapped to his body, which he handed to police, along with a gun and ammunition, Jakarta police spokesman Col. Rikwanto said.

“He turned himself in because he missed his family,” Rikwanto said, according to The Jakarta Globe.

Planned suicide attack

Prior to his surrender, Thorik had considered blowing himself up at a police office or a Buddhist centre, Boy later told reporters in an update on the unfolding events.

According to Boy, the suspect planned to detonate a suicide bomb at one of four potential targets: Depok Mobil Brigade (Brimob) headquarters, the National Police Detachment 88 office in Jakarta, a police building in Salemba, Central Jakarta, or a Buddhist centre. The planned attack was a deluded attempt at revenge for the treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Burma.

Thorik had escaped from the police twice before he surrendered. He first escaped on September 5th after a neighbour reported smoke coming from his house in Tambora, West Jakarta.

The smoke turned out to be a cloud of explosive material that had accidently spilled. When police arrived at the house, Thorik was gone, but they took his mother Iyot, 71, his wife Sri Haryani, and his three-year-old son Mohammad Gabriel to the police station.

Thorik was at the “orphanage” in Depok when the bomb exploded but fled before police arrived.

Earlier, police thought that the critically injured man was Thoriq. But his identity has since been confirmed as Anwar, a relative of suspected militant Arif Hidayat who was arrested Monday (September 10th) in Bojonggede, Bogor, West Java, according to media reports.

A deadly “orphanage”

Based on the severity of his injuries, police think Anwar was making the bomb, perhaps even holding it, when the explosion occurred.

From the scene, police also seized three grenades, six pipes filled with explosive material, one Beretta pistol, homemade guns, small-arms ammunition, 7kg of potassium chlorate, nails, five 9-volt batteries, detonators, cables, and electronic switches.

Police also found some books related to terrorism and a goodbye letter at the scene.

A banner with the words Pondok Bidara Orphanage Foundation hung from the front of the building. Another sign indicated the place was an alternative “cupping therapy” clinic. However, local residents never saw any patients or orphans.

According to Joko, 60, a neighbourhood drinks seller, the person who rented the room had been living there since last month.

“I have never seen any activities because the gate was always locked. I tried to see the person to ask for the monthly rent, but I could not enter,” said Nurhassanah, 37, a community leader whose husband heads the neighbourhood watch (Rukun Tetangga/RT).

Boy said police had been monitoring activity at the house. It is not new for terrorists to use a business front to mask criminal activities, he said.

“Legitimate business activities have been used by terror suspects in many cases. In Wonosobo, for instance, they used their place to sell clothes,” he explained.

Boy said that people need to be aware of newcomers in their neighbourhoods because many terror suspects associate with the community and carry out normal activities.

“It is very important for the community chief to ask for and collect a copy of the identity card from new residents in their community,” he said.

New generation of terrorists shadowing Indonesia

Khabar Southeast Asia

New generation of terrorists shadowing Indonesia

Boy Rafli Amar, National Police spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday that the youthful terror suspects in Solo had links to older extremist organisations. [Elisabeth Oktofani/Khabar].

The young men who carried out the Idul Fitri attacks in Solo belonged to a new terror network with links to established groups, police say.

A new breed of radical extremists is posing a security threat to Indonesia, officials and analysts say, citing a recent series of attacks in Solo as an example.

Two young men, Farhan Mujahidin (19) and Mukhsin Sanny Permady (20), were shot dead by counterterrorism police during an August 31st raid, after allegedly staging assaults on police posts. A third suspect, Bayu Setiono, is under arrest.

According to Brigadier General Boy Rafli Amar, spokesman for the National Police, the men appear to belong to a newly-formed extremist group – but one which is affiliated with long-standing terror networks, and with the hardline Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) organisation.

Farhan, for instance, was the stepson of convicted terrorist Abu Umar, currently in prison for smuggling firearms from the Philippines to Indonesia, and for organising a paramilitary training camp in 2008.

In 2010, police say, Farhan resided in the Philippines, where his stepfather obtained support for launching a terrorist attack, including plans to attack the Singaporean Embassy in Jakarta.

Bayu also had a connection with the Philippines, according to police. They say he was involved in smuggling firearms and had joined the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.

Weapons seized during the August 31st raid included an Italian-made Beretta pistol stamped “PNP [Philippine National Police] property”. According to Boy, the suspects underwent physical training at Mount Merbabu in Boyolali district, and may have earlier received training in combat strategy at other camps in Aceh or Mindanao.

He said they targeted Solo, also known as Surakarta, because they were familiar with the location. But the city was just the starting point for a broader campaign of terror attacks.

“As they used to study at the Al-Mukmin Ngruki Islamic boarding school, they are familiar with the location and have contacts there where they can hide. Therefore, they could remove any trace of their presence more easily,” Boy said.

Andi Widjajanto, a security analyst from the University of Indonesia, told Khabar Southeast Asia on Wednesday (September 5) that terrorists have been targeting police and the Indonesian government ever since the execution of three Bali bombers in November 2008.

Amrozi, Ali Ghufron and Imam Samudra were found guilty and sentenced to death for their role in the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people. Speaking by phone to Khabar, acting JAT leader Mochammad Achwan denied that the terror suspects were members of his organisation.

“I have asked JAT members whether they knew the two suspects or not, but they said that they did not know them,” he said.”I am very upset that officials always link terror suspects with our organisation”.

JAT was founded by the firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, convicted in June 2011 and sentenced to 15 years in jail for helping to organise a jihadi training camp in Aceh. He is viewed as the chief ideologist and spiritual mentor of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), implicated in the Bali bombings.

On Friday, Indonesian counterterrorism chief Ansyaad Mbai said that JAT was linked to the Solo attacks as well as a planned assault on the Indonesian Parliament in Jakarta.

“There are several small groups (whose) underground works are not related to each other, but they all came from the JI and the JAT,” he told the AFP news agency, citing information revealed by Bayu during interrogation