Jakarta. Six individuals rounded up in a series of counterterrorism raids that began on Friday and ran into late Saturday reportedly planned to bomb Shiite communities in Java and Sumatra. Densus 88, the National Police’s counterterrorism squad, arrested three suspects in Central Java and three in West Java, and seized bomb-making materials and jihad manuals during the raids.
A series of unrelated raids in East Java netted four suspected members of another terrorist network.
“Based on the outcome of initial questioning, the suspects said they were planning to bomb a series of Shiite communities in Pekalongan [in Central Java], Bandung and Pekanbaru [in Riau],” a source at the National Police headquarters in Jakarta, who asked not to be identified because of the ongoing investigation, told the Jakarta Globe on Sunday.
Gen. Badrodin Haiti, the National Police chief, said separately that the raids were prompted by intelligence from the US Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Australian Federal Police.
“This terrorist network was preparing for bombing attacks in various locations in Indonesia. They are a mix of ISIS supporters,” Badrodin said, referring to one of the acronyms of the Sunni militant group Islamic State. “Some are ISIS members and others are sympathizers.”
He warned that “there are still others” and that Densus 88’s operation was still ongoing.
“That’s why we’re calling on the public to be vigilant and report anything suspicious,” Badrodin said.
Sr. Comr. Edy Hartono, the acting Densus chief, said the suspects appeared to be deeply influenced by Islamic State’s extremist views and wanted to replicate the group’s attacks on Shiites, whom the militants view as heretics.
“They were going to make a cellphone-activated bomb and would have carried out [an attack] if we hadn’t stopped them,” he said.
Islamic State supporters
The raids began shortly before noon of Friday with the arrest of two suspects in Cilacap district, Central Java, identified as Riswandi and Yudinov Syahputra. From there, Densus personnel arrested three other suspects in Tasikmalaya, West Java, identified as Zaenal and Asep Urip, and a woman identified only by the initials T.A.
On Saturday morning, Densus arrested a sixth suspect, Abu Karim a.k.a. Abu Jundi, in Sukoharjo district, Central Java. They also seized suspected bomb-making material, including detonators, several lengths of piping, nails and buckshot, and various volatile chemicals. Officers also found a book on jihad, a bomb-making manual and a map of the Greater Jakarta area during the Sukoharjo raid.
Police have identified Asep as a teacher at the Al Mubarok Islamic boarding school, or pesantren, in Tasikmalaya, while Zaenal was one of his students.
Police alleged the pair were meant to assemble bombs from the material found at Abu Karim’s house. T.A, whom police say is Zaenal’s wife, allegedly funded the plot with Rp 8 million ($575) from her earnings as a former migrant worker in Hong Kong.
In a series of separate raids on Saturday, Densus personnel arrested three people in Mojokerto and one in Gresik, in East Java, with suspected links to Jemaah Islamiyah, the Southeast Asian affiliate of Al Qaeda.
The suspects are alleged to have been involved in manufacturing firearms for terrorist activities. One of them was wanted from a similar raid on an underground gun workshop in Klaten, Central Java, in May 2014, a source said.
Police say there is no indication yet that the suspected Islamic State sympathizers and the JI operatives were connected.
Senior officials had earlier this week warned of a possibly elevated threat of terror attacks during the year-end period. Security has been beefed up at churches nationwide, while the president and the police chief have asked that public celebrations during both Christmas and New Year’s Eve be kept low-key.