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Raids in Indonesia dent 'ring' of terror groups

Publication Date : 03-01-2014


Terrorists were planning to blow themselves up in two Buddhist temples as part of several attacks planned during Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, police said, days after a major raid that saw six terrorist suspects shot dead on the capital's outskirts.

Continuing the latest blitz on Indonesian terrorist groups, police caught suspect Sadullah Rojak in Bogor on Wednesday and seized 25kg of bomb-making chemicals as well as an airsoft gun - a type of replica gun that fires plastic pellets - from his house.

Police had shot dead six terrorist suspects in a raid in Ciputat, in South Tangerang on Tuesday. A day earlier, they had nabbed a terrorist suspect in Banyumas, Central Java, who pointed them to the Ciputat location.

"From evidence in documents we found, there were at least two Buddhist temples that they have marked as targets for suicide bombings," national police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told reporters.

Analyst Noor Huda Ismail said the latest raids have dented a "consortium" of three local terror groups - the Abu Roban group, whose mission is to carry out robberies to fund terror activities; the Abu Omar group, whose expertise is in weapons smuggling; and the Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT), which provides paramilitary training.

"These raids throw up a trend we've seen developing in the Indonesian terrorism scene in the past several years - the cells are cooperating whenever their interests merge. Their loyalty to groups are no longer permanent but as long as their present objectives are the same, they will agree to fund or supply arms to each other," said Noor Huda, director of the Institute for International Peace Building in Jakarta.

The raids also showed that terrorism in Indonesia has continued to remain resilient, despite crackdowns. The groups are increasingly using social media to connect and recruit, say analysts.

Disturbingly, evidence from the raids suggested the suspects are all linked to Santoso, the leader of the MIT. He is Indonesia's most wanted terrorist, who remains elusive despite crackdowns on his base of operations in Poso, Central Sulawesi.

The cell of Abu Roban was also unearthed during the recent raids. The leader of a cell in Ciledug, Tangerang, was killed in a raid last May. He also referred to his group as the Mujahidin Indonesia Barat, and urged his followers to conduct "fai", an Arabic term endorsing robberies in the name of funding jihad.

Police chief Sutarman said: "Santoso used to fight with Abu Roban and was tasked to plan terrorist activities whether in east or west Indonesia. We believe Santoso is the right-hand man or one of Abu Roban's trusted aides."

He said the police and army are going after Santoso, who is believed to be still camping out in Poso. Other terrorist hideouts are Bima in West Nusa Tenggara, throughout Java island and Aceh in northern Sumatra, where a terrorist training camp was raided in 2010.

Since 2002, some 90 terrorists out of 900 caught have been shot dead.

Critics slammed the latest killing of six alleged terrorists, saying police should have brought them in alive. But police said they fired in self-defence.

National Counter-Terrorism Agency Chief Ansyaad Mbai justified the killings as having pre-empted major attacks.


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