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Terror suspect had eyed targets in Jakarta

Publication Date : 11-09-2012


Anti-terrorism police HQ, Buddhist community building among them


Terrorist suspect Muhammad Toriq, who turned himself in on Sunday night, had been preparing to blow himself up the next day and had considered targets in Jakarta, including a Buddhist community building.

Two men linked to the Depok blast at the weekend were also nabbed yesterday - one in central Jakarta and the other at a house in Bogor, a city south of the capital, where more ammunition and bomb-making equipment were found.

These arrests come amid a crackdown on fresh terrorism plots, especially on the outskirts of Jakarta and in Solo, in central Java involving young militants.

The rise of these young terrorists shows that while Jakarta has managed to curb mainstream terrorist groups like Jemaah Islamiah (JI), the fight against extremist ideology is far from over.

It also shows the ability of far-flung Muslim issues to catch the imagination of young terrorists. Toriq and his friends were driven by the plight of the Rohingya, Muslims from Myanmar, many of whom have fled to Bangladesh due to persecution.

"For these young terrorists to act, they only need an emotional driving force from situations in which they perceive Muslims are being badly treated," said terrorism analyst Al Chaidar, of the University of Indonesia.

Toriq, 32, fled his west Jakarta home last Wednesday after neighbours alerted police upon seeing a plume of smoke there.

On Sunday, he confessed to having bomb-making equipment that included detonators. He was also at the scene of a blast at a house in Depok city last Saturday which injured five, but managed to escape before police arrived.

Police last week arrested 20-year-old Firman following shootings of policemen on duty.

National police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told reporters that Toriq had considered a suicide bombing yesterday. His targets had included the anti-terrorism police headquarters and a Buddhist community building.

Early last month, jailed cleric and JI spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir issued a letter to Myanmar President Thein Sein threatening war if the oppression of Rohingya Muslims continued.

In the past few weeks, anti-terror unit Detachment 88 raided a Solo cell responsible for at least three shootings against police there last month.

National police chief Timur Pradopo has urged calm and says Jakarta is not in danger of terrorist attacks.

Earlier, the head of Indonesia's National Counter-terrorism Agency, Ansyaad Mbai, had told The Straits Times there were no specific threats to the country for today, the anniversary of the Sept11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Terrorists have switched to local targets, specifically police.

The Solo cell, he said, is part of a wider network that has raised as much as 8 billion rupiah from membership fees, robberies and online hacking or scams.

And while JI has been crippled, the ideology of Abu Bakar Bashir is still strong, Ansyaad said.

Militants are rekindling ties based on blood relationships and old members, he added.

Farhan, a member of the Solo cell killed during an ambush last month, bought weapons via contacts of his stepfather, Abu Omar, a militant who smuggled weapons from the southern Philippines. Farhan's biological father was a member of a pre-JI militant wing.

"Before he was about to carry out the police attack," said Ansyaad, "he SMS-ed Abu Omar, who is in prison, to get approval."


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