Indonesia arrests 22 militants following attack on minister
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — At least 22 suspected militants plotting bombings and other attacks have been arrested in a counterterrorism crackdown following last week’s assault by a knife-wielding militant couple who wounded Indonesia’s top security minister, police said Monday.
National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo told a news conference that the police’s elite anti-terror squad, known as Densus 88, seized 10 homemade pipe bombs believed to be intended for suicide attacks, chemicals for use in explosives, airsoft guns, knives, documents on planned attacks, jihadist books, laptops and cellphones in separate raids.
Police were hunting other suspected militants, who mostly are participants in a social media chat group and are members of a local affiliate of the Islamic State group known as the Jama’ah Anshorut Daulah, or JAD.
“Members of this group are free to conduct ‘amaliah’ independently, depending on the ability of those who want to carry out the attacks,” Prasetyo said, referring to an Arabic term for violent jihadist action against those perceived as enemies of Islam.
Chief Security Minister Wiranto, a local police chief and a third man were wounded in the broad daylight attack on Thursday by the couple in the western province of Banten. Wiranto, who goes by one name, is recovering in an army hospital in Jakarta and police were interrogating the couple, who were believed to be members of a JAD bloc in Banten.
Wiranto, a 72-year-old former armed forces chief, sustained two stab wounds in the stomach but was in stable condition. The attack came just over a week before the Oct. 20 inauguration of President Joko Widodo for his second five-year term.
Widodo has called the attackers terrorists and urged people to combat radicalism. He ordered government forces to hunt down the militant networks responsible for the attack on Wiranto.
Among the suspects arrested in the series of police raids following last week’s attack were a man and his 14-year-old son on the Indonesian resort island of Bali who plotted to make a bomb for an attack against the local police. They were arrested just hours after the attack against Wiranto.
The other suspects targeting state forces were captured by anti-terrorism commandos on the main island of Java, where the bustling capital, Jakarta, lies; in Banten; and in the provinces of Lampung, West Java and Jambi, as well as in Poso town, a hotbed of militants on Sulawesi island, Prasetyo said.
A suspect arrested in North Sulawesi province was affiliated with an Islamic State group-aligned militant bloc called the East Indonesian Mujahidin group in Poso town. Identified by police only by his nom de guerre Jack Sparrow, he has pledged to carry out a bomb attack in the restive Indonesian province of Papua.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has carried out a sustained crackdown on Islamic militants since bombings on Bali in 2002 killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.
The Jemaah Islamiyah military network, which was blamed for the Bali attacks, was neutralized following the arrests of hundreds of its militants and leaders. But new threats have emerged in recent times from Islamic State group-inspired radicals who have targeted security forces and local “infidels” instead of Westerners.