Indonesia bolsters security after threat

Indonesian military and police officers stand guard at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Indonesia, on Nov 28, 2015.
Indonesian military and police officers stand guard at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Indonesia, on Nov 28, 2015.PHOTO: EPA

Domestic terror group says it will attack targets across country over weekend

Indonesian security forces are on high alert in Bogor, West Java, where President Joko Widodo attended an event yesterday.

This was after the East Indonesian Mujahidin (MIT) extremist group had threatened to attack various targets across the country over the weekend.

Security was beefed up at the presidential palace in Bogor, as well as shopping malls, churches and bus terminals, among other places deemed vulnerable in the city, located just two hours' drive south of the capital Jakarta.

"We have boosted the security level (because) the threat is real," Bogor police chief Andi Hendrinda told Xinhua news yesterday.

He was referring to threats issued last week, allegedly by Santoso, leader of the MIT and Indonesia's most wanted terrorist.

TAKING IT SERIOUSLY

We have boosted the security level (because) the threat is real.

MR ANDI HENDRINDA, Bogor police chief

Santoso and his band of militants are believed to be operating out of Poso in Central Sulawesi.

Sources said previously that the police and other counter-terrorism agencies in Indonesia have in recent weeks also detected chatter of possible strikes by local militants linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) - even before the Paris attacks.

Bogor Palace is one of six presidential palaces in Indonesia. It was left mostly unused until February this year, when Mr Joko decided to move his office there from Merdeka Palace in Jakarta.

It was not clear if Mr Joko was at Bogor Palace yesterday, but he was at the Bogor Agriculture Institute campus in Baranangsiang, where he opened the National Fruit and Flower Festival earlier in the morning with First Lady Iriana.

Terror alert levels in Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population, have been raised significantly since the incident in Paris which killed more 130 people.

Official estimates have put the number of Indonesians who have travelled to the Middle East to join ISIS at about 700.

Hundreds are said to have returned home, most of whom were deported from Turkey, with possibly a number of them slipping back without revealing their associations with ISIS.

The National Intelligence Agency is tracking at least 100 of these men with known links to the terror group, while Detachment 88, Indonesia's crack counter-terrorism outfit, has been running surveillance operations on about 60 to 70 of these returnees.

Despite such numbers, some security analysts have said the possibility of a Paris-style attack in Indonesia remains remote.

But Jakarta police chief Tito Karnavian disagrees.

He warned on Thursday that Indonesia could become a host for ISIS in South-east Asia and called for the region's Islamic leaders to cooperate against radicalism.

Investigations by the national police have also uncovered funding and other forms of support finding their way from ISIS to domestic extremist groups, such as the MIT.

Yesterday, Tempo news portal reported that Indonesia's Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) detected seven billion rupiah (S$715,000) worth of cash flowing into Indonesia to fund terrorism activities over the last three years.

The discovery was the result of cooperation between the PPATK and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.

PPATK deputy chief Agus Santoso said the funds were used to finance military training, pay for arms and to compensate widows of the terrorists who died fighting for the cause.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 29, 2015, with the headline 'Indonesia bolsters security after threat'. Print Edition | Subscribe