Jakarta bomb plot: Second woman held

A boarding house in Bekasi, West Java, that was raided by Densus 88 on Saturday (Dec 10). A second woman, who was preparing to be a suicide bomber, has been arrested in Solo, Central Java.
A boarding house in Bekasi, West Java, that was raided by Densus 88 on Saturday (Dec 10). A second woman, who was preparing to be a suicide bomber, has been arrested in Solo, Central Java.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Arrest supports police's theory that an Indonesian ISIS fighter has been setting up militant cells

A second Indonesian woman who was preparing to be a suicide bomber in an ISIS-inspired attack has been arrested in Solo, Central Java.

Indonesian police said she was picked up in Sunda during follow-up operations, a day after the Detachment 88 (Densus 88) counter-terrorism unit foiled an attempted suicide bombing by another woman, who is 27 years old.

Both are said to be part of a new terrorist cell based in Solo that was set up by Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian militant who is in the Middle East fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

"They operated in several cities... in which Bekasi was just a transit area before they moved to their main target, Jakarta," said police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar yesterday.

Bekasi is a city in West Java, where the first woman was nabbed with a 3kg "rice cooker" bomb she had intended to use during a strike at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Sunday morning.

 
 

She was arrested last Saturday, just minutes after two men who delivered the bomb were ambushed by Densus 88 in East Jakarta. A fourth man who made the rice cooker bomb was later caught in Karanganyar, Central Java.

SUSPECT LIST

As of today, seven people have been named suspects, including (another) alleged bomb-maker, who was arrested in Ngawi, East Java.

INSPECTOR-GENERAL BOY RAFLI AMAR, a spokesman for the Indonesian police, on the arrests made so far.

The second woman arrested is believed to be the wife of one of the two men who delivered the bomb to the first woman, but she too was being prepared as a suicide bomber.

"As of today, seven people have been named as suspects, including (another) alleged bombmaker, who was arrested in Ngawi, East Java," said Inspector-General Boy.

The arrest of the second woman supports the police's earlier theory that Bahrun has been setting up smaller militant cells in Indonesia, tasked with recruiting militants, including women, to mount attacks.

The police have also seized another rice cooker and more than 1kg of triacetone triperoxide (TATP) - the same substance used to make the rice cooker bomb seized in Bekasi.

TATP is found in fertiliser but can be easily turned into high explosives when mixed with other chemicals. Traces of it were found in bombs used in the July 2005 London bombings as well as the attacks in Paris last year.

The Solo cell is the second one that Densus 88 has uncovered in as many weeks. The cell had plans to hit targets in Jakarta this month.

National police chief Tito Karnavian said the suspects were planning to attack during Sunday's changing of guard ceremony at the palace. He said: "For the mission, Bahrun provided funds that he sent via banks."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2016, with the headline 'Jakarta bomb plot: Second woman held'. Print Edition | Subscribe