Indonesian authorities have thwarted a terror plot, nabbing two militants who had military-grade explosives and skills to assemble bombs.
The police said yesterday that Saiful Bahri and Bahrain Agam were part of a local terror cell plotting to attack the Parliament building, police headquarters and television stations in Jakarta. The group, based in Majalengka, West Java, was also found to be in possession of TNT and RDX - a key element used in making powerful explosives such as C4, typically used by the military.
"If we compare these to the Bali bombings... the Majalengka cell had explosives that would be more than twice as powerful," said the police spokesman, Colonel Rikwanto.
He was referring to the 2002 bombings in Bali by the old Jemaah Islamiah terrorist network, which killed more than 200 people.
Saiful, who uses the alias Abu Syifa, was nabbed yesterday in Serang, a town in Banten province near Jakarta, while Bahrain was arrested in Aceh province on Saturday.
Col Rikwanto said the explosives were seized in Majalengka last Wednesday, during the arrest of Rio Priatna Wibawa, another member of the terror cell. The cell is said to be linked to Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
He said Saiful, Bahrain and Rio were all acting under the instructions of Bahrun and had planned to mount attacks in Jakarta.
Rio had confessed to planning to make bombs to attack foreign embassies, religious buildings and government complexes in the capital.
According to the police, Bahrain had raised seven million rupiah (S$742) to set up a bomb-making laboratory in Rio's home in Majalengka, where the TNT and RDX were seized.
Saiful, who is trained in mixing explosive chemicals for bombs, also helped set up the same lab.
"We nabbed them just before they finished making the bombs," Col Rikwanto told reporters.
The latest arrests come after at least three other militants were jailed between four and 10 years over the last one month for their involvement in the Jan 14 terror attack in Jakarta. ISIS had claimed responsibility for the brazen hit on the capital city, which led to the deaths of eight people, including the four perpetrators.
The incident was also the first terror attack on Indonesian soil since the 2009 twin bombings at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels. Seven people died and 50 were injured, including a number of foreigners, in those attacks.
The police, in a separate operation on Saturday, also rounded up nine other militants loyal to ISIS.
Some of these suspects helped other Indonesians travel to Syria to join ISIS, while two of them participated in the Nov 4 protest targeted at Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, over blasphemy allegations.