A group of suspected militants killed or arrested by counter-terrorism forces on Christmas Day belonged to an ISIS-linked terror cell that was planning to attack a police post in West Java on New Year's Eve, Indonesian police said yesterday.
Two of the suspected militants died during the raid and two were arrested. Police said the arrested men explained the plot during interrogation.
The operation came just days after three suspected militants said to be planning an attack on a police post near Jakarta on Christmas Eve were killed in a raid, highlighting the multiple security threats facing Indonesia.
In the latest case, the suspected militants surveyed several places in the mid-sized town of Purwakarta in West Java and decided to pick a lightly guarded police post, said police spokesman Rikwanto, who goes by one name, at a media briefing yesterday.
"Two of them would approach the targeted police post, hurt on-duty officers using a machete and knives, while the other two, on motorbikes, would monitor and be ready to rush to fetch their accomplices and flee the area after the attacks," the spokesman said.
Anti-terrorism force Detachment 88 (Densus 88) arrested Abu Arham, 29, and Ivan Rahmat Syarif, 28, late on Sunday morning near Jatiluhur Dam, about 70km east of Jakarta and close to Purwakarta. They told police they belonged to the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) cell.
JAD is led by jailed terrorist ideologue Aman Abdurrahman, who has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The two other militants, Abu Sovi alias Mas Brow and Abu Faiz, died while resisting arrest. One of them tried to attack the officers with a machete.
The four men had rented rooms in the nearby city of Bandung but, feeling uneasy as neighbours appeared to grow increasingly suspicious of them, subsequently moved to a ramshackle house at Jatiluhur Dam.
Brigadier-General Rikwanto said police found a number of mobile phone SIM cards, modems, nails of various sizes, handwritten and computer-typed letters containing instructions from the cell leader Abu Faiz and a weighing scale. No explosives were found in their rented rooms, Brig-Gen Rikwanto said.
Police have been stepping up raids ahead of Christmas and New Year's Eve. As many as 155,000 police and military personnel have been deployed during the holiday period to protect churches and other locations.
Last Wednesday, police killed three would-be militants in a raid outside Jakarta, foiling their plan to attack a police post in Serpong, South Tangerang, 25km from Central Jakarta. Police seized six packets, each containing about two bombs, from the house where the three alleged terrorists were shot dead and a fourth arrested.
The gang was linked to a terror cell in Solo, Central Java, whose plan to attack the presidential palace in Jakarta was foiled earlier this month.
Police last Wednesday also arrested three other suspected militants in Deli Serdang (North Sumatra province), Payakumbuh (West Sumatra province) and Batam (Riau Islands province).