Indonesia nabs three suspects plotting ISIS-inspired attacks

Indonesian anti-terror policemen removing material from a terror suspect's house in Surabaya, where they seized two homemade bombs and weapons during a raid on Wednesday.
Indonesian anti-terror policemen removing material from a terror suspect's house in Surabaya, where they seized two homemade bombs and weapons during a raid on Wednesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

JAKARTA • Indonesian police said yesterday that they have arrested three extremists who were planning to launch suicide bombings, inspired by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group, in the country's second-biggest city of Surabaya.

The police's elite anti-terror squad Detachment 88 detained the men in Surabaya on Wednesday and seized bombs and firearms, said national police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar.

He said the group planned to attack public places and government offices in the city in the coming weeks, without giving further details.

"They were influenced by IS on social media," Mr Amar said, referring to the ISIS terrorist group, which has declared a "caliphate" in large areas of territory it has seized in Iraq and Syria. "They were inspired by IS leaders' speeches."

Police said one of the detained men had links to Abu Jandal, an influential Indonesian militant fighting for ISIS in Syria, but did not give further details.

Analysts say Jandal and other Indonesians in Syria have been competing to impress ISIS leaders by encouraging their followers back home to launch attacks, and have on occasion provided funds and guidance.

A second suspect had been jailed for drug offences in the same prison as several convicted militants. Jails are considered hotbeds of radicalism in Indonesia. Police did not give details on the third man.

In the raid on the Surabaya house by Detachment 88, or Densus 88, police discovered two homemade bombs and weapons in the single-storey house.

"We found bombs, materials for making bombs, two rifles, a pistol, a cellphone we believe would have been used as a detonator, bullets and bayonets," Simokerto district police spokesman Bagus Dwi Rusiawan told the Detik news website.

The evidence was carted away in boxes by the police.

Mr Amar said the three suspects were not involved in a suicide bombing and gun attack in Jakarta in January that left four civilians and four attackers dead and was claimed by ISIS.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, has suffered several extremist attacks in the past 15 years, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

A crackdown had weakened the most dangerous networks, but the emergence of ISIS has proved a potent new rallying cry for radicals.

Hundreds of Indonesians have travelled to the Middle East to join the ISIS militants, stoking fears that extremist groups are being revived and more terror attacks could be on the horizon.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2016, with the headline 'Indonesia nabs three suspects plotting ISIS-inspired attacks'. Print Edition | Subscribe