Jail for Indonesian woman who planned suicide strike

Dian Yulia Novi with her husband Nur Solihin at East Jakarta District Court in Jakarta last week. She was arrested last December at her rented house near Jakarta with a 3kg high-grade rice-cooker bomb, a day before the planned strike on the president
Dian Yulia Novi with her husband Nur Solihin at East Jakarta District Court in Jakarta last week. She was arrested last December at her rented house near Jakarta with a 3kg high-grade rice-cooker bomb, a day before the planned strike on the presidential palace. Nur is on trial for the same plot.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

28-year-old, who was once a maid in S'pore, plotted to hit presidential palace in Jakarta

A 28-year-old Indonesian woman who plotted to blow herself up outside the presidential palace in Jakarta has been sentenced to jail for 7-1/2 years, the first time a woman was convicted over a planned suicide bomb attack in the country.

Dian Yulia Novi, who worked in Singapore and Taiwan as a maid several years ago, was arrested last December at her rented house near Jakarta with a 3kg high-grade rice-cooker bomb, a day before her militant group planned to strike the office complex of President Joko Widodo.

The woman, from Cirebon in West Java province, was nabbed by anti-terror police with six others. The attackers were part of a terrorist cell based in Solo that was set up by Bachrun Naim, an Indonesian militant who is in the Middle East fighting alongside terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Dian worked as a domestic worker in Singapore between 2008 and 2009.

Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said in January that seven foreign domestic workers who were radicalised through the Internet were repatriated in the past two years.

Though they did not have plans to carry out acts of violence in Singapore at the time they were investigated, their interactions with others showed that they had bought into radical ideologies, he said.

Dian is among several dozen Indonesian maids working in East Asia who have raised regional security concern as they became entangled with ISIS activities, from providing money for tickets to Syria to marrying fighters online, according to the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict in a study released last month.

Dian is among several dozen Indonesian maids working in East Asia who have raised regional security concern as they became entangled with ISIS activities, from providing money for tickets to Syria to marrying fighters online, according to the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict in a study released last month.

Another Indonesian woman, Ika Puspitasari, who had worked as a maid in Hong Kong, is being tried in a separate trial, with a verdict expected soon. Ika was planning to mount a suicide bombing in Bali on New Year's Eve last year.

Indonesian police have said that the involvement of these women marks a shift in strategy by Indonesian militants, who are now recruiting women to mount attacks, instead of men.

The verdict on Dian, which she did not wish to appeal, was passed last Friday, earlier than expected because she is due to give birth early next month. Her husband Nur Solihin is on trial for the same plot and would see his verdict passed around next month.

"She learnt Islam carelessly; did not get the full meaning of the Islamic teachings," Dian's lawyer, Mr Kamsi, who uses a one-word name, told The Straits Times yesterday.

"How can you say 'jihad' means to kill innocent people? In the early parts of the hearing, Dian still thought what she planned to do was right, but later, towards the verdict day, she realised it was wrong," he added.

In an interview with local TVOne news channel shortly after her arrest last year, Dian said she was exposed to radical Islam through Facebook, while working as a maid.

"On Facebook, I opened profiles of jihadists, who had inspired me," she told TVOne while in police custody. "I did not join any group, just looked through, but became more curious," she said, adding that she collected articles and audio clips of religious teachings on the Internet.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2017, with the headline 'Jail for Indonesian woman who planned suicide strike'. Print Edition | Subscribe