Police uncover plot to attack Indonesia presidential palace

Indonesian counter-terrorism police yesterday uncovered a plot to attack the Istana Negara presidential palace in Jakarta with "chemical bombs" after they arrested five suspects during a raid in Bandung, West Java.

The suspects include a married couple who were deported from Hong Kong recently after being caught for allegedly spreading extremist ideology.

"One of their targets to detonate a bomb at was Istana Negara," said West Java police spokesman Yusri Yunus yesterday.

The terror plot was uncovered by officers from police counter-terrorism unit Densus 88 when they raided a house in Antapani, a small village in Bandung, at about 6pm local time, he added.

Among the items found in the house were chemicals that the suspects had planned to use in home-made bombs, said Colonel Yusri.

"They belong to the JAD group, and one of them had learnt (to assemble bombs) from one of Bahrun Naim's blogs," he added. "And police officers in the field were also their targets."

JAD is short for Jemaah Ansharut Daulah, a local terrorist network which has been behind a series of recent attacks in Indonesia, including a siege on downtown Jakarta in January last year. It also has ties with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Bahrun Naim is a JAD member said to have joined the ISIS group in Syria.

This latest arrest comes as security is being beefed up by the police across Indonesia ahead of its 72nd Independence Day tomorrow.

Indonesian police officers are often the target of attacks by militants who see them as thaghut, or enemies of Islam. On May 23, three policemen were killed in a twin-suicide bombing in Kampung Melayu, East Jakarta. Another officer in Medan was stabbed to death by two assailants on June 25.

The Indonesian National Police have told officers on duty to be alert and to operate in pairs for safety reasons, said spokesman Setyo Wasisto.

This comes after the police had in recent weeks picked up chatter on the Telegram Web messenger about possible terrorists attacks targeted at the police tomorrow.

"We prepare a similar security formation each year, but because of the threats we discovered on social media, we will need to raise our vigilance," Inspector-General Setyo told The Straits Times yesterday. "What is clear is that terrorism is still the No. 1 threat, and that must be anticipated."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2017, with the headline 'Police uncover plot to attack Indonesia presidential palace'. Print Edition | Subscribe