Indonesia arrests third woman linked to foiled Jakarta suicide bombing plot

Jakarta police spokesman Awi Setiyono showing a photo of the "rice cooker bomb", which was to be used to bomb the Presidential Palace, on Dec 11, 2016.
Jakarta police spokesman Awi Setiyono showing a photo of the "rice cooker bomb", which was to be used to bomb the Presidential Palace, on Dec 11, 2016.ST PHOTO: FRANCIS CHAN

JAKARTA - A third Indonesian woman linked to an ISIS-inspired plot to bomb the Presidential Palace in Jakarta last weekend has been arrested.

Indonesian police said on Thursday (Dec 15) that the woman was nabbed at 4.30am local time during a raid by the Detachment 88 (Densus 88) counter-terrorism unit in Tasikmalaya, West Java.

The 37-year-old housewife, identified as Tutin Sugiarti, is believed to have played a part in recruiting Dian Yuli Novi, a 27-year-old woman who was arrested in an earlier operation by Densus 88 in Bekasi, West Java, with a home-made "rice-cooker" bomb.

Tutin was arrested with her husband in a rented room in Tasikmalaya, but it is not clear if her husband is involved in the terror plot, said police spokesman Martinus Sitompo.

"We are still investigating their links," he told The Straits Times.

Tutin is the third woman after Dian and Arida Putri Maharani, 25, that Densus 88 has rounded up in connection with a new terrorist cell in Solo that was set up by Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian militant who is in the Middle East fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The Straits Times understands that only Dian, who once worked in Singapore as a maid, and Arida were both prepared to mount suicide bombings in the capital.

Dian was arrested on Dec 10 in a rented room in Bekasi where police also found a 3kg "rice cooker" bomb, which she had intended to use for a suicide attack at Istana Merdeka during the change of guard ceremony on the following morning.

Her arrest came minutes after two men who delivered the bomb were ambushed by Densus 88 in East Jakarta. Another man who made the bomb was later caught in Karanganyar, Central Java.

Arida was arrested on Dec 11 in Sunda, a town in Solo. She is believed to be the wife of one of the two men who delivered the bomb to Dian and was also being prepared as a suicide bomber.

National police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said Densus 88 has so far arrested 10 suspected members of the new terrorist cell in Solo.

Bahrun has been setting up smaller militant cells in Indonesia, tasked with recruiting militants, including women, to mount attacks, according to the police.

Inspector General Boy said Bahrun has also transferred money to various members of the cell, allowing them to acquire military-grade explosive such as triacetone triperoxide (TATP).

TATP is found in fertiliser but can be easily turned into high explosives when mixed with other chemicals. Traces of it were found in bombs used in the July 2005 London bombings as well as the attacks in Paris last year.

The Solo cell is the second one that Densus 88 has uncovered in as many weeks. The cell had plans to hit targets in Jakarta this month.