Plot to attack 'vital' target in Jakarta foiled

Indonesian police foiled a terror plot in Jakarta yesterday after arresting three suspects and seizing a homemade bomb from a lodging house in Bekasi, near the capital.

The trio - two men and a woman - had made a 3kg "rice-cooker" bomb, which contained explosives more powerful than military-grade TNT, the police said.

The Presidential Palace was said to be the target, according to initial reports in local media, but the police would say only that the suspects were planning to strike a "vital object".

"The information we can convey is that their target is a vital object," said national police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar.

The three were nabbed in a raid mounted by officers from the elite counter-terrorism unit - Detachment 88 - in Bekasi, a town about an hour's drive from Jakarta. The officers found the rice-cooker bomb at the lodging house in Bintara Jaya, a residential area in Bekasi, where the suspects had been staying for about a week.

Initial investigations indicated that the suspects are followers of the Jamaah Anshar Daulah Khilafah Nusantara, a local terrorist network said to have pledged its allegiance to ISIS.

Another police spokesman, Colonel Rikwanto, confirmed that a fourth suspect - a male - was arrested in Karanganyar regency in Central Java yesterday.

Police believe that he was the one responsible for assembling the bomb.

Initial investigations indicated that the suspects are followers of the Jamaah Anshar Daulah Khilafah Nusantara, a local terrorist network said to have pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), said General Boy. The group is believed to have ties to recent terror incidents in Indonesia, including the July attack on a police outpost in Solo city.

Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian militant who is in Syria with ISIS forces, is believed to have ordered the Solo attack.

Rice-cooker or pressure-cooker bombs are common improvised explosive devices used by terrorists, including during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, which killed three people and injured at least 260 others.

Similar bombs were used in the Mumbai train bombings in 2006, and attempted attacks in Stockholm and Times Square in New York, both in 2010.

•Additional reporting by Francis Chan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 11, 2016, with the headline 'Plot to attack 'vital' target in Jakarta foiled'. Print Edition | Subscribe