Indonesia nabs 8 over terror plot
INDONESIAN police have foiled a major terror plot with the arrest of several men allegedly linked to a suicide bombing planned for Jakarta during New Year celebrations.
Indonesia's anti-terror squad, Densus 88, acted after receiving information from the Australian Federal Police and the United States' FBI, Australia's International Business Times reported.
During raids in several cities across Java island from Friday to yesterday, police arrested eight members of the alleged extremist network and seized chemicals, laboratory equipment and a flag inspired by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group.
Among those arrested on Friday were Asep Urip, a 31-year-old teacher at an Islamic boarding school in Tasikmalaya in West Java province, and his 35-year-old pupil Zaenal, who police allege was being "groomed" to carry out an imminent attack.
"From early information, it's known that Zaenal was a candidate for a suicide bombing in Jakarta to be conducted on New Year's 2016," Agence France-Presse quoted police documents as saying.
The duo were arrested when they were on the way to give lectures in a nearby school.
A subsequent raid on Urip's house uncovered a black flag inscribed with text "similar to an ISIS flag".
Two other men, who were connected both to Urip's religious school and to expert bomb makers and radicals, were earlier arrested on the same day in Banjar, West Java and Cilacap in Central Java province, the Tempo news portal reported.
One of them named Iwan had travelled to West Java this month with the intention of building a bomb, according to police.
A fifth man, Abu Jundi, was arrested on Saturday in Sukoharjo in Central Java, leading to a raid on his home where a wide array of suspect materials was seized, including laboratory equipment, chemical textbooks, fertiliser, buckshot and spikes.
From Saturday night to early yesterday, another three suspects - Indraji Idham Wijata, Choirul Anam Amin and an unidentified man - were arrested in Mojokerto city in East Java, reported Tempo.
These arrests were carried out because of indications that these men were involved in a terrorist network, said National police chief Badrodin Haiti.
"Some are ISIS members and others are sympathisers," the Jakarta Globe quoted General Badrodin as saying.
The police chief added that the counter-terrorism operation was still ongoing and advised the public to be vigilant and report anything suspicious.
Indonesia will deploy more than 150,000 security personnel to safeguard churches and public places around the country during Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations, armed forces chief Gatot Nurmantyo has said on Friday.
The raids came just a month after Indonesia increased security at its airports after a threat was directed at the airport serving Jakarta.
Indonesia suffered several major bomb attacks by radicals between 2000 and 2009, including the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people.
But a crackdown has weakened the most dangerous extremist networks.
However the emergence of ISIS has sparked alarm that Indonesians returning from battlefields in the Middle East could revive the networks. AGENCIES