Police reveal scope of foiled Jakarta terror plot
IS-linked militants 'had bombs more powerful' than those used in 2002 Bali attacks
Indonesian police take cover behind a vehicle as they pursue suspects after a series of blasts hit the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
A suspect arrested over a plot to bomb the Myanmar embassy and other targets in Jakarta next month had bombs more powerful than the ones used in the Bali bombings in 2002, Indonesian police have said.
Several suspects have been arrested in recent days for allegedly plotting to launch a wave of terror attacks across the capital Jakarta.
Besides the Myanmar embassy — targeted because of Buddhist persecution of minority Muslim Rohingyas — the alleged terrorists were also targeting parliament, police headquarters and several television stations, police said.
The plot was foiled when anti-terror police arrested Rio Priatna Wibawa at his home in Majalengka, West Java on Nov. 23 and two more suspects several days later.
All were members of Jamaah Anshar Daulah Khilafah Nusantara, a militant group with links to the so-called Islamic State group, police said.
Wibawa was caught in possession of bombs more powerful than the ones used in Bali in October 2002, that killed 202 people, police spokesperson Boy Rafli Amar said.
He also revealed the arrest of nine other IS-linked suspects during a Nov. 4 rally against Jakarta's Christian Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok.
The protesters had accused the governor of insulting the Quran during a campaign speech.
Amar said all those arrested were active members of Islamic State and had been facilitating the training of Indonesians in Syria and at home.
"They infiltrated the crowd and tried to grab the guns of police officers," Amar was quoted as saying by Kompas.com.
These arrests and other violent incidents over the last year underscored the growing threat in Indonesia posed by Islamic State, terrorism experts have said.
These incidents included an attack in Jakarta in January by militants linked to Islamic State which killed four people, an attack on a Catholic priest in Medan, and a bombing of a Protestant church on Nov.13 that killed an infant.
A recent report titled "Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis" by the Rajaratnam School of International Studies said the rise in the number of militants in Indonesia and in the region linking themselves with Islamic state represent the 'fresh face' of violent extremism in the region.
They have "contributed to raising the threat level in Southeast Asia, as evidenced by the attacks, and discovery of terror plots and cells in the region," the report said.
According to Al Chaidar, a terrorism expert from Malikussaleh University in Aceh, there are about 2 million IS supporters in Indonesia.
They have established good networks across the country, he said.
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