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Indonesia

Indonesian police arrest four terror suspects in Sulawesi

Terror groups thought to be taking advantage of coronavirus scare to launch attacks

Indonesian police arrest four terror suspects in Sulawesi

The head of the Police Public Information Bureau, Brig. Gen. Argo Yuwono, announces the arrest of four terror suspects during a livestreamed press conference on April 14. (Photo courtesy of Divisi Humas Polri)

Indonesia’s counter-terrorism police have arrested four suspects thought to have been planning an attack in Southeast Sulawesi.

They were arrested in Muna, a small island in Southeast Sulawesi, on April 13 by the anti-terrorism squad Densus 88, said Brig. Gen. Argo Yuwono, head of the Police Public Information Bureau.

“They are part of the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) network in Southeast Sulawesi," Yuwono said in a statement broadcast live on Facebook on April 14. "The four have been taken for further questioning."

He added that police confiscated long-range and short-barreled firearms and several bullets from their homes but did not say what their target might have been.

Their arrest followed those of three other suspected JAD members and the seizure of firearms in Java on April 10.

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Stanislaus Riyanta, an intelligence analyst from the University of Indonesia, said the JAD network has expanded to many parts of the country and continues to recruit people, particularly through social media.

“Its activities are concentrated in Java and Sumatra but cells are already present on other islands,” he told UCA News.

He said attacks in Indonesia were mostly orchestrated by JAD, which is influenced by the Islamic State.

“It looks like they were looking to seize the opportunity to carry out an atrocity while the country is directing all its resources in handling the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Riyanta said the terrorism threat in Indonesia is high, influenced by transnational groups Islamic State, supported by the JAD network, and al-Qaeda, which is manifested through Al Jamah Al Islamiyyah or Jamaah Islamiyah. 

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