Indonesian anti-terror police guard a government building in Jakarta in June. (Photo by Konradus Epa/ucanews.com)
Indonesian police say they have arrested a leader of the Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) extremist group, who has eluded capture since 2013.
Para Wijayanto was arrested by counter-terrorism police on June 29 at a hotel in the satellite city of Bekasi on the outskirts of Jakarta, national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said.
Wijayanto is suspected of making bombs for JI, which carried out a series of attacks including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people and the 2004 Australian embassy attack in Jakarta that left nine people dead.
The 54-year-old received military training at a jihadi camp in Moro in the southern Philippines in 2000, and was also involved in sectarian violence in Poso on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, Brigadier General Prasetyo said.
“He has a track record of involvement in terror attacks,” Prasetyo told reporters on July 1.
“He is an alumnus of military training (camps) in Moro in 2000” and was appointed a leader of JI, with expertise as a bomb maker and as a fighter and intelligence operative, he said.
Four other suspected extremists were also arrested on June 29 in west and central Java.
Wijayanto collaborated with Bali bombers Umar Patek, an Indonesian national who was arrested in Pakistan in 2011 and extradited, and Noordin Muhammad Top, who was killed during a police raid in central Java in 2009, Prasetyo said.
Stanislaus Riyanta, an intelligence analyst from the University of Indonesia, said Wijayanto is suspected of sending batches of Indonesians to train and fight in Syria.
“He is dangerous because he is an important man behind various terror actions of JI,” Riyanta told ucanews.com.
JI was banned by an Indonesian court in 2008, and has been designated a terrorist group by the United States, Australia and other countries. Indonesia’s counter-terrorism police have led sustained crackdowns against the group.
Al Chaidar, a terrorism expert from Malikussaleh University in Indonesia’s Aceh Province, said some members of the JI network have joined the so-called Islamic State.
He also said the JI network was still involved in extremist propaganda on campuses and in Islamic boarding houses, with the aim of recruiting a new generation of Islamic militants.