Indonesian police escort arrested terror suspects to a news conference in Jakarta on May 17. Police say they have arrested dozens of terror suspects, including two who planned to detonate bombs at political protests when election results are due to be announced on May 22. (Photo by Bay Ismoyo/AFP)
Anti-terrorist police in Indonesia say they have arrested two people and foiled a major bomb plot targeting a large rally in Jakarta on May 22.
They were among 31 people believed to have links with the so-called Islamic State group, arrested following a series of raids across Java this month carried out by the National Police’s anti-terror squad, Densus 88.
The May 22 rally was due to be staged by supporters of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, to challenge the presidential election result which will be officially announced by the General Elections Commission that day.
The commission is expected to announce that Subianto’s rival and incumbent president, Joko Widodo, has won the election.
Police say the two suspects, who were only identified by the letters AR and DY, belong to the Islamic State-linked Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) group, which has been blamed for several attacks including church bombings.
In a 59-second video played by National Police during a press conference at the weekend, one of the alleged suspects is seen confessing to making bombs to be detonated by remote control at the May 22 rally. The suspect said the rally was being targeted as an attack on democracy.
“They aimed to attack innocent people as well as police personnel on duty outside the election commission offices,” National Police spokesman, Brigadier General Dedi Prasetyo, told reporters.
They wanted to show people “that their group still exists and is capable of launching terror attacks,” he said.
They also wanted to use the Muslim holy month of Ramadan for greater impact, he said.
The National Police have urged people not to take to the streets that day due to possible threats. Thousands of police and soldiers are expected to be deployed to protect the election commission building and other sensitive locations in the Indonesian capital.
“We are prepared for anything,” according to Prasetyo.
Stanislaus Riyanta, a terrorism analyst at the University of Indonesia, warned of possible lone wolf threats on May 22.
“Those arrested are linked to a certain group. But lone wolf terrorists remain a possibility. They are potentially more dangerous as they are difficult to detect,” he said.
The potential threats have prompted countries such as the United States and Malaysia to issue security alerts. Both countries have called on their nationals to avoid areas where demonstrations are expected to take place in Jakarta.