Jakarta blast prompts election attack fears

Terror experts warn low-level explosion during presidential debate could be precursor to poll atrocity by terror group
Jakarta blast prompts election attack fears

Deradicalized terrorist Sofyan Tsauri says a terror group was likely behind a blast in Jakarta on Feb.17 and was probably targeting the general election in April. (Photo by Konradus Epa/ucanews.com)

A small blast outside a stadium where people had gathered to watch a presidential debate underscores the threat posed by the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) terror group to the upcoming Indonesian elections, a terrorism expert says.

The small explosion occurred on Feb. 17 outside a stadium in south Jakarta, injuring several people.

They were watching the second presidential debate between candidates Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto on large screens at the stadium.

According to Al Chaidar, a terrorism expert from Malikussaleh University in Aceh, the incident was a reminder of the potential threat posed by the JAD.

He claimed 137 of the group’s cells were still active and were likely targeting the general election on April 17.

The JAD has been linked with the so-called Islamic State group and was believed established in Batu, Malang, East Java, in November 2015.

Its leader, Aman Abdurahman, was sentenced to death in June last year for his involvement in several bomb attacks in Indonesia.

A month earlier, suspected members of the group bombed three churches in Surabaya, East Java, killing 28 people.

"The explosion this week shows the terrorists are still active and have the potential to mount attacks during the election," Al Chaidar told ucanews.com on Feb.19.

Police, however, denied it was a bomb blast and claimed it was a firecracker, but footage of the incident made it look more serious.

Al Chaidar said police were too quick to conclude that it was a firecracker. He said the JAD likely planted a device and the police explanation was an attempt to maintain calm.

Sofyan Tsauri, a former JAD member, also warned the government not to underestimate the group.

He told Indonesian news portal Tempo.co that the Feb. 17 blast was most likely orchestrated by JAD members looking to undermine democracy in Indonesia.

Sign up to receive UCAN Daily Full Bulletin
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
© Copyright 2019, UCANews.com All rights reserved
© Copyright 2019, Union of Catholic Asian News Limited. All rights reserved
Expect for any fair dealing permitted under the Hong Kong Copyright Ordinance.
No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means without prior permission.