published Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Indonesian police arrest 9 more terror suspects

JAKARTA, Indonesia — An elite anti-terror squad has arrested nine Islamic militants in Indonesia and seized a dozen homemade bombs from a group suspected of planning suicide attacks against security forces and the government, police said Sunday.

Two suspects were arrested Saturday in Central Java’s Solo town after authorities received information about their whereabouts from other militants in the group who had recently surrendered, said national police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar. The two were interrogated and led police to six other members of the group hours later in the same town. A ninth suspect was arrested late Saturday in West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.

Amar said two of those arrested, Badri Hartono and Rudi Kurnia Putra, both 45, worked to recruit young men and taught at least one member of the group how to make bombs.

“They were the central figures of the group who had planned several terror attacks,” Amar said. “They recruited, invited young men to be trained in a military-style jihadi camp and bought bomb-making materials.”

He said the group had planned to bomb the country’s Parliament building, shoot police and attack members of the anti-terrorism squad.

Police seized 12 homemade bombs and others that were partially completed along with three rifles, four swords and several jihadist books from the homes of three suspects, Amar said. Five bombs were safely defused late Saturday at the scene in Solo, the hometown of convicted radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.

Police are still investigating the possible link of the unnamed group to other terrorism networks, Amar said. Authorities believe it has now been largely broken up, but they continue to search for other members.

Since March, more than 30 militant suspects have been arrested and seven others killed in a series of raids in Indonesia. All were plotting domestic attacks, and some — aged between 18 and 30 — had attended a military-style training camp in Poso on Sulawesi island.

Another member of the unnamed group, alleged bomb maker Muhammad Toriq, surrendered two weeks ago in the capital, Jakarta, while carrying a gun and ammunition and wearing a suicide bomber belt that did not contain any explosives. A second militant, Yusuf Rizaldi, gave himself up to police in North Sumatra three days later. Both cooperated to help bring down the group’s other members in Saturday’s raid, Amar said.

Police have said Toriq was allegedly part of an elaborate plan to shoot police and bomb the Parliament building as a way to wage jihad to establish Islamic Sharia law in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.

He had been on the run since police flushed him out of his Jakarta house earlier this month after neighbors reported seeing smoke billowing from it. He escaped again a week later after a blast rocked a house in the capital’s outskirts. Police believe the bomb accidentally exploded while it was being prepared for a terrorist attack, killing one alleged militant inside the home.

When Toriq walked into a police station and surrendered after having a change of heart, he told authorities he had planned to go on a suicide bomb mission Sept. 10, targeting either police, Indonesia’s elite anti-terrorism squad or Buddhists as a way to protest against treatment of the minority Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Indonesia, a secular nation, has been battling terrorists since 2002, when militants linked to the Southeast Asian network Jemaah Islamiyah started attacking Western nightclubs, restaurants and embassies. More than 260 people have been killed in the attacks, many of them foreign tourists.

Recent terror attacks in Indonesia have been carried out by individuals or small groups and have targeted local “infidels” instead of Westerners, with less deadly results.

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