Indonesian Anti-Terror Police have arrested nine alleged terrorists and foiled a plot to kill government officials, law enforcement officers and others, Indonesia’s police chief said Monday.
Information provided from the U.S., Australia and Singapore since last September helped Indonesian police discover the planned attacks.
Indonesian Police Chief Badrodin Haiti on Monday told the press that, based on their interrogations, the attacks were planned for the year-end holiday season.
He added that the network was led by Abdul Karim, aka Abu Jundi. Karim is a former member of Jamaah Islamiah, an al-Qaida-linked Southeast Asian group blamed for the deadly 2002 nightclub bombings on the resort island of Bali and, more recently, affiliated with the Islamic State.
The suspects allegedly were preparing a suicide bomb, but Haiti didn't provide details.
"In order to carry out this attack,” the chief said, “these individuals created new small cells, so they can't be linked to the big organization.”
FILE - Members of a police bomb squad search for suspicious materials in December 2014, prior to the Christmas Eve Mass in Jakarta, Indonesia. Nine recent arrests foiled a year-end terror plot, Indonesia’s police chief said Monday.
Karim, the alleged terrorist who was caught in Sukoharjo Central Java last Friday, also was widely known as a person who recruited and sent Indonesians to join IS in Syria.
Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, Indonesia Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law & Security, said that security has been heightened at airports, the presidential palace, foreign embassies and shopping malls. In addition, the government will deploy more than 150,000 personnel to safeguard public places and churches across the country.
"There are more than 150,000 personnel that will be deployed in strategic places,” he said. “We also increased our intelligent and monitoring operations. We will involve all elements in the society so they're also ready to inform us if there is unusual activities in their neighborhood.”
Wawan Purwanto, a member of the Indonesian National Counter-Terrorism Agency BNPT, told VOA separately that his agency has closely monitored Indonesians who have returned from war in Syria.
He said there have been some 800 Indonesians who have gone to Syria and Iraq to join IS, and 300 of those have returned home, including 30 children. BNPT has arrested eight of the returnees.
"Those who went there because they're following their father or husband, we can't do anything to them,” Purwanto said. “We just confirmed about their whereabouts in Syria. But those who really joined ISIS and fought for them in Syria, we arrested them. We have revoked their passports and interrogated them, because they're involved as combatants. They must have planned something for Indonesia. We're really concerned about it.”
Indonesia has suffered a series of deadly attacks by the Jamaah Islamiah network in the past, but the attacks have been smaller and have mainly targeted government authorities, such as police and anti-terrorism forces.