Thursday 22 March 2018

Islamic State funded Jakarta attack, say Indonesian police

Activists during a rally condemning Thursday's Islamic State attack in Jakarta (AP)
Activists during a rally condemning Thursday's Islamic State attack in Jakarta (AP)

An attack by suicide bombers in the heart of Indonesia's capital was funded by the Islamic State group, police said, as they seized an IS flag from the home of one of the attackers and carried out raids across the country.

National police chief General Badrodin Haiti said Thursday's attack was funded by IS through Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian who spent a year in jail for illegal possession of weapons in 2011, and is now in Syria fighting for the group.

Supporters of IS also circulated a claim of responsibility for the attack on Twitter. The radical group controls territory in Syria and Iraq, and its ambition to create an Islamic caliphate has attracted 30,000 foreign fighters from around the world, including a few hundred Indonesians and Malaysians.

The IS link, if proved, poses a challenge to Indonesian security forces. Until now, the group was known only to have sympathisers with no active cells capable of planning and carrying out a plot such as that in which five men attacked a Starbucks cafe and a traffic police booth in Jakarta with handmade bombs, guns and suicide belts.

They killed two people, a Canadian and an Indonesian, and injured 20 in the first major attack in Indonesia since 2009. The militants were killed, either by their suicide vests or by police.

The attack "was funded by Isis in Syria through Bahrun Naim", Gen Haiti told reporters after Friday prayers.

He also identified one of the five attackers as Sunakim, who in 2010 was sentenced to seven years in jail for his involvement in military-style training in Aceh, but was released early.

Police conducted raids across Indonesia but was it unclear whether those arrested were suspected of links to the bombing or if officers were rounding up militants as part of a broader crackdown.

They also outlined a partial reconstruction of events based on security camera video, part of which showed a Starbucks customer escaping from the grip of a bomber before he detonated his suicide bomb. Police did not identify the customer but said he or she suffered minor injuries.

National police spokesman Major General Anton Charliyan said an IS flag was found in the home of one of the attackers and raids were conducted in Java, Kalimantan and Sulawesi, with four arrests made.

Maj Gen Charliyan said three men arrested at dawn in their homes in Depok on the outskirts of Jakarta are no longer suspected of being linked to the attack.

Gen Haiti said a suspected militant was killed in a gun battle in central Sulawesi, the hiding place of Indonesia's most wanted Islamic radical, Abu Wardah Santoso, who leads the East Indonesia Mujahidin network that has pledged allegiance to IS. He said the man was not linked to Thursday's attack.

In recent years, Indonesian counter-terrorism forces have stamped out the extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah which was responsible for several attacks, including the 2002 bombings of bars in Bali which killed 202 people, as well as two hotel bombings in Jakarta in 2009 that killed seven people. Terrorism experts say IS supporters in Indonesia are drawn from the remnants of Jemaah Islamiyah and other groups.

Press Association

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