Solo Terrorist Suspects Part of New Cell Targeting Indonesian Police
The two teenagers killed in a police shootout in Solo, Central Java, on Friday are part of new terrorist group targeting police for cracking down on radical Islamic organizations in Indonesia, police said on Saturday.
“They were part of a new terrorist group taking revenge against the National Police because we’ve been at the forefront of efforts to uphold the law,” Gen. Timur Pradopo told a press conference at the Solo Police headquarters. “[The] new group… has links to older terror networks in the area.”
Farhan and Mukhsin were both fatally shot near a food stall during a police ambush Friday night. Officers were acting on a information gleaned from the computer of alleged terrorist hacker Maman Kurniawan.
The three men reportedly opened fire on officers with Indonesia’s anti-terrorism squad Densus 88. Police returned fire, killing the two men. Second Brig. Suherman, a member of Densus 88, was also killed in the shootout, police said.
A third suspect, Bayu, was arrested at the scene. The three men were reportedly behind a spate of violent attacks on police stations in Solo that killed one officer in a drive-by shooting earlier this week.
Farhan was the stepson of convicted terrorist Abu Omar and a former disciple of convicted terrorist Abu Bakar Bashir’s Al-Mukmin Ngruki Sukoharjo Islamic boarding school, National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Anang Iskandar said on Saturday.
This new terrorist organization may have ties to Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT), according to a text message sent by National Counterterrorism Agency chief Ansyaahd Mbai.
JAT was dubbed a terrorist organization by the United States earlier this year and has been linked to smaller new terrorist cells on the island of Java.
The men were allegedly smuggling guns and ammunition from the Philippines, where Farhan reportedly spent years fighting a counter-insurgency in the south.
“He lived for a long time in the south Philippines and only returned here in 2010,” National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Anang Iskandar said.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the teenagers resisted arrest when they were shot outside a shop in Ngruki village, considered a hotbed of militant activity.
They were “not working alone”, he said.
Detachment 88 has led a long and successful crackdown on militant groups over the last decade, claiming the scalps of some of the country’s most notorious terrorist suspects blamed for major attacks.
The unit has faced criticism, however, for using excessive force and targeting separatists and pro-independence activists.
Muslim-majority Indonesia suffered a series of deadly attacks over the last decade by terror network Jemaah Islamiyah — blamed for the Bali bombings in 2002 that left 202 dead — but there has not been a major incident in recent years.