Dessy Sagita & Farouk Arnaz
In the third successful yet deadly raid on suspected terrorist hideouts in the past two months, members of the police’s antiterror squad on Friday shot dead two men believed to have played key roles in the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotel bombings in July.
The raid on a two-story boarding house in East Ciputat, Tangerang, took place at close to noon and the ensuing shootout lasted 15 minutes. Three homemade pipe bombs were hurled from inside the house.
“The identity of the two bodies will be officially revealed on Monday as the forensic investigation is still ongoing. However, we believe the deceased are Syahrir and Syaifudin,” Insp. Gen. Nanan Soekarna, the National Police spokesman, said during a news conference.
Nanan was referring to two brothers, Mohamad Syahrir, alias Aing, and Syaifudin Zuhri, both wanted in relation to the July 17 suicide bombings.
Syahrir, he said, was also believed to have been behind a plot to hijack an airplane and crash it into a high-rise building. He is also a brother-in-law of Ibrahim, another suspect involved in the hotel bombings, who was shot dead during a police raid in Central Java in August.
Syaifudin, a younger brother of Syahrir, is believed to have headed the hotel attacks and recruited the suicide bombers. Police last month released copies of a letter that Syaifudin had written in which he claimed to be the new leader of the Al Qaeda terrorist network for Southeast Asia.
Nanan said that the raid followed a tip-off obtained from another terror suspect, only identified as Fr, who was arrested earlier on Friday in Bekasi, just east of Jakarta.
An antiterror police source told the Jakarta Globe Fr, the third suspect, was now being questioned at a safe house in Jakarta.
“We arrested him in Margahayu, East Bekasi, and he told us that he had been providing shelter for the two fugitives in Ciputat,” the source said.
Asked why the police had killed the two suspects instead of trying to capture them, Nanan said: “We did not have a choice. They were throwing [pipe] bombs and we seized seven small bombs from their room.”
The suspects’ bodies were taken to the National Police Hospital in East Jakarta for identification. Nanan said DNA samples from their families would be taken later on Friday to aid in the identification process.
Suwarni, a housekeeper at the boarding house, said the room had been rented by a young man who identified himself as Soni.
“He said he was studying at a university, majoring in science and technology and also working at a company in the Sudirman area,” she said.
The house was not far from the State Islamic University. Also staying in the room was Soni’s friend, a dark-skinned man of medium height, whom Suwarni said she had never spoken to.
“They sometimes worked night shifts and seldom talked to their housemates,” she said. But Suwarni said that Soni did not at all resemble the pictures of Syaifudin and Syahrir made public by the police.
“I’m sure that the person on television didn’t live in this boarding house, unless he sneaked in at night. Then I wouldn’t know,” she said.
Baharuddin, 17, who lives in the room next to Soni’s, also said that he was a 21-year-old student who rarely talked to his neighbors.
Another tenant, Rizky, said a man named Dani was also staying in the room.
Suwarni claimed that she had asked the new tenants to give her copies of their ID cards but that the two had not done so.