Myanmar Embassy Bomb Plot Involved Use of Chemical Explosives

An Indonesian police armored vehicle (C) stands posted outside the Myanmar embassy compound (back L) in Jakarta before the arrival of anti-Myanmar demonstrators on May 3, 2013. (AFP Photo/Romeo Gacad)

An Indonesian police armored vehicle (C) stands posted outside the Myanmar embassy compound (back L) in Jakarta before the arrival of anti-Myanmar demonstrators on May 3, 2013. (AFP Photo/Romeo Gacad)

[Updated at 8:09 a.m., Monday, June 3, 2013]

The terrorist cell allegedly behind a foiled plot to bomb the Myanmar Embassy in Jakarta was planning to detonate a sophisticated chemical explosive in what a bomb expert at the National Police called a first in Indonesia.

Bombs seized in raids on alleged leader Sigit Indrajit’s terrorist organization uncovered evidence that the plotters were assembling bombs with hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, known as hexamine, a highly explosive organic compound.

“Our chemical analysis proved that they were trying to mix hexamine in their homemade bomb,” the source said.

“If successfully mixed, it is certain they would have highly explosive bombs.”

The expert warned that hexamine could also be used as part of a chemical weapon to poison victims.

“We are digging up information on where they learned [how to make these bombs] and how they got the materials,” the source said.

Sigit, the alleged mastermind be behind the embassy bomb plot, was arrested on May 22 at Tanjung Priok Port in North Jakarta, having just arrived back from Sumatra, where he had fled after the plot was uncovered earlier that month.

Two other suspects in the bomb plot, Sefa and Achmad Taufiq, were arrested on May 2 while they were traveling by motorbike in a busy residential area in South Jakarta with five assembled pipe bombs.

Police claimed that they were able to thwart the bombing plan because they had been monitoring Sigit’s moves. Police subsequently raided Sigit’s house in Pamulang, South Tangerang, but he had already fled.

The group reportedly planned to bomb the embassy in retaliation for attacks against Muslim Rohingya by Burmese Buddhists in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. The violence has prompted angry protests in Indonesia, where Islamic radical groups have called for jihad against Myanmar.

In a separate incident over the weekend, a nail bomb exploded at the office of a delivery company in East Java’s Lumajang district on Saturday afternoon.

The bomb expert at the National Police told the Jakarta Globe that the bomb was a low-yield explosive featuring a detonator and electrical and mechanical switches.

“That definitely rules out the possibility that it was a fish bomb,” the source said, referring to a type of device commonly used by fishermen in the area.

The source declined to say whether the explosion, in which no injuries were reported, was linked to any act of terrorism, but noted that the site was close to the forested slopes of Mount Semeru, where police suspect paramilitary training activity may be taking place.

Police have detained four people for questioning, including one who was believed to have assembled the device at the office and fled following the explosion.

East Java Police confirmed the arrest of the main suspect, Fungki Isnanto, and said he had admitted to having learned how to assemble the device over the Internet.

Top counterterrorism officials warned last week that terrorists in the country were growing increasingly Internet-savvy, using the Web for everything from disseminating radical ideology and recruiting new members, to hacking financial services websites and providing instructional videos on bombmaking.