The Acehnese have questioned the origin of an alleged terror cell uncovered recently, while the police have arrested two men in Jakarta and in West Java, who had reportedly sold weapons to the cell.
National Police chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri declined to say when the men were arrested, but officials at Jakarta police headquarters said both were taken into custody on Saturday. They spoke to
The Associated Press (AP) on condition of anonymity.
Aceh Deputy Governor Muhammad Nazar said on Monday that none of the terrorist suspects were originally from Aceh, and that both the Acehnese administration and communities questioned their “sudden” presence in the province.
“Never in the history of conflict in Aceh, has there been a terrorist or violent movement acting on behalf of religious or racist ideology,” Nazar said to The Jakarta Post.
Nazar said the Acehnese, the vast majority of who are Muslims, adopted “peaceful” religious teachings and therefore would not support terrorism or extremism.
“We are unhappy with the presence of these terrorist suspects. We will not support them or let them make Aceh their training ground.
“All ulemas and people I meet do not agree with terrorism. They say that it taints religion, peace and development,” he said.
Separately, secretary of the Acehnese Islamic Boarding School Ulemas Association (HUDA), Faisal Ali, said so far no Islamic boarding schools under HUDA had been found to have links with the group.
There are some Islamic schools near the locations of the firefights between the terrorist group and the police, but none of them recognized nor had a link with the unknown group, he went on.
“It’s confusing, where does this group come from and who are they?” Faisal said.
He said the fact that the group had settled in the middle of the jungle, away from the villages, explained that they knew they were not openly welcome in the area.
Muksalmina, spokesman of Aceh Transition Commission, an organization accommodating former members of former separatist group Free Aceh Movement (GAM), denied involvements of former GAM militants in the terrorist group.
“We’ve never heard of the activities of the armed group now being hunted by the police,” he said.
Muksalmina said members of the group might be Javanese transmigrants, with one of the training grounds of the group located in Jalin, Aceh Besar, an area inhabited mainly by Javanese.
Bambang said as of Monday the police had arrested 21 people suspected of being involved in terrorist training in Aceh.
Police said they found a military assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition thought to belong to the militants.
The M-16 rifle had a similar Arabic serial number as another rifle seized from the militants, a detective involved in interrogating suspects told the AP.
The detective, who declined to be named, said one of those arrested was a former member of Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia (MMI). The Java-based group was founded by Abu Bakar Baasyir, the alleged spiritual leader of Jamaah Islamiyah.
Bambang said the police were investigating where the weapons came from, but denied any foreign involvement in the recent armed conflict that led to the death of five police officers and three terrorist suspects. Two civilians also died in the crossfire.