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The National Police said on Monday that the bomb-making materials found in several areas in Greater Jakarta had been prepared for a string of terror attacks targeting police officers and Buddhists.
Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar told reporters that suspected terrorist Muhammad Thoriq, who surrendered to the police on Sunday, admitted that his group had planned to attack the police’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob) command center in Kelapa Dua, Depok; a police station in Salemba, Central Jakarta; the office of the police’s Densus 88 counterterrorism unit and the Buddhist community.
Boy said that the Buddhists were targeted in relation to the religious violence involving the Buddhist majority and the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
The officer said that Thoriq, one of the bomb makers, was planning to detonate the bomb himself. “It is true that he was one of the ‘grooms’,” Boy said, using the term used by the militants to describe suicide bombers.
In the past few days, the police have arrested a number of suspected militants believed to be connected to the terror shootings in Surakarta, Central Java, that killed one policeman last month. They also found bomb-making materials in Tambora, West Jakarta, and in Beji, Depok, where the bomb exploded prematurely, injuring at least five people.
Thoriq allegedly made the bomb found in Tambora. He fled his house after his neighbors found out about his activities. From his house, the police confiscated bomb-making materials such as sulfur, potassium, charcoal, aluminum powder, two boxes of nails, duct tape, four 9-volt batteries, five 25-centimeter pipes filled with explosives, electronic switches and several detonators.
In their latest operation, the Jakarta Police said that in a joint operation between the city police and the police’s anti-terror squad Densus 88, they raided a rented house in Bojonggede, Bogor, on Monday morning, after its tenant Arif, 26, was found to be connected to the Depok blast. “Arif was arrested at around 9 a.m. [on Monday morning]. He is a member in Thoriq’s group but was not in Depok when the blast occurred,” Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said.
Arif’s uncle Deni, who serves as a community unit chief in Arif’s local neighborhood, said that Arif once worked at the so-called Pondok Bidara orphanage in Beji where the bomb went off on Saturday night.
According to Deni, Arif had been approached by a man named Anwar who tried to influence him with talks of jihad. Arif reportedly was uncomfortable with the idea and tried to avoid Anwar. “Anwar called Arif all the time and [Arif] didn’t want to pick up the phone. He even changed his phone number because he was desperate to cut all communications with Anwar,” Deni said.
From the house in Bojonggede, police confiscated pipes cut into pieces and filled with explosives, seven 9-mm bullet magazines, iron tubes for gun barrels and silencers, gas masks and notes on how to make bombs.
Jakarta Police spokesman Rikwanto confirmed that Thoriq was involved in the Saturday night bomb blast in Depok. “Thoriq was on the scene when the blast occurred. He was among several people who escaped the scene shortly afterward,” he said.
Witnesses reported that two men fled the scene on a motorbike, and another man on foot, just after the bomb rocked the house in Beji. Police seized a large stash of bomb-making materials, including six pipe bombs, three grenades, a Berreta pistol, two machine guns, potassium chloride, five 9-volt batteries and an electric detonator that were found in the house.
The police also found a letter that was addressed to Thoriq’s mother, wife and baby boy. “Thoriq’s letter said that he is looking for Allah,” Boy said.
The police are still trying to identify the man who was critically injured in the Depok blast. “We have received DNA samples from possible family members. But none of them could identify the victim due to the extent of his injuries,” Boy said. (nad)