Police name suspect in Poso bomb plot
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Central Sulawesi Police have come up with a name of a militant allegedly involved in the recent Poso bomb plot and other security threats, and have intensified efforts to pursue the suspect and other
alleged members in his group.
“His name is Santoso,” Central Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Dewa Parsana said on Wednesday. Dewa, however, refused to reveal further details.
Based on information gathered by The Jakarta Post, Santoso used to be a member of Basri’s gang. Basri is among the two most wanted militants on the police list for his alleged involvement in a series of violent acts in conflict-torn Poso.
On Feb. 1, 2007, officers of the South Sulawesi Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) arrested Basri and his counterpart, Ardin. The arrests of Basri and Ardin took place in Kalamaya village.
Previous Poso Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Rudy Sufahriadi said Ardin was believed to have carried out the fatal shooting of Rev. Susianti Tinulele at Efata Church in Palu in 2005, while Basri was the mastermind behind the blast using a homemade bomb in a flashlight in Kawua village that killed a staff member of the Poso General Elections Committee in 2006.
Basri was also accused of shootings at the Anugrah and Imanuel churches in 2005 and of belonging to the Hasanudin group linked to the beheadings of three female Christian students in Poso in 2005.
After the arrest of Basri, Santoso took over the group’s leadership. Santoso’s group was allegedly responsible for some attacks, including the shooting of local police officers at a security post of a private bank on Jl. Emmy Saelan, Palu, on May, 2011.
Two suspects, believed to be Santoso’s sidekicks, were shot and killed by police officers in a forest. Santoso fled and left Poso for around six months before returned to train his members. Tamanjeka hamlet is believed to be the center of the terror group.
It remains a mystery whether Santoso is part of the radical Islamic group Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) or whether he has set up his own group.
A former member of a local hardline group in Tokorondo village in Poso Pesisir, who is now a peace activist in Poso with the initials AT, told the Post and the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) Central Sulawesi chapter representative Dedi Askari, that Santoso visited him at his home just a day before a bombing in Kawua, Poso Kota Utara, on Oct. 11.
“He stayed here until late and even threatened me. I told Dedi about this. I told him [Dedi] that if, one day, I was shot and killed, then Santoso would be behind it,” said AT, adding that he had no idea that Santoso was currently the most wanted man in Poso. After threatening him, AT said, Santoso headed to Palu.
Poso, with a population of around 215,000, was the site of bloody clashes between Christian and Muslim communities between 1997 and 2001 that took the lives of around 1,000 people and displaced 25,000.
But after a government-brokered peace pact in 2001, local extremists, many of them linked to and directed by some terrorist groups like JAT and Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), mounted attacks on Christians and local officials in the hope of reviving the conflict.
Since August, there has been escalating violence in the regency, with at least four shooting incidents by unknown gunmen recorded, leaving two police officers dead.
The terror attacks taking place in Poso over the past two months include the shooting of civilians, murders of police officers and bombing.
The recent security threats have ignited fears of a reoccurrence of the sectarian conflict that once ravaged the Christian-majority regency.