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Jakarta Post

Bahrun Naim: Computer geek turned IS recruit

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

  /   Mon, January 18, 2016   /  10:58 am
Bahrun Naim: Computer geek turned IS recruit

Born on Sept. 6, 1983, in Pekalongan, Central Java, Muhammad Bahrun Naim Anggih Tamtono, alias Abu Rayan, has jumped into the spotlight after being named the orchestrator of the suicide bombing and shooting attack that rocked the Sarinah shopping center in Central Jakarta on Thursday.

Although he is currently thought to have joined other foreign fighters in the Islamic State (IS) movement in Iraq and Syria, Bahrun is still registered as a member of a neighborhood unit in the Sangkrah subdistrict in Surakarta, Central Java.

His hometown friends remember him differently from the fear-breeding terrorist suspect of today. Childhood friend Abdullah, 33, said that Bahrun was known to be a computer enthusiast and had graduated from the Sebelas Maret University (UNS) with a diploma from the mathematics and natural sciences department.

He was also involved in social activities and was the head of the computer science student association at UNS.

'€œI was just shocked and in disbelief. How did he suddenly become a terrorist? That'€™s a pretty big jump, if you ask me,'€ Abdullah said.

Bahrun first came to prominence in 2010 when the National Police'€™s counterterrorism unit Densus 88 arrested him and confiscated hundreds of bullets in his possession. He was eventually sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison by the Surakarta District Court for violating Emergency Law No. 12/1951 on the possession of illegal firearms.

Throughout the hearings, Bahrun maintained his innocence and claimed that he had been holding onto the bullets since 2005 for an acquaintance by the name of Purnomo Putro, also known as Ipung. Purnomo is currently on Indonesia'€™s most-wanted list for his alleged involvement in terrorist-related activities.

The police force believe that following his release in June 2012, Bahrun officially pledged himself to IS in 2014 and traveled to Syria in February 2015 after becoming a disciple of master recruiter Aman Abdurrahman, a terrorist convict, while serving in prison.  

Bahrun was connected to several failed terrorist attacks last year, including a plan to attack police stations, churches and temples in Surakarta. These attacks were foiled after the police arrested four men last August.

The police also believe that he may have been connected to the 14 terrorist suspects arrested in Central Java, West Java and North Jakarta this month and in December. He has also been connected with the disappearance of Muhammadiyah Surakarta University student Siti Lestari, who reportedly dropped out and was declared missing in March last year. She is believed to have traveled to Syria to become Bahrun'€™s third wife.

How the 21-minute carnage unfold

10:45 a.m.: The first explosion takes place at the Starbucks cafe located inside the Cakrawala Building near the Sarinah shopping center on Jl. MH Thamrin, Central Jakarta. Ahmad Muhazan bin Saron, 25, is suspected to be the one who committed the first suicide bomb attack.

10:46 a.m.: A second explosion occurs at a nearby traffic police post, which leads to the death of civilian Rico Hermawan, 20, who had been taken to the police post for an alleged traffic violation. Although Dian Jodi Kurniadi, 26, has been confirmed to be the perpetrator, the police have yet to conclude whether this explosion was a suicide bomb attack or simply a planted bomb that went awry.

10:50 a.m.:
A crowd comprising civilians and traffic police gather around the area to inspect the explosion at the police post. Soon after, reinforcements from the Jakarta Police arrive to assist the situation.

10:52 a.m.: Two men, identified as Sunakim, 32, alias Afif, and Muhammad Ali, 40, appear from the crowd, walk in the direction of the Starbucks coffee shop and start firing and throwing grenades at nearby police and civilians. The shooting fatally injures Rais Karna, 37, an office boy working for Bangkok Bank. Rais passed away on Sunday from wounds sustained in the attack.

11:00 a.m.: A gunman enters the parking lot of the Starbucks coffee shop and starts shooting. Canadian Amer Quali Tahar, 69, is murdered.

11:05 a.m.: The police and the gunmen start firing at each other and the showdown leads to four officers getting shot. During the shoot-off, Afif and Ali attempt to throw bombs at the police and are eventually cornered into hiding behind a car. One of the thrown bombs successfully explodes near the police, while the other explodes prematurely near one of the gunmen, instantly killing both.

11:06 a.m.: Police officers comb the area for the next four hours for any other perpetrators. Although no one else is found, the Jakarta Police secure six active bombs that had yet to be detonated.

Forensics analysis results

The National Police'€™s forensics unit concluded on Saturday that the bombs used and found during Thursday'€™s attacks were low-grade explosives.

The materials of the bomb that detonated inside the Starbucks coffee shop included a metal pipe used for the casing, light bulbs as part of the detonator, motorcycle batteries, explosive material, metal slabs and nails and bolts.

Meanwhile, the materials of the bomb at the traffic police post included a 3 kilogram gas cylinder used for the casing, light bulbs as part of the detonator, motorcycle batteries, explosive material, metal slabs and nails and bolts.

According to Sr. Comr. Hudi Suryanto of the forensics unit, the materials are similar to materials found in a bomb that was prematurely detonated in Beji, Depok in West Java in September 2012, injuring five people.

'€œThe materials used for the explosives are very similar to other bombs. For example, [the bomb] at the mosque in the Cirebon Police precinct. The materials are the same. It'€™s also the same as the one in Beji, Depok,'€ he said.

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