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Jakarta Post

Two alleged IS supporters among suspected rioters in Jakarta: Police

  • Marguerite Afra Sapiie
    Marguerite Afra Sapiie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, May 23, 2019   /   06:53 pm
Two alleged IS supporters among suspected rioters in Jakarta: Police Police fire tear gas at protesters during a riot near the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) in Jakarta on May 22. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

The National Police have stated that two people allegedly affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) terror group had the intention of launching a terror attack under the cover of rallies protesting the 2019 presidential election results.

With alleged links to the hard-line Islamic Reformist Movement (Garis), the two were among hundreds of suspected rioters that took to the streets in Central Jakarta on Tuesday, National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. M. Iqbal said.

“From the testimony of the two arrested suspects, they confirmed their intention to carry out jihad during the protests on [May] 21 and 22,” Iqbal told a press conference on Thursday. 

“So it is confirmed there are certain groups that wanted to take advantage of the demonstrations.”

The investigators found strong evidence to back up the suspicions, Iqbal said, though he refused to provide further details when asked about the evidence. He said the two suspects came from outside Jakarta. 

In the past, Garis expressed support for the IS movement and sent its members to fight in Syria. Convicted terrorist and firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir was part of Garis’ syuro council, Iqbal said. 

Prior to Tuesday's riots, the police arrested more than 40 terror suspects in May alone. The suspects allegedly planned attacks that were to take place during protests over election results that named the incumbent, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, as the winner.

Iqbal did not say whether the two alleged IS supporters were affiliated with the suspects who were arrested before the protests took place.

“We will reveal the details on their identity and network later because we are still searching for some figures who were mentioned by the two suspects,” Iqbal said. 

The protests, led by supporters of losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, turned into a riot in front of the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) building on Jl. MH Thamrin in Central Jakarta nearing midnight on Tuesday, then escalated and spread with riots in Petamburan and Slipi in West Jakarta. 

The unrest lasted till Wednesday evening, when groups of rioters threw firecrackers at police personnel guarding the Bawaslu building. The rioters also threw Molotov cocktails and stones at the officers, Iqbal said. 

The police had arrested 185 suspected rioters as of Wednesday evening, adding to the 257 people who were previously arrested during riots in different locations in Central Jakarta.