The Jakarta Post
An Indonesian couple affiliated with an Islamic State-linked terrorist group is believed to be behind the suicide bombing of a church on Jolo Island in the Philippines earlier this year.
The husband and wife had been identified as members of the Indonesian homegrown terror group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) from Makassar, South Sulawesi, National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said on Tuesday.
“They are two Indonesian nationals identified as Rullie Rian Zeke and Ulfah Handayani Saleh,” Dedi said as quoted by kompas.com.
Dedi said that the two suspected perpetrators had entered the Philippines illegally and undetected by local authorities, causing difficulties for authorities during the initial investigation.
“The identities of the perpetrators were not recorded properly by the [Philippine authorities], and therefore we had a hard time identifying the suicide bombers,” he went on.
The police finally uncovered their identities after an investigation following the arrest of two suspected terrorists and members of the JAD network identified as Novendri and Yoga, in Padang, West Sumatra, and Malaysia, respectively, in June, Dedi said.
According to the police, Rullie and Ulfah were sent to the Philippines by an alleged mastermind of multiple terror attacks in Indonesia, identified as S or Daniel or Chaniago, who is believed to be staying in Afghanistan.
S, who was believed to have financed the couple’s journey after learning of their intention, had been on the National Police’s most-wanted list for a long time, Dedi said.
The bomb attacks hit the Our Lady of Mount Carmel cathedral on the majority-Muslim island of Jolo in the Philippines’ Sulu province during Sunday mass on Jan. 27. At least 22 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in the bombing.
Shortly after the assault, Philippine Interior Secretary Eduardo Año stated that an Indonesian man and his wife were behind the attack and were believed to have received help from the Islamic State (IS), which had claimed responsibility for the attack, according to an AFP report.
Jakarta, however, responded by saying that Manila’s claim was still a one-sided statement at the time, with Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto asserting on Feb. 4 that Indonesia would first deploy its officials to the Philippines to verify all the information.
The National Police along with their Philippine counterparts, would soon cooperate to match the DNA of the alleged suicide bombers with those of their families to confirm the couple’s identities. (dmy/afr)