Indonesia Arrests More Suspects in Myanmar Embassy Bomb Plot

 Indonesian paramedics remove one of the bodies of two suspected terrorists shot dead during a police raid from an ambulance at a police hospital in Surabaya, East Java province on July 22. Police have been cracking down on terrorist networks in the country. EPA
By I Made Sentana and Joko Hariyanto
Wall Street Journal (blog)

JAKARTA, Indonesia–Indonesian police have arrested several men in an ongoing  manhunt for those involved in a foiled plot to bomb Myanmar’s embassy in Jakarta in May allegedly in retaliation for violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority.

Jakarta Police spokesman Rikwanto said late Wednesday that the antiterror squad arrested Khaerul Ikhwan in a printing shop in an eastern outskirt of Jakarta Tuesday. Police “strongly suspect [Mr. Ikhwan] to have involved in the plan to attack  Myanmar’s embassy,” the spokesman said.

It is unclear who will be Mr. Ikhwan’s lawyer, so it was too early to know how he would plead if formally charged.

Mr. Rikwanto said the police arrested three other men present at the shop, but the police were still investigating what role they allegedly might have played.

Separately, the National Police’s spokesman Agus Riyanto said the police on Tuesday also arrested a man he identified only as “IK” at his house in East Jakarta along with three other suspects.

“IK is a recidivist terrorist. He previously served eight years in prison and was released in 2008,” Mr Riyanto said.

Tuesday’s arrests were made after the police on Sunday  arrested Muhamad Zakaria in Tangerang, west of Jakarta, whom Mr. Riyanto said is suspected to have been the supplier of the bomb that was planned to be used to attack Myanmar’s embassy.

“He’s [Mr. Zakaria] is part of Sigit Indrajit’s network,” he said referring to the alleged mastermind of the plot whom the police arrested in May.

The police also believe the group is responsible for the bomb attack on a Buddhist temple in West Jakarta earlier this month in which one person was slightly injured.

The violence in Myanmar has led to calls for jihad, or holy war, by hard-line Muslim groups in Indonesia, though none has appeared capable of sending fighters there. However, Indonesia has a history of Islamic terrorism, and the huge country was torn apart by bombings more than a decade ago by al Qaeda-linked extremists. Better security efforts in the past several years have diminished the intensity of attacks, but anti-terror police regularly break up small networks.

Almost 90% of Indonesia’s 240 million people are Muslim. Jakarta and the government in Muslim-majority Malaysia have urged Myanmar to get a handle on its sectarian conflict before it spills across Southeast Asia. In April, eight Myanmar Buddhists were killed in fighting with Muslims from Myanmar at a detention center on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, where they were being held for illegal entry.

The latest arrest shows progress in the police efforts to crackdown terrorist network in the country. Terror groups have been severely depleted since a major anti-terrorism push in the wake of large-scale attacks in the early 2000s. But the smaller networks persist even as their main leaders have been jailed.
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