Indonesian terror group bust raises extremism fears

Arrest of nine members of suspected new group sparks fresh terror campain concerns.


The recent arrest of nine alleged members of what authorities believe is a new terrorist group underscores the need to guard against and crack down on a growing threat posed by extremism, an activist priest said.

Anti-terror squad Densus 88 arrested the men, who allegedly have links to the so-called Islamic State (IS), in Central Sulawesi province.

Authorities said bomb-making material was confiscated during the arrest and that the men were targeting police and military installations.

"This goes to show that people must stay alert and that terrorist groups are still very much active," Father Antonius Benny Susetyo of the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, a rights group, told

Terrorism is not easy to fight against "as it is about ideology," he said.

The government should improve its counter-terrorism policies, he added.

The main counter-terrorism group, Densus 88, which has about 500 members, was formed after the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 209 people. Last year, the squad foiled at least 15 attacks and made more than 150 arrests, according to reports.

Emergence of new terrorist groups

According to the provincial police chief, Brigadier General Rudy Sufahriadi, the suspected terrorists were not part of the East Indonesia Mujahideen, a local group controlled by a notorious known terrorist called Santoso.

Authorities killed Santoso in July last year in Central Sulawesi's Poso district. It is believed that militants belonging to his group still hide in the district's mountainous forests.

"They are a newly-formed group," Sufahriadi told reporters on March 12, without revealing what the group's name was.

Terrorism expert, Ridwan Habib, from the University of Indonesia, said the possible emergence of a new terrorist group linked to IS "is alarming," and that there could be more.

"These people are not afraid of the police or the military and they still recruit members in areas where many police and military are deployed," Habib said.

They are looking to strengthen and spread their ideology so "they can take over the government. They do not recognize a nation state."

Khaerul Ghazali, a former terrorist, said any new terrorist group is probably an offshoot of an old network.

"There must be leaders from old networks involved," he said.

Terrorism is not dead yet, Ghazali warned, five incidents last year that included a would be suicide bomber attacking a Catholic priest in Medan and a petrol bombing in East Kalimantan of a Protestant church that killed a child, shows that.

Source: UCAN

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