The Wall Street Journal - Chemical-Bomb Plot Inspired by Islamic State: Indonesian Police

The Wall Street Journal - Chemical-Bomb Plot Inspired by Islamic State: Indonesian Police

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16 августа 2017 г. Anita Rachman.

Five arrested over alleged plan to build complex bombs that would escalate capacity of local militants.

JAKARTA—Indonesian police are investigating an alleged terror plot by Islamic State supporters suspected of attempting to build chemical bombs for attacks at the presidential palace and other targets.

Five people have been arrested, police said, just ahead of Thursday’s planned celebrations for the anniversary of Indonesia’s independence. Police said the attacks were to be carried out by the end of this month, but didn’t say whether they were planned to disrupt the events specifically.

The use of chemicals as a terror agent would mark an escalation in the capacity of Indonesia’s militants, who have been unable to build sophisticated explosive devices in recent years. Police said the type of device planned was more complex than the pressure-cooker bombs typically used.

“We found chemicals and written documents detailing instructions on how to create chemical bombs,” said Yusri Yunus, spokesman for the police in West Java. The arrests were made Tuesday in Bandung, about 90 miles southeast of Jakarta.

Police didn’t say how close the suspects were to completing a device to disperse chemicals, nor did they identify the type of chemicals found. Mr. Yunus said the smoke from one substance “could burn the skin.”

Among those arrested were a husband and wife, police said, but the identities of the suspects haven't been disclosed and it is not known if they have legal representation.

About 5,000 police and military personnel will be deployed at sensitive locations in Jakarta during Thursday’s celebrations, police said. Such holiday deployments are customary in Indonesia. In May, a pair of terror-related blasts killed three police officers who were stationed at a bus terminal ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“We stay alert during the National Day celebrations,” said Prabowo Argo Yuwono, spokesman for the Jakarta police.

Police said the suspects were part of an umbrella group of extremist factions that have pledged allegiance to Islamic State. They said the bomb-making instructions came from a blog belonging to Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian militant operating from Syria who has been linked to other plots.

Mr. Naim is suspected of remotely organizing an attack in Jakarta in January 2016 that left four civilians and four attackers dead. It was the deadliest attack on Indonesian soil in recent years. Police have attributed several plots to him since.

Indonesia’s worst terror attack was the Bali bombing in 2002, which killed 202 people, many of them tourists, and was carried out by the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah. Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim majority country, improved its counterterror capabilities after the attack.

However, a new generation of militants have been inspired by Islamic State, with hundreds of Indonesians traveling to the Middle East to fight with the group, authorities say. Still, most recent attacks in Indonesia have been carried out by militants who never left the sprawling archipelago nation.

Arrests and deaths of suspected terrorists in Indonesia more than doubled to 170 in 2016. In recent years, militants have targeted symbols of a state, especially the police, which they accuse of holding back the Islamist tide.

In neighboring Australia, authorities this month said they had foiled a plot overseen by a senior Islamic State controller to release a chemical bomb into a crowded area, such as a commuter train or bus.

Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan alleged that two men arrested were in the early stages of devising a “chemical-dispersion device” designed to release highly toxic hydrogen sulfide gas. The plot was believed planned with the help of an unnamed Islamic State member who sent components and instructions to the pair in Sydney via air cargo from Turkey.

The plan was devised after a plot to bomb an airliner bound for the Middle East was abandoned for unknown reasons, Mr. Phelan said.

The men will face court this year.

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