Indonesian police arrest 8 suspected militants, part of a banned extremist group with al-Qaida links

Police conducted raids in Central Sulawesi province between April 16 and April 18

Published - April 20, 2024 05:26 pm IST - Palu

Indonesia's elite counterterrorism police arrested eight suspected militants in recent days believed to be part of a new cell linked to Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaida-linked group, authorities said on April 20.

Police conducted raids in Central Sulawesi province between April 16 and April 18, said Agus Nugroho, the provincial police chief, adding that five suspects were arrested in the city of Palu, two in Sigi, and one in Poso which is a known extremist hotbed.

Two laptops, several cellular phones and documents, including jihadist books were seized and suspects were being interrogated, Nugroho said.

National Police spokesperson Trunoyudo Wisnu Andiko said the arrests were the result of information obtained from 59 suspected militants detained in October 2023.

“(The eight) all actively participate in organisation activities, particularly in military-style training and collecting funds for alleged plans of terror acts,” Mr. Andiko told reporters at the National Police headquarters in the capital, Jakarta. He added that convicted leaders of the group and veteran fighters in Afghanistan were recruiting and training new members.

Jemaah Islamiyah is responsible for several attacks inside Indonesia, namely, the 2002 bombings on the resort island of Bali that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists. A court banned the group in 2008 and constant counterterrorism crackdowns, supported by the United States and Australia, have weakened it further.

Last year, police arrested a total of 142 suspected militants, including four women, and fatally shot two others on southern Sumatra island.

Militant attacks on foreigners in Indonesia have been largely replaced in recent years by smaller, less deadly strikes targeting the government, mainly police and anti-terrorism forces, and people militants consider to be infidels, inspired by Islamic State group tactics abroad.

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