Revenge against Indonesian police motivates Solo terror attack

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Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Indonesian police revealed yesterday that the terrorists who were arrested in Surakarta (Solo), Central Java, were motivated by revenge in their attacks against the city's police facilities after law enforcement officers had rounded up their fellow terrorists.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said yesterday that based on the documents found by the police on one of the suspects killed during the shootout late last week, it was clear that they were members of an extremist group that targeted the police.

"The message that was written on the documents also said that they sought revenge against the police for having detained their members," Amar said.

Amar also said that the suspects were extremists who were bent on establishing a Sharia-based state (Islamic state).

"Based on the documents that we seized along with the pistol, ammunition and magazines found in the bag of suspect who was killed, it is clear that this group wants to implement Sharia law in this country," Amar told reporters on the sideline of a meeting between the National Police and the House of Representatives' Commission III overseeing legal affairs and human rights.

The police, however, found no evidence that the terror suspect had links to Jamaah Islamiyah, led by radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba'ashir.

National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo earlier said that three terror suspects arrested by the police's counterterrorism squad, Densus 88, last Friday in Surakarta had come from a new group.

The conclusion, according to Pradopo, was based on the ages of the three suspects, who were considered to be relatively young.

The fact that they were captured at a location only 2 kilometres from Ba'ashir's Ngruki Islamic boarding school was just a coincidence, he said.

During the meeting with Pradopo, Golkar Party lawmaker Bambang Soesatyo highlighted a number of irregularities in the raid, which had previously been pointed out by civil society group Indonesia Police Watch (IPW).

IPW previously said that Densus 88 did not follow standard operating procedures that required its members to wear body armour to protect their torsos during the shootout, which later claimed the life of First Brig. Suherman.

The watchdog group also said that the facts presented by the police also contained misleading information.

IPW chairman Neta S. Pane said that the police seized a Beretta pistol with "Property Philippines National Police" stamped on its side, which did not jibe with the information from the Surakarta Police, who previously announced that the weapon fired at the police in an earlier series of shooting incidents was a 9-millimetre FN.

"We are urging the intelligence community to work harder in solving the terrorist attacks against the police in Surakarta. The attacks have caused fear in the community," Soesatyo said.

He also urged the police to launch a joint investigation with police in the Philippines to find out how the Beretta pistol could end up in the hands of one of the suspects.

Pradopo said that the police never claimed that the weapon they seized from the suspect was different from the one used to attack the Surakarta police post.

"We don't have a conclusive report from our investigation in the forensic laboratory," he added.

Pradopo also denied suggestions that the Densus 88 officer who died in the raid was being reckless.

"We never meant to sacrifice our officer. In every shootout, we have to be prepared for a loss of life," Pradopo said.

Meanwhile, Wahyuddin, the director of the Al Mukmin Islamic boarding school, or pesantren, in Ngruki, Sukoharjo, Central Java, acknowledged yesterday that the two terror suspects who were shot and killed on the night of Aug. 31, were former students of the pesantren.

"After receiving information from the police, we looked at their data and it turned out that both of them attended school here [Al Mukmin]," said Wahyuddin.

The terror suspect with the initial F, was identified as Farhan Mujahid, 19 years old. He was born in Jakarta and attended elementary school in Nunukan, East Kalimantan.

In 2008, Farhan stopped his studies at the pesantren due to financial problems. His certificate was withheld by the pesantren because he failed to pay school fees for two years.

The other suspect, with the initial M, was identified as Mukhsin Tsani, also 19 years old. Mukhsin was also born in Jakarta and moved to the Al Mukmin Ngruki after finishing his junior high education in Jakarta. Mukhsin later graduated from the pesantren.

Similar to Farhan, Mukhsin did not pay his school fees for two years, which amounted to 12 million rupiah (US$1,300). Consequently, during graduation, the pesantren withheld his certificate.

"They completed their studies in Ngruki but they did not fulfil the requirements, so they are called former students and not alumni," said Wahyuddin.

Wahyuddin stated the actions taken by Farhan and Mukhsin had nothing to do with teachings at the pesantren, saying that at a relatively young age, they might have been influenced by various media, such as the Internet as well as books outside the pesantren's curriculum.

"They were beyond our supervision after they left here, including when they claimed to have gained experience from conflict areas, such as the southern Philippines. We don't know about that," said Wahyuddin.

Regarding the incident involving both former students of the pesantren, Wahyuddin expressed his concern, saying that the series of incidents in the past two weeks had disturbed the concentration of teachers there.

"Every time there are such incidents, they are associated with Ustadz Abu [Abu Bakar Ba'asyir]. Whatever we do, the focus is on Ustadz Abu," said Wahyuddin, adding that his pesantren focused on deepening Islam.

Kusumasari Ayuningtyas contributed to this story from Surakarta.

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