Australia claims credit for foiling Indonesia terror plot

The 2002 Bali bombing memorial. Source: Wikimedia

Australian security services claim to have helped neutralise an ISIS-inspired attack in Indonesia and the two governments have agreed to co-operate to tackle radicalism.

Nine people are being interrogated after raids in five cities in the giant archipelago prompted by alerts from Australia, the US and Singapore.

Indonesia’s National Police chief General Badrodin Haiti would not comment on rumours that militants planned to attack Shia communities and had trained a suicide bomber to attack New Year’s Eve celebrations in Jakarta.

It is claimed the group was using the code word ‘concert’ and chemicals were seized but Jakarta is yet to confirm the reports.

“It could be a single [attack], it could be massive, it could be a series, certainly it depends on their preparation and readiness,” Haiti told a press conference in Jakarta.

Police headquarters were among the targets, he said, as well unnamed buildings or key infrastructural locations.

Haiti called for low-key Christmas festivities: “Not too merry, not too excessive, please celebrate it simply.”

The first Indonesia-Australia Ministerial Council on Law and Security, which brought together ministers, police and intelligence agencies, had just been completed.

Indonesia and Australia agreed to enhance co-operation on cyber crime, intelligence sharing and blocking terrorism financing, said Attorney General George Brandis.

“It’s the purpose of today’s meeting to deepen and strengthen what is already a strong relationship. That relationship at a policing level does include where appropriate the exchange of relevant criminal intelligence,” he said.

The nine detained suspects were reportedly linked to at least two networks, one of which was affiliated with ISIS, Indonesian police spokesman Anton Charliyan told the media.

Among those detained was a boarding school teacher and a student called Zaenal, who was allegedly being trained to carry out a suicide bombing in Jakarta on New Year’s Day, the Australian Associated Press reported.

A black flag inscribed with text “similar to an ISIS flag” was reportedly found at the teacher’s home, identified as Asep Urip, 31.

The authorities say attacks on the Shia communities on the islands of Java and Sumatra were also planned.

Another suspect in custody, known as Abdul Karim or Abu Jundi, was allegedly hoarding bomb-making components.

“Evidence found in his house [included] books on jihad, electronic components, fertiliser, nails, ball bearings and a map of Jakarta,” Sukoharjo police chief Andi Rivai said. “These people usually add nails, ball bearings to explosive materials to cause greater damage.”

Canberra and Jakarta signed a bilateral agreement on Monday to increase cooperation in preventing terrorist threats.

Indonesia’s Co-ordinating Minister for Security Luhut Panjaitan said: “No country’s immune from a terrorist attack but I can assure you we are working very hard to tackle the terrorist issue and so far we are successful to do so.”

Indonesia has successfully dismantled terror networks since the deadly 2002 Bali bombings, which targeted foreign tourists.

Panjaitan said there were no evidence that foreigners were being targeted this time.

Of at least 800 Indonesians who have travelled to the Middle East to join ISIS, more than 100 have returned to Indonesia, Panjaitan said last month.

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