JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia’s anti-terror squad has arrested two militants who were planning to attack prominent places in the country’s capital, including the Burmese Embassy, police said Sunday.
An interrogation of suspected bomb maker Rio Priatna Wibawa, who was arrested this past week, led authorities to the men, said national police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar. All three claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group.
Bahrain Agam was arrested in northern Aceh province late Saturday and Saiful Bahri was captured in Banten province on Sunday, Amar said.
Police had said that Wibawa had sufficient explosives at his home in West Java province to make bombs three times more powerful than those used in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.
Since the Bali bombings, which were carried out by the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah militant group, a security crackdown has netted hundreds of radicals and reduced their capacity for large attacks. But a new threat has emerged from among the hundreds of Indonesians who have traveled abroad to fight with IS and the group’s supporters in Indonesia.
Amar said the arrested militants told authorities they wanted to retaliate against Burma for recent attacks on Rohingya Muslims. They also planned to attack Indonesia’s parliament, police headquarters and television stations. An attack on the embassy could have been carried out this month or next, Amar said.
The embassy in Jakarta was the scene of protests against the persecution of Rohingya on Thursday and Friday. Protests also occurred in Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand.
Sectarian violence in Buddhist-majority Burma has killed scores of Muslims, and thousands have been driven from their homes. The Rohingya face severe discrimination and are considered illegal immigrants by Burma’s government despite many living in the country for generations.
Indonesian extremists responded to sectarian violence in Burma in 2013 with a plot to bomb the Burmese Embassy. More than a dozen militants were sentenced to prison for involvement in the plot.
Amar said the three men arrested this past week were part of a network believed to be involved in a January attack in Jakarta that killed eight people. “We are still investigating and searching for other alleged group members,” he said.
Agam provided some cash and purchased explosives, Amar said, while Bahri was helping Wibawa make bombs.
Police had said that Wibawa, a dropout from an agricultural university who was radicalized by the writings of firebrand cleric Aman Abdurahman, also received funds from radicalized Indonesians working in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Taiwan.
They said he was operating under the direction of Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian militant fighting with IS in Syria.