Burma Embassy Bomb Plot Witnesses Freed in Indonesia

By Bayu Marhaenjati & Carlos Paath 7 May 2013

Indonesia’s counterterrorism unit Densus 88 has released five people initially suspected of taking part in a bombing plot on the Burma Embassy in Jakarta, saying the five were now only considered witnesses in the case.

“Four people from SI’s [Sigit Indrajit] family have been released. They are his wife, mother, sibling and brother-in-law,” National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said at the National Police headquarters on Monday. He added that the wife of another suspect, Sefa Riano, 29, had also been released.

Sigit, 23, is suspected of involvement but is still on the run after the police raided his house in Pamulang, South Tangerang.

Two suspects — Sefa, and Achmad Taufiq, 22 — were arrested late on Thursday traveling by motorbike in a busy residential area in South Jakarta with five assembled pipe bombs. They allegedly wanted to exact revenge on the Burma government for its treatment of the country’s Rohingya Muslim population.

Boy said that the police were able to thwart the bombing plan because they had been monitoring Sigit’s moves.

Despite what appeared to be a successful police intelligence operation, lawmakers were critical of the apparent failure of authorities’ efforts to prevent new recruits turning to terrorism, saying that two people arrested in connection with the bomb plot were very young.

“It’s really shocking to see the phenomenon that terrorist suspects arrested by officers are getting younger. This means the process of regeneration and recruitment of terrorists is going smoothly and successfully,” People’s Consultative Assembly deputy speaker Hajriyanto Thohari said in Jakarta on Sunday.

Hajriyanto said that Densus 88 had been relatively successful in arresting or killing terrorist suspects but criticized the police’s de-radicalization program, saying that despite cooperating with several organizations and institutions, it had failed to prevent the rise of a new generation of terrorists.

“Arrests continue to be made but terrorist suspects continue to emerge. Therefore serious and systematic measures are needed to break the chain,” said the Golkar Party politician.

Hajriyanto said that Densus should involve religious experts and activists more intensively in its preventative efforts.

“It’s not enough to have only religious experts and it’s also not enough to have only religious activists but a combination of both is a must,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said there were no special steps taken to protect the Burma Embassy after the foiled bombing, which was reportedly planned for Friday.