JAKARTA — Indonesian police early on Thursday (Dec 15) nabbed a woman believed to have instructed a female would-be suicide bomber to launch a foiled attack on the Presidential Palace, as a senior Indonesian Cabinet Minister declared that the government is not losing the fight against radicalism.
National police spokesperson Senior Commander Martinus Sitompul said they nabbed the female suspect, Tutin Sugiarti, 37, at a rented home in a village near Tasikmalaya city in West Java at 4.30am (local time).
“She has given motivation to Novi to jihad (martyr),” he was quoted as saying in Antara news portal.
Sugiarti is believed to have played a part in recruiting Dian Yuli Novi, 27, who was arrested on Saturday in Bekasi, West Java. Novi had intended to use a 3kg homemade pressure-cooker bomb for a suicide attack at the palace during the change of guard ceremony on Sunday.
Sugiarti’s husband Hendra Gunawan, 39, was also arrested but it is not clear if he was involved in the terror plot, the authorities said.
Sugiarti is the third woman arrested over the planned Sunday attack inspired by the Islamic State (IS), after Novi and Arida Putri Maharani, 25, were arrested by the police counter-terrorism squad over the weekend.
Novi, who was among a group of seven people arrested, had worked in Singapore as a nanny, while Indonesian reports said Maharani facilitated the use of funds in the making of the bomb. Novi’s arrest came minutes after two men who delivered the bomb were ambushed by the counter-terrorism squad in
East Jakarta. Another bomb maker was later caught in Central Jakarta.
Maharani was arrested on Sunday in Sunda, a town in Solo. She is believed to be the wife of one of the two men and was also being prepared as a suicide bomber.
Authorities said the group was controlled by a new terrorist cell based in Solo. The cell, police said, was set up by Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian militant who is in the Middle East fighting alongside IS militants.
Naim is the mastermind of a terror attack in Jakarta in January, a July suicide attack on a police station in Solo, Central Java, and more recently, a plot to attack Singapore’s Marina Bay by launching a rocket from Batam.
Meanwhile, senior Indonesian Cabinet Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, who is close to President Joko Widodo, said the government needs to reinforce Indonesia’s founding ideology, Pancasila, which included national unity and social justice among its five principles.
He said it has been neglected since the fall of former President Suharto in 1998 ushered in democratic rule.
“We are not losing control (against radicalism),” he declared.
Massive protests demanding the arrest of Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who is on trial for alleged blasphemy, have affected the image of Indonesia as practising a moderate form of Islam and shaken the secular government.
The blasphemy controversy has also given a national stage to the Islamic Defenders Front, previously known as a morals vigilante group with members involved in protection rackets.
Its leader, Rizieq Shihab, told a Dec 2 protest in Jakarta that Indonesia would be peaceful if there was no blasphemy and other problems such as gays.
Mr Pandjaitan said the government has Mr Shihab in its sights.
“We have quite detailed data about him. We’ll see what happens. We know what we are going to do,” he said. “The President is very brave to do whatever is necessary for the benefit of this country. No hesitation at all.”