By M.Sulthan Azzam and Arie Firdaus
Indonesia’s counter-terrorism police Densus 88 arrested 16 suspected militants in different regions of the country over the past several days.
The new arrests brought the number of terrorist suspects rounded up by police to about 300 since May suicide attacks by two families at churches and a police headquarters in Indonesia’s second largest city, Surabaya, killed 14 bystanders.
Five suspects were arrested Sunday in three locations in West Sumatra province – Padang, Bukittinggi and Payakumbuh – provincial police spokesman Senior Commissioner Syamsi told BenarNews.
Two guns were seized from the suspects, said Syamsi who uses one name.
Syamsi said those arrested are suspected of having links to the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a militant network blamed for a series of deadly terrorist attacks in recent years and was outlawed last month by a Jakarta court.
“They are part of JAD,” Syamsi said.
A neighborhood chief in Padang, Susi Khastri, said one of the suspects, identified only by his initial J, had rented a house and lived with his wife and two children for three years.
“Nothing suspicious about them. They sell salt. They were often visited by some people, but that’s normal,” she said.
East Indonesia Mujahidin Network
Police also arrested a suspect believed to be a member of the East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) militant network, identified as M (alias Ato), in East Luwu district in South Sulawesi on Monday, provincial police spokesman Dicky Sondani said.
He said the arrest came after police apprehended two suspects in East Luwu last week and confiscated 15 kilograms of explosive materials.
“They were plotting to blow up a number of places in Indonesia,” Dicky told BenarNews, without giving more details.
Separately, police nabbed two suspects Bone district, about 450 km (280 miles) from East Luwu.
Dicky said they all had ties to Santoso, the MIT leader who was killed a police anti-terrorism operation in 2016.
Densus 88 also arrested six suspected militants linked to JAD in several locations in Bengkulu on Sumatra island, local police spokesman Sudarno told local media. He did not give details on the arrests.
Meanwhile in Malaysia, a primary school teacher could face up to seven years in jail if convicted on charges filed Monday that he had six images and 16 videos of the Islamic State terror group on his mobile phone.
Muhamad Naseefullah, 47, (alias Heawian Einie) allegedly belonged to a WhatsApp group called the rise of the soldiers of Allah. The group allegedly was linked to a failed terror plot against an October 2017 beer festival in Kuala Lumpur that was cancelled following objections from Muslim groups.