The head of the Indonesian government’s anti-terrorism unit says there are strong indications that the people behind a number of bombs found in Jakarta could have links to the alleged terrorist, Abu Bakar Bashir.
A security guard and three police officers, including one who lost his arm, were wounded when the first bomb detonated at an office building in east Jakarta just after 4pm local time (8pm AEDT) on Tuesday.
It was addressed to Ulil Abshar Abdalla, an outspoken critic of Islamic hardline groups and a senior member of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party.
He is the former director of the Institute for Studies on Free Flow of Information (ISAI) which has its offices at the building where the bomb exploded, but has not worked there for some years.
Two more bombs were found following the explosion of a first device, including one sent to the offices of the National Narcotics Board and addressed to a former high-ranking officer with Indonesia’s crack anti-terrorism unit Densus 88.
A third bomb had been sent to the house of Yapto Soerjosoemarno, the head of the Pancasila Youth as well as the political party, Patriot Party, and who has also been a strong advocate of religious freedom.
While police are yet to confirm whether they have any suspects, National Anti-Terrorism Board chief Ansyaad Mbai on Wednesday said that based on the type of bomb used, it appeared it could be the work of groups with previous links to Bashir.
“This is exactly the same bomb that’s been used in 2006 in Poso,” he told Elshinta Radio.
Bashir, who is currently facing trial on terrorism charges related to the discovery of a paramilitary training camp in Aceh last year, was the leader of the Mujihidin Council of Indonesia (MMI), which is suspected of carrying out bombings in Poso.
The bomb sent to the offices of the National Narcotics Board was addressed to its chief, Brigadier General Gorries Mere.
Gorries is a former high-ranking officer with Densus 88, Indonesia’s anti-terrorism unit which is funded by Australia and the United States.
“I’m convinced that they are the group that has been previously (carried out terrorist attacks) in Indonesia,” Mbai said.
“Gorries Mere is the one they hate the most because he’s playing a great role since the very beginning, since the Bali bombing.
“They’ve been caught after the Bali bombing, after the Marriott … after the (Australian) embassy bombing. After the second Bali bombing, they got caught … Then (they were caught at) Aceh training camp.”
Bashir, the founder of Jemaah Islamiyah, the group responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people including 88 Australians, referred to Gorries last month during his terrorism trial, as well as Densus 88.
“Please know that the allegation of terrorist was deliberately spread by God’s enemy – the Zionists and their allies America and Australia, and followed by Detachment 88 (Densus 88),” he told the court at the time.
Abdalla, the target of the bomb that exploded on Tuesday, also founded the group Jaringan Islam Liberal (Liberal Islam Network), while with ISAI, as part of efforts to counter the growing influence and activism of militant and radical Islam in Indonesia.
It describes itself as “a community which is studying and bringing forth a discourse on Islamic vision that is tolerant, open and supportive for the strengthening of Indonesian democratisation.”
Abdalla is also a member of the national leadership board of the Democratic Party, which he joined after President Yudhoyono won his second term in office in 2009.
The attempted attack comes amid an upswing in religious violence and intolerance in Indonesia including attacks on members of Ahmadiyah, a minority Muslim sect.
The president has made statements recently condemning attacks against Ahmadis after three were killed during a violent rampage involving 1500 people in Cikeusik in west Java’s Banten province last month.