JAKARTA: Indonesian police have foiled potential terror attacks in at least three locations, days after the capital was hit by bombings and gunfights that killed eight people and injured dozens, Jakarta police chief Inspector-General Tito Karnavian revealed in an exclusive interview with Channel NewsAsia on Friday (Jan 22).
The plots were hatched by seven people, who are among 13 suspects arrested in various provinces following the mid-day attack on Thamrin Road in central Jakarta on Jan 14.
The group, according to Inspector-General Tito, was preparing to execute their own mayhem when arrested.
“Henro is the leader of the other cell. He also got a plan to attack other targets. The timing is likely to be different,” he said, adding the suspects were still in the process of determining their targets.
“It seems to us that the plot of attacks by this cell – Henro’s cell – is in the stage of survey.”
The group had already acquired guns from a prison in Tangerang, Banten province on the western tip of Java, with the help of a convicted terrorist, the police chief said. One revolver and eight pistols had been smuggled out of the prison.
“When our officers went to Tangerang prison to try to confirm about the handguns, they were all, in fact, quite shocked because they didn’t know that nine guns had been stolen and already disappeared from their storage,” Inspector-General Tito said.
“According to them, it was the first time they were aware that the handguns had been stolen by the inmates.”
The current network of terror cells in Indonesia is structured yet flexible and operates at the grass-root level, according to the police chief.
He also cited Indonesian counter-terrorism squad Densus 88, which believes the Islamic State militant group is trying to create “lone-wolf cells” to allow the terror network to continue plotting attacks even if one or two cells are destroyed.
“Now, we’ve got reasons to crack them down. Before, even though some of these networks had already been identified by us, but since they had not committed any crime, what we could do was only seeing and monitoring them. No law enforcement could be charged on them,” the police chief explained.
A week after the latest terror attack on Indonesia, Inspector-General Tito said there is sufficient evidence to charge all 13 suspects. More arrests are also expected, as police press on with the crackdown on Indonesia’s terror network.
Watch the interview on Channel NewsAsia's Primetime Asia on Friday (Jan 22) at 7pm (SG/HK).