Indonesian security minister's attackers belong to Islamic State-linked terror network: Official

Indonesian security minister's attackers belong to Islamic State-linked terror network: Official

Wiranto stabbed stepping out of car during visit to Pandeglang, in the Banten Province
Indonesian security minister Wiranto was stabbed during a visit to Pandeglang, in Banten province. (Photo: Pandeglang Regional Police)

JAKARTA: A man wielding a knife attacked Indonesia's chief security minister Wiranto on Thursday (Oct 10) during his visit to a town on the island of Java, injuring the minister and three others. 

Television footage showed the minister slumped to the ground beside his car after the attack in Pandeglang, in Banten province. Security officers were seen wrestling a man and a woman to the ground. 

"Someone approached and attacked him," said national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo, adding that the couple have been arrested. 

The two suspects belong to the Islamic State-linked terror network Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), said State Intelligence Agency chief Budi Gunawan.

"We have been able to identify the perpetrators as JAD members," he told reporters in Jakarta.

JAD is among dozens of radical groups that have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group in Indonesia.

Wiranto being evacuated on a stretcher after stabbing
Soldiers carry Indonesian Chief Security Minister Wiranto on a stretcher to a waiting helicopter on Oct 10, 2019. (Photo: AP/Rafsanjani) 

Wiranto, a former military general, suffered "two deep wounds" in his stomach but was conscious and in stable condition, according to Berkah Hospital spokesman Firmansyah.

He was later rushed by helicopter to the capital Jakarta.

The other three victims - a local police chief and two aides - had non-life threatening injuries, the hospital said.

Wiranto, 72, had been in the area to open a new building at a university and people were lining up to shake his hand and take selfies with him before the attack around noon, said Banten police chief Tomsi Tohir.

"When the car stopped, there were people circling around, protecting him," an eyewitness said.

"But a man got into the circle and stabbed Wiranto. The woman also tried to stab him. He was arrested and the woman fought the police," he added.

The suspects have been identified as 31-year-old Syahril Alamsyah and Fitri Andriana, 21.

Police seized sharp weapons they were carrying, including knives and a pair of scissors, said the Banten police chief.

President Joko Widodo said that security had to be improved and the network behind the attack dismantled.

"I have ordered the chief of police and the head of intelligence, supported by the Indonesian army, to investigate thoroughly and to punish the perpetrators," Widodo told reporters after visiting the minister at the military hospital in Jakarta, where Wiranto was undergoing surgery.

Indonesian police and military carry Indonesia's Security Minister Wiranto to a helicopter
Indonesian police and military carry Indonesia's Security Minister Wiranto to a helicopter. (Photo: AFP/Sammy)

Wiranto being evacuated on a stretcher
Indonesian Chief Security Minister Wiranto carried out on a stretcher after being stabbed by a knife-wielding man on Oct 10, 2019. (Photo: AP/Rafsanjani) 

Last year, JAD staged a wave of suicide bombings by families - including young children - at churches in Surabaya, killing a dozen congregants.

READ: Surabaya attack: Teen suicide bomber seen crying inconsolably before bombings, says witness

Many past attacks by Indonesian militants have been against police and other state symbols.

Authorities routinely arrest suspected Islamic State-loyal militants that they claim were planning bomb and other attacks.

"JAD members are targeting what they call Ansharut Thagut (tyranny) and that includes senior government officials," said Muhammad Syauqillah, programme director of the University of Indonesia's Terrorism Study Center.

Jakarta's chief security minister Wiranto said Indonesia was looking to rewrite the terms on a
File photo of Indonesia's chief security minister Wiranto. (Photo: AFP/ADEK BERRY)

Wiranto, the retired chief of the armed forces and a failed presidential candidate, was appointed to his post in 2016 and oversees several departments, including the foreign affairs and defence ministries.

He has faced controversy over alleged human rights violations and allegations of crimes against humanity linked to Indonesia's brutal occupation of East Timor.

Wiranto was indicted by a UN panel over the bloodshed surrounding East Timor’s 1999 independence vote, when about 1,000 people were killed. Wiranto denied any wrongdoing in East Timor.

In May, police said Wiranto and three other top officials were targeted in a failed assassination plot linked to deadly riots in Jakarta after Widodo's re-election victory.

A group of six people - arrested before they could carry out the killings - planned to murder the officials and an election pollster in a bid to plunge the country into chaos, police said at the time.

Source: Agencies/ga/zl/nc