Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Australia's Jakarta embassy 'always' a jihadist target: Radical cleric arrested


Radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir is escorted by anti-terror officers into police headquarters in Jakarta.

The weekend raids allegedly uncovered a bomb laboratory, a vehicle being prepared as a car bomb, plans to attack police headquarters buildings in Jakarta and Bandung and a list of foreign embassies and tourist hotels.

Cleric Abu Bakar Bashir:
According to Indonesian media reports, he denies all allegations but refuses to cooperate, saying: “It is haram (forbidden in Islam) to answer questions from the Western and Israeli puppets.”

AUSTRALIA'S Jakarta embassy, bombed in 2004, remains a jihadist target, Indonesia anti-terrorism coordinator Ansyaad Mbai said today.

“It's always that way,” Mr Mbai said, responding to an ABC report that a group allegedly associated with the arrested Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir had planned to attack the embassy.

The 71-year-old Bashir was arrested yesterday morning, after five members of his Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid were captured at the weekend in three West Java locations.

Another eight suspects in the alleged bombing operation were reportedly rounded up yesterday by Detachment 88, the police counter-terrorism taskforce.

The weekend raids allegedly uncovered a bomb laboratory, a vehicle being prepared as a car bomb, plans to attack police headquarters buildings in Jakarta and Bandung and a list of foreign embassies and tourist hotels.

A national police spokesman today refused to disclose if Australia's embassy was on the list, saying disclosing specific targeted establishments would cause unnecessary panic.

However, International Crisis Group's Sidney Jones, a leading authority on Islamic terrorism in Southeast Asian, said it was unlikely any specific operation had been well-developed by the West Java group.

Noting the evidence for one target, the police Mobile Brigade's Bandung building, was a drawing in a notebook, Dr Jones said: “I don't think we should conclude that plans were very far advanced, it may not have been more than discussions.”

Mr Mbai said it was clear from the West Java arrests terrorist cells were once again developing bombing capabilities.

Following the February discovery of a new terrorist training camp in northern Aceh, with which police claim Bashir is also deeply implicated, security officials speculated the militants had switched from large-scale bombings, with the high risk of Muslim collateral casualties, to Mumbai-style targeted assaults using firearms and grenades.

“But now they have a bombing capacity, they have bigger opportunities ... they will attack whoever they can attack,” said Mr Mbai.

Bashir, who can be held in custody for seven days before charges are required to be laid, was under questioning again today at the national police's criminal investigation office in Jakarta.

According to Indonesian media reports, he denies all allegations but refuses to cooperate, saying: “It is haram (forbidden in Islam) to answer questions from the Western and Israeli puppets.”

Australian

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