• Al-Qaeda leader arrested in Indonesia

    The leader of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah (JI), the group behind the devastating Bali bombings, has been arrested in Indonesia along with one of the group’s expert bomb makers, a senior security source told This Week in Asia on Thursday (Dec 10).

    JI was behind all the deadliest terror attacks in Indonesia from 1998 to 2010 before it was weakened by Indonesian counter-terrorism police, who arrested hundreds of its members during the period, including several leaders.

    But the network has been on the rise again lately, accumulating business interests in palm oil plantations as well as the mining industry to fuel its activities.

    The security source identified the leader as Ustad Arif, saying he had been arrested by Indonesian police about two months ago.

    Arif, 54, hails from Klaten, Central Java, and has deep knowledge of Islam, the source said.

    “He is good at managing JI’s vast network and is highly respected by all members of JI,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

    Arif led JI for only eight months before he was arrested, the source said. He was the second JI leader to be arrested within the last two years.

    The security source said JI would “need time to find a figure” to take over leadership of the group.

    “In the meantime, JI will continue to operate. It is very strong but will still need to carry out consolidation as many of their leaders

    He said the Indonesian police counterterrorism squad, Detachment88, had never stopped monitoring or carrying out operations against JI all these years, despite its lower profile. (continued below)

    Muhamad Taufiqurrohman, senior researcher at the Jakarta-based Centre for Radicalism and Deradicalisation Studies, said he expected that JI would now lie low until it selects a new leader.

    Arif’s predecessor, Para Wijayanto, was arrested in July last year and sentenced by a court to seven years’ imprisonment this year on terrorism charges as well as for sending JI members to Syria to fight alongside opposition rebels there.

    Following Wijayanto’s arrest, police discovered he had restructured and rebuilt JI into an organisation that had moved away from donations and robberies as its main source of income into an organisation with business interests in palm oil plantations and other commercial sectors.

    Under Wijayanto’s direction, JI’s palm oil plantations generated enough income to enable the group to pay its “officers” a monthly salary of 10 to 15 million rupiah (S$947 to US$1,061), according to police.

    Indonesian police also arrested JI’s expert bomb-maker, Upik Lawanga, two weeks ago, the source said. Lawanga had been on the country’s most-wanted list for 14 years.

    “Upik, alias ‘Professor’, was arrested with home-made pistols which he had made. He was the student of Dr Azahari Hussein,” said the source.

    Azahari, a Malaysian, made the bombs for the 2002 Bali attacks that killed 202 people, including 11 Hong Kong residents. He was killed in a shoot-out with police in East Java in 2005.

    He was known as one of the deadliest and most lethal bomb-makers in the region, and police have long worried that he had passed on his skills to his students.

    Included among those skills was the ability to assemble improvised explosive devices, said Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, the former counterterrorism chief of the Malaysian special branch, the intelligence arm of the Royal Malaysian Police.

    “While many JI members were trained to assemble an explosive device, the final process, including the circuit board, [was] produced by Dr Azahari ihimself,” said Ayob, who is currently police chief of Malaysia’s Johor state.

    Azahari was known to be extremely meticulous, surveying a target and its location before setting out to assemble bombs and ensure they could inflict “massive destruction”, said Ayob. “He was a genius – an idealist in making bombs that could explode with maximum force,” Ayob added.

    According to the source, Upik is also a skilled bomb-maker who assembled many of the bombs that were set off in Poso, Central Sulawesi, from 2005 to 2007.

    Among the terror attacks linked to Upik are the 2005 twin blasts at Tentena market in Central Sulawesi, which killed 22 people. Upik is alleged to have made the two bombs, said the source.

    After 2007, Upik maintained a low profile in order not to attract police attention, as JI wanted to preserve him for the long term.

    “JI has been hiding Upik meticulously and protecting him as he is a highly prized asset,” the source said. – This article was first published in South China Morning Post.

  • Indonesian woman arrested after robbing gold shop.

    The Police in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province arrested Erri Weneae 37 years old from Indonesia on 11 December 2019. The suspect had stolen 1 Baht of gold from a local gold shop in Tungsong District on 20 November 2019. Officials took the suspect back to where the robbery took place for a re-enactment of the crime. Immigration police arrested the suspect at the Sa Kaeo Province Immigration Office. When they realized who she was and the crimes in her name, officials arrested her on the spot before delivering the suspect to the Tungsong Police Station in Nakhon Si Thammarat.

    During the re-enactment, Erri participated with the police accordingly with no issues throughout the process. She revealed that the first step was to confuse Pakakaew, the gold shop employee working at the time of the robbery. Erri would ask to see several gold pieces before telling Pakakaew that she didn’t want them. As Pakakaew took the gold back and placed them on the wall behind the counter, the suspect grabbed the gold and ran out of the gold shop.

    The security footage inside the shop confirmed Erri’s confession, there was also footage showing the suspect running on the street moments after she left the gold shop. A report was filed to the Tungsong Police and investigation discovered that the criminal was an Indonesian woman. An arrest warrant was issued for Erri Weneau.

    Then on 11 December 2019 officials from the Tungsong Police Station received notification from the Sa Kaeo Immigration Office stating that they have arrested the suspect in the case. The police went to pick up the suspect from Sa Kaeo Province back to Nakhon Si Thammarat, where the gold theft took place. At first, Erri admitted that she was the suspect who stole the gold and claimed that this was her first time stealing gold from a gold shop. Her criminal record revealed different as she had robbed multiple gold shops in other districts. Erri has done this so many times, the Gold Traders Association in Thailand has Blacklisted her name. History also confirms that Erri visits Thailand on a regular basis.

    Credit: INN News
    Credit: INN News

    FB Caption: Erri has done this so many times, the Gold Traders Association in Thailand has Blacklisted her name.


  • Indonesia minister stabbed by IS-linked pair

    Two members of an IS-linked terror network stabbed Indonesia’s chief security minister Wiranto on Thursday, the intelligence head said, as the powerful politician underwent emergency surgery for his wounds.

    Television images showed security officers wrestling a man and woman to the ground in Pandeglang on Java island after the attack on Wiranto, who goes by one name, as he was exiting a vehicle.

    The suspects were identified as 31-year-old Syahril Alamsyah and Fitri Andriana, 21 — a married couple, according to local media.

    They were members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an extremist group responsible for deadly suicide bombings at churches in Indonesia’s second-biggest city Surabaya last year, State Intelligence Agency chief Budi Gunawan told reporters in Jakarta.

    JAD is among dozens of radical groups that have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group in Indonesia, which has long struggled with Islamist militancy.

    Wiranto, 72 — who police have said was one of several targets in an earlier failed assassination plot — was rushed by helicopter to the capital where he was treated for two knife wounds in his stomach.

    “He is currently in surgery and I ask that all Indonesians pray that he gets well soon,” said President Joko Widodo.

    “And I ask for everyone’s help in fighting radicalism and terrorism because we can only do it together,” he added.

    The assassination attempt comes just over a week before Widodo kicks off a second term as leader of the Southeast Asian archipelago of some 260 million people, the world’s biggest Muslim majority nation.

    Three others — a local police chief and two aides — also suffered knife wounds in Thursday’s attack but authorities said they had non-life-threatening injuries.

    – ‘Fought the police’ –

    An eyewitness told an AFP reporter that the female attacker was dressed in a body-and-face-covering niqab.

    “When the car stopped, there were people circling around, protecting him,” he 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.”

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

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

    Authorities routinely arrest suspected IS-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, program director of the University of Indonesia’s Terrorism Study Center.

    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.

    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.


  • Indonesia to Move Capital From Jakarta to East Kalimantan

    JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia’s president has announced that the country’s capital will be moved from overcrowded, sinking and polluted Jakarta to East Kalimantan province.

    President Joko Widodo told a news conference Monday the decision to choose the province on the Indonesian side of Borneo island, which is shared with Malaysia and Brunei, has gone through in-depth studies.

    He said the most ideal site for the new capital will be between Penajam Paser and Kutai Kertanegara districts.

    Indonesia’s decades-long discussion about building a new capital on Borneo inched forward in April when Widodo approved a plan for it to move from Jakarta on Java island, the nation’s most populous.

    Jakarta is a sprawling metropolis of 10 million people that swells to three times that number when counting those living in its greater metropolitan area.


  • At least 222 dead as volcano-triggered tsunami hits Indonesia

    Carita, Indonesia – A volcano-triggered tsunami has left at least 222 people dead and hundreds more injured after slamming without warning into beaches around Indonesia’s Sunda Strait, officials said Sunday, voicing fears that the toll would rise further.


    Hundreds of buildings were destroyed by the wave, which hit the coast of southern Sumatra and the western tip of Java about 9:30 pm (1430 GMT) on Saturday after a volcano known as the “child” of Krakatoa erupted, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

    Dramatic video posted on social media showed a wall of water suddenly crashing into a concert by pop group “Seventeen” — hurling band members off the stage and then flooding into the audience.

    In a tearful Instagram post, frontman Riefian Fajarsyah said the band’s bassist and road manager had been killed and his wife was missing.

    Search and rescue teams were scouring rubble for survivors, with 222 people confirmed dead, 843 people injured and 28 missing, Nugroho said.

    Tsunamis triggered by volcanic eruptions are relatively rare, caused by the sudden displacement of water or “slope failure”, according to the International Tsunami Information Centre.

    Unlike those caused by earthquakes, which trigger alert systems, they give authorities very little time to warn residents of the impending threat.

    The destructive wave left a trail of uprooted trees and debris strewn across beaches. A tangled mess of corrugated steel roofing, timber and rubble was dragged inland at Carita beach, a popular spot for day-trippers on the west coast of Java.

    Photographer Oystein Andersen described how he was caught up in the disaster while on the beach taking photos of Anak Krakatoa.

    “I suddenly saw a big wave,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

    “I had to run, as the wave passed the beach and landed 15-20m inland. (The) next wave entered the hotel area where I was staying and downed cars on the road behind it.”

    Asep Perangkat said he was with his family when the wave surged through Carita, carving a swathe of destruction, dragging cars and shipping containers.

    “Buildings on the edge of the beach were destroyed. Trees and electric poles fell to the ground,” he told AFP.

    In Lampung province, on the other side of the strait, Lutfi Al Rasyid fled the beach in Kalianda city, fearing for his life.

    “I could not start my motorbike so I left it and I ran… I just prayed and ran as far as I could,” the 23-year-old told AFP.

    Kathy Mueller from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said the toll was likely to rise as the conditions on the ground became clearer.

    “The situation, and the death toll, will remain fluid over the next days and even weeks,” she told AFP.

    Aid workers were helping to evacuate the injured and bring in clean water, tarpaulins and provide shelter, she added, saying the group was preparing for the possibility of diseases breaking out in the tsunami zone.

    – Initial error –

    Anak Krakatoa, which forms a small island in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra, emerged around 1928 in the crater left by Krakatoa, which erupted in 1883 killing at least 36,000 people.

    “The cause of the undersea landslide was due to volcanic activity of Anak Krakatoa, which coincided with a high tide due to the full moon,” Nugroho told reporters in Yogyakarta.

    Professor David Rothery from The Open University said that the proximity of the volcano to the coast gave authorities very little time to act.

    “Tsunami warning buoys are positioned to warn of tsunamis originated by earthquakes at underwater tectonic plate boundaries. Even if there had been such a buoy right next to Anak Krakatau, this is so close to the affected shorelines that warning time would have been minimal given the high speeds at which tsunami waves travel,” he said.

    Indonesian authorities initially said the wave was not a tsunami, but instead a tidal surge and urged the public not to panic.

    Nugroho later apologised, saying because there was no earthquake it had been difficult to ascertain the cause of the incident early on.

    “If there is an initial error we’re sorry,” he wrote on Twitter.

    The wave swamped parts of the coast around the Sunda Strait, leaving at least 164 people dead in worst-affected Pandeglang district on Java’s western tip.

    Large numbers of casualties were recorded at two hotels in the area, Nugroho said, without elaborating.

    Eleven people died further north in Serang, while 48 were killed in South Lampung, on Sumatra island.

    “This number is predicted to increase,” Nugroho said.

    Heavy equipment was being transported to badly hit areas to help search for victims and evacuation posts and public kitchens were being set up for evacuees, he added.

    According to Indonesia’s geological agency, Anak Krakatoa had been showing signs of heightened activity for days, spewing plumes of ash thousands of metres into the air.

    Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone nations on Earth due to its position straddling the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide.

    Most recently in the city of Palu on Sulawesi island a quake and tsunami in September killed thousands of people.

    On December 26, 2004 a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in western Indonesia killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

  • Indonesia could learn from Thailand in developing tourist industry, minister says

    Tourism Minister Arief Yahya has said that Indonesia needs to improve three key aspects of Indonesian tourism, and it could do so by learning from its Southeast Asian neighbor.


    Properly developed tourist destinations, skilled human capital and strong marketing were strengths of Thailand, Arief said.

    “The country has managed these three things very well. Its tourist destinations are well-developed, human capital well-managed and its marketing and promotion have been properly implemented,” the minister said, adding that its government and the people had worked hand-in-hand to develop the industry.

    Similarly, Bali also excelled in these three areas, hence the resort island’s status as world-class tourist destination, Arief said.

    “[Thailand] is just like Bali. Its people and destinations are ready to welcome tourists. Meanwhile, promotion and marketing there are ready [to support tourism],” he said.

    Meanwhile, Bank Indonesia monetary and economic policy director Reza Anglingkusumo echoed Arief’s opinion, saying that Thailand could be the benchmark for Indonesia in developing tourism.

    Even though Thailand has fewer tourist attractions than Indonesia, its industry earned US$62.2 billion in 2017, a significant difference compared to Indonesia’s US$14.1 billion in the same year.

    Indonesia, he said, had 1,734 tourist attractions, while Thailand had 1,715. “We could maximize our potential in tourism by capitalizing on foreign exchange, thereby narrowing the current account deficit,” Reza said.

  • Dramatic moment high-school student pulled from rubble three days after Indonesia quake

    Rescue workers in Indonesia pulled an 18-year-old woman alive from the Indonesia quake rubble on Wednesday (August 8), three days after a powerful earthquake killed nearly 400 people and destroyed villages on Lombok island.

    High-school student Nadia Reivana was rescued after a three-hour operation to haul her from a destroyed mini-market in Karang Montok village, Lombok, according to local TV journalist Muzakir, who filmed the scene.

    Rescue workers used grinding machines to get to Reivana, who had survived on eggs and rice, according to Muzakir.

    She is now recovering in hospital, according to local media.

  • Indonesia permanently bans porn images on Google

    Last week, the Communications and Information Ministry announced its plan to filter pornographic content by utilizing the SafeSearch feature in search engine Google.

    Semuel A. Pangerapan, the ministry’s director general of applications and information, said the policy would come into effect starting Friday.

    The SafeSearch feature will be permanently activated in the search engine when it is accessed from Indonesia.

    “The method will filter any pornographic content in the image category, including if a user inputs keywords,” Semuel told on Thursday.

    He said the ministry already blocked pornographic sites, but this was ineffective as the content was easily available through image searches.

    “That’s what we’re trying to eradicate. Concerned mothers have reported that their children search for images by using pornographic words. We are using the SafeSearch method based on our year-long research,” he added.

    SafeSearch is a feature in Google to filter out negative content, such as pornography. According to Google as quoted from its features page, “SafeSearch is not 100 percent accurate, but it can help you filter inappropriate content.”

    Semuel said internet service providers should enact their own policies regarding filtering based on SafeSearch. In the last few days, there have been rumors that the filter has affected YouTube as well, with users’ status changed to “restricted” mode.

    Semuel said the feature should only be applied to Google, and that providers should not broaden it to YouTube

    Source :The Nation

  • Death toll in Indonesia quake rises to 164

    The death toll from a devastating earthquake on the Indonesian island of Lombok has risen above 160, an official said Thursday, as authorities urgently appealed for medicine, food and clean water for some 156,000 people displaced by the disaster.


    Many frightened villagers are staying under tents or tarpaulins dotted along roads or in parched rice fields, and makeshift medical facilities have been set up to treat the injured.

    Evacuees in some encampments say they are running out of food, while others are suffering psychological trauma after the powerful quake, which struck just one week after another tremor surged through the island and killed 17.

    “The death toll rose to 164 people with at least 1,400 people seriously injured and 156,000 displaced,” national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told AFP.

    Local authorities, international relief groups and the central government have begun organising aid, but shattered roads have slowed efforts to reach survivors in the mountainous north of Lombok, which bore the brunt of the quake.

    “We are still waiting for assessments from some of the more remote areas in the north of the island, but it is already clear that Sunday’s earthquake was exceptionally destructive,” Christopher Rassi, the head of a Red Cross assessment team on Lombok, said in a statement.

    He estimated 75 percent of houses are damaged in some villages in east and north Lombok.

    “There are still some evacuees that have not yet been touched by aid, especially in North Lombok and West Lombok,” Nugroho tweeted Thursday.

    Source :The Nation

  • Indonesia to ban dog meat consumption

    The government has agreed to issue a regulation banning the trade in dog meat amid concerns over the spread of rabies and animal abuse following a series of campaigns against the consumption of dog meat in the country.


    The pledge was made during a two-day meeting on the “National Coordination of Animal Welfare” in Jakarta earlier this month, which was attended by government representatives from the Agriculture Ministry and NGOs.

    “All national participants agreed to issue a ban on the trade of dog meat in Indonesia and to prohibit the issuance of health certifications for dog meat for human consumption,” the Dog Meat-Free Indonesia coalition said in a statement to The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

    The coalition comprises local and international pro-animal welfare groups such as the Jakarta Animan Aid Network (JAAN), Animal Friends Jogja (AFJ), Change for Animal Foundation (CFAF), London-based Humane Society International (HSI) and Four Paws (FP). They have long campaigned against dog meat consumption and the cruelty behind the trade.

    The statement cited the ministry’s director of veterinary public health, Syamsul Ma’arif, who was reported as saying that the trade posed a risk to Indonesia’s international reputation.

    “Foreign countries find a low standard of animal welfare and cruelty unacceptable and will stop visiting Indonesia, which is bad for tourism,” he said as quoted by the statement, adding that the trade in dog meat and animals that were not registered as farm animals were illegal.

    The coalition commended the move, saying that the regulation would be a victory for animal welfare that it would make Indonesia dog-meat free.

    HSI president Kitty Block said the organization applauded the Indonesian government’s pledge to end the brutal dog meat trade.

    “We hope that this bold step will send a strong message to other countries across Asia, such as China, South Korea, India and Vietnam where 30 million dogs and 10 million cats suffer unimaginable cruelty for the meat trade, many of them stolen pets,” Block added.

    Several regions in the country such as Central Java, Yogyakarta, Bali, North Sumatra and North Sulawesi are known to have dishes made of dog meat that are sold at street food stalls and restaurants. In Surakarta, Central Java, an estimated 1,200 dogs are slaughtered and eaten daily by dog-meat connoisseurs in the city

Back to top button