Farouk Arnaz & Telly Nathalia, Jakarta – The National Police's elite anti-terrorism squad arrested five militants, including Para Wijayanto, leader of the terrorist group Jamaah Islamiyah, in various locations in West Java and East Java over the weekend, a spokesman said on Monday.
Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, the imprisoned former leader of the banned Al Qaeda-linked group, previously pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
Jamaah Islamiyah was responsible for several acts of terror in Indonesia, including the deadly Bali bombings in 2002, the J.W. Marriot hotel bombing in Jakarta in 2003 and the Australian Embassy bombing in Jakarta in 2005.
The group has not featured much since Ba'asyir's arrest and the death of prominent bombmakers Noordin Mohammad Top and Al Azhari.
In 2007, Detachment 88 arrested Zarkazih, alias Mbah, who replaced Ba'asyir as leader of the organization. Their struggle continued under the leadership of Abu Dujana, who previously led the organization's military wing.
"[Para Wijayanto], who was arrested on Saturday, joined Jamaah Islamiyah in the 2000s and became a trusted figure in the organization, responsible for intelligence," National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said.
Para, who goes under various aliases, was arrested with his wife, only identified by the initials M.Y., and their driver, B.S., at a hotel in Jatisampurna, Bekasi, on Saturday.
"M.Y. has played an active role in the organization led by P.W. [Para], while B.S. was arrested because he served as middleman between the amir and new recruits," Dedi said, using the Arabic term for "ruler," commonly used by Islamists to refer to their leaders.
The police spokesman said between 2013 and 2018, under Para's leadership, the organization had sent at least six groups to Syria for military training or to participate in the fighting.
"Most of them have returned to Indonesia and some of them were arrested in May," Dedi said.
Another suspect, only identified as A., was arrested in Kebalen, Bekasi, on Sunday. He is believed to have been one of Para's most trusted aides, tasked with running the organization's network in East Java.
The fifth suspect, arrested in Ponorogo, East Java, on Sunday has been identified as B.C., alias Khaidar, alias Deni, alias Gani.
Dedi said Para, who received training in the southern Philippines, has expertise in bombmaking, tactical combat and intelligence gathering.
He was actively involved in several terrorist attacks, including the 2000 Christmas Eve church bombings in Jakarta, the Bali bombings and the Australian Embassy bomb.
Para also played an active role in sectarian clashes in Poso, Central Sulawesi, between 2005 and 2007.
He graduated from a state university in Central Java, majoring in civil engineering. Imam Samudra, who was executed for his role in the 2002 Bali bombings, studied engineering at state-run Diponegoro University in Central Java.
Dedi said Para became the leader of Jamaah Islamiyah after the South Jakarta District Court declared the organization a terrorist group in April 2008.
"Imagine if their organization keeps growing and has human capital and economic power; they will wait for the right time to implement their plans to establish a caliphate in Indonesia. This is the reason Detachment 88 conducted this preventive strike," he said.