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News reports coming out of Indonesia following the discovery of a large 150-kilogram bomb placed beneath a gas line 50 meters from a Catholic church and not too far from a military weapons depot indicate the severity of the terrorism threat in Indonesia.
As it turns out, the alleged mastermind of the plot was the husband of a civil servant employed by Indonesia’s National Narcotics Agency. Pepe Fernando, 30, was among the 19 arrested in the plot.
Indonesian police say that it was extremely fortunate that the bomb plot was thwarted. An ongoing investigation over the mailing of book bombs resulted in the arrest of five persons and forced police to move on the 19 other suspects, who had been under investigation. The 19 suspects were arrested in seven different places in Indonesia, including three that had fled to Aceh. The plan was to use the explosives to create a much larger explosion with the gas line and videotape the whole incident to be viewed on the Internet.
Police are saying that this group of terrorists had no links to known terrorist groups and were motivated by radical clerics on the Internet. Terrorism analysts say that they were inspired by the arrests of senior leaders of Jemaah Islamiyah.
The incident seems to point out the challenges facing Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country as this foiled plot underlines the emergence of “lone wolf” terrorist groups. Indonesian experts say there are radical terrorist and non-terrorist groups, however, of whatever camp they fall into, officials say they all meet in Aceh.
With a professed moderate Muslim stance and a position of religious tolerance, present and future Indonesian governments will be put to the test on the terrorism front, as underlined by the current episode.
Top News from Southeast Asia
April 24, 2011
These were the most important stories published by Asean Affairs during the week of April 16-22.