Jakarta (AsiaNews) Security forces remain on high alert because of the possibility of attacks by Islamist militants in December, this according to State Intelligence Agency (Badan Intelijen Nasional or BIN) Chief Syamsir Siregar. Since the death of Malaysian-born terrorist Azahari bin Husin the threat has increased as investigations following his November 8 suicide continue to reveal other terrorist plots around the country.
Citing intelligence sources, the Australian daily reports that Azahari had planned an October 12 terrorist attack in Kuta at the ceremonies commemorating the 2002 Bali attack but was thwarted by tight security. A backup plan was carried out instead on October 1: attacks by three suicide bombers in Kuta e Jimbaran that killed 23 people.
Former general and current BNI Chief Siregar told lawmakers during a special hearing in parliament that the security forces "have to prepare to anticipate any possible attacks. Like previous years, the last days of the year are a very crucial time."
Not only is the evidence collected by the intelligence services for such threats credible, but with Noordin Moh Top still at large, they seem even more likely. Top is considered a top operative of the Jemaah Islamiyah, a group linked to al-Qaeda with a vast network of followers in the region. He is also thought to have been behind the attacks in Bali this year and in 2002.
In order to prevent attacks, the BIN is set to deploy some of its field agents in the Philippines and Thailand; countries that have had a significant experience in Islamic fundamentalism.
Meanwhile, police confirmed the arrest of a number of suspected militants linked to Noordin Moh Top. After two weeks of search, police captured Dwi Widiyarto, 31, an alleged terrorist who is thought to have sheltered Top.
Tighter security measures have also been imposed in Poso (Central Sulawesi province) where locals, especially Christians, have endured a recent escalation of violence.
The central government has set up special joint army-police-intelligence task force in response to criticism from NGOs and public opinion. This unit will operate in Poso for the next six months.
The police has also given General Gories Mere, a Catholic, the task of studying what legal steps might be taken to ensure law and order in Poso.
Several NGOs have indicated that the Tim Bunga (literally The Flower Team) gang is the organised crime group behind the recent spate of murders in Central Sulawesi.
The Commission for the disappeared and victims of violence (KONTRAS) issued a statement early in the week saying that murders in Poso where carried out by well-trained killers using various instruments to kill: guns, decapitation and bombs. (BR)