Although the authorities have not made any public statement on the matter, many believe that extremist groups are behind a recent spate of attacks involving books containing explosive sent by mail. Inspector Ansyaas Mbai, head of the anti-terror department, blames radical Islamic movements, like Jemaah Islamiyah, the Islamic State of Indonesia and the Mujahedeen Kompak.
The recent bombings were carried out by “old players within the old terror network”, based on their modus operandi and the evidence collected at the sites where attacks occurred, which are “closely related to their (political) ideology,” he said.
The anti-terrorism expert noted that Muslim extremists used similar methods in the past, during sectarian clashes between Christians and Muslims in Poso (central Sulawesi) in 2006.
“The only different thing is the packaging. Now, they use books as bomb cover; in the past torches were commonly used. When the torchlight was set on, the bomb went off,” Mbaai explained.
Targets are another major difference. They include Indonesians seen as close to or puppets in the hands of the Americans and the Israelis.
Targets are labelled “common enemies”, people opposed to the introduction of Sharia, Islamic law, or to the establishment of an Islamic state in Indonesia.
The fear is that some Indonesians now favour a Pakistani-styled Islamist shift in which government leaders, officials and security forces become the hostage (if not the target) of terrorist groups.
Last week, terrorists targeted the former chief of police and current anti-drug boss, General Gories Mere, a Catholic. Another would-be victim was former West Java police chief Is Sukandar.
Indonesia’s first radical Muslim group appeared in 1959, a secessionist-oriented group called Darul Islam, whose military wing, the Tentara Islam Indonesia, launched a guerrilla campaign against the government of then President Sukarno. Their goal was the creation of an Islamic state.
In the subsequent decades, attacks were carried out, including the 2002 bombings on the resort island of Bali that killed more than 200 people.