12/21/2015, 00.00
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Indonesia, maximum alert for Christmas attacks: "brides" and "concerts" main targets

by Mathias Hariyadi
Authorities say the threats are "imminent" and concrete. Fears lone wolf attacks (targeting weddings) and mass attacks (concerts), modeled on Paris. Various terrorist groups linked to the Islamic State. Indonesian President Widodo expected in Papua, where he will celebrate the holiday with Christian communities in the area.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Indonesian authorities have launched maximum alert over possible terrorist attacks to coincide with the holiday season. A closed-door meeting has been held on the issue between the leaders of government in Jakarta, attended by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and cabinet minister Pramono Anung.

The executive believe the threats are "imminent and concrete". The proof is contained in some documents seized recently by counter-terrorism squads, in which there are direct references to two key words: "concerts" and "brides".

In Indonesia, the terrorists have started using recently these two terms to refer to terrorists or extremist movements active throughout the country. The word "concert" is comparable to attacks on a large scale, as happened in Paris on the evening of November 13 last year, with many attackers and different targets. In contrast, the term "bride" - already used for some time - is used to indicate the single suicide bomber, the "lone wolf" ready to blow themselves up in the crowd.

According to intelligence sources, there would be evidence of "imminent" terrorist attacks to coincide with the holidays; the documents discovered by the investigators also contain the names of terrorists and their "wives", maps, weapons and place names as well as the goal of potential attacks.

Indonesian police chief, Badrodin Haiti, reports that these terrorist groups based in Central and East Java are linked in various ways to the militias of the Islamic State (IS). "However, we arrested them - he says - before they could strike." Investigators have arrested nine people, some of them former members of Isis returned from jihad missions overseas; others are active sympathizers and militants operating on Indonesian territory.

The main targets indicated by the terrorists include churches and police stations as well as the Police headquarters in South Jakarta. Moreover, already for three months the alert in Indonesia - the world's most populous Sunni Muslim nation, where Catholics are a small (3%) minority – has been "maximum" for fear of bombings against Christian targets during Christmas.

As well as Christians and their places of worship, members of the Shiite Muslim minority are also a possible target, concentrated in some suburbs including Pekalongan (Central Java), Bandung (West Java) and Pekanbaru (Sumatra). Gen. Anton Charliyan, police chief, confirmed the targets located in Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Slogans and post urging followers to hit the Shiite community are circulating online. He adds that, invigorated by the success and the media hype of the massacre of Paris, militiamen "are planning a big 'concert' here in Indonesia".

President Jokowi issued a high alert order and reinforced security measures around the places of worship and the main institutional targets. In addition, in the coming days he is expected in Papua, on the eastern edge of the Indonesian archipelago, where there are the only predominantly provinces in the Christian country, to celebrate the feast of Christmas.

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