APAC Alert – May 31, 2021 Indonesia: Islamist terrorists arrested in Papua

The national police’s counter-terrorism unit, Densus 88, arrested at least 10 suspected terrorists across districts including Jagebob, Kurik, Tanah Miring, Merauke, and others, in Merauke Regency, Papua, Indonesia on May 28. The arrested individuals are linked to the Islamic State-affiliated Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD). Authorities allege that they were planning suicide bombings and attacks at several churches in the regency. Two of the suspects are a married couple. Densus 88 recovered bladed weapons and firearms at the time of the arrest. The suspects allegedly also had connections to the JAD group responsible for the March suicide bombing in Makassar, Sulawesi. The suspects allegedly also attempted but failed to conduct bombings in 2019 in Merauke.

Assessment: The arrests and planned attacks in Merauke stand out given the rarity of such Islamist incidents in Papua. The presence of such terrorists in Papua has been detected in the past, however at a much lower scale and frequency than in other parts of Indonesia. JAD is known to target minority places of worship in the country, and this plot falls under this. The developments show how there may be a higher risk profile in Merauke due to JAD. They also illustrate how there are radicalized individuals amongst the large population of non-Papuan mainly Javanese Muslims. Transmigration over decades has settled a large number of non-Papuans in Papua. It is likely that more suspects who may be linked to JAD are apprehended in the coming days and weeks, in Merauke regency, and other parts of Papua. There may also be raids in other parts of the country, including in Makassar. Security forces may also increase the monitoring and deployments around churches in Papua to prevent potential attacks.

Advice: Clients in Indonesia are advised to follow the latest developments. Avoid the vicinity of places of worship in Papua. Remain vigilant of possible suspicious behavior by individuals in crowds. Report any suspicious activity or objects to relevant authorities. Exercise caution at all times, especially in public areas such as crowded districts, airports and train stations. Be wary of sites that could likely be targeted by terrorists, including religious sites, government buildings and restaurants frequented by westerners. Adhere to all instructions and advice issued by local authorities. Prepare contingency plans for possible disruptions to supply chain, transportation, and business. Monitor advisories and alerts from APAC Assistance for updates.

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