JAKARTA – Indonesian police have arrested the leader of Jemaah Islamiah (YI), a terror organization behind the deadly terror attacks on the island of Bali in 2002 and 2005, official sources said Monday.
Para Wijayanto was arrested on Saturday at a hotel in Bekasi – a satellite city east of Jakarta – after 15 years on the lam, national police spokesperson Dedi Prasetyo confirmed to EFE.
Prasetyo said three male and a female members of YI – which has been linked to the al-Qaeda terror network and stopped carrying out attacks on Indonesian soil in 2007 – were also arrested between Saturday and Sunday in the West and East Java provinces on charges of hiding or helping the self-proclaimed “Emir” of the organization.
Authorities have accused Wijayanto of being in-charge of the group’s logistics and training as well as sending fresh recruits of Syria and coordinating with other radical groups under the banner of Al Qaeda in both Syria and the Philippines.
His capture comes against the backdrop of the arrests of 12 YI members – several of whom had received training or fought in the Syrian civil war – since May 7, the director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, Sidney Jones, told EFE.
Since the beginning of the conflict, YI has sent dozens of its members to Syria for military training, and they may have taken part in the fighting there, according to the expert.
Jonas said that the recent arrest will not affect the survival of YI in a major way, although it could lead to important information about “the structure, the number of members and activities in Syria.”
On Oct. 12, 2002, YI perpetrated the worst terror attack in Indonesia in decades. They killed 202 people, most of them foreigners. In 2005, the group perpetrated another one in which 23 lost their lives. Both attacks were carried out in Bali.
Since 2007, YI has stopped attacks on Indonesian soil following the mass arrest of many of its leaders. This brought Wijayanto to the organization’s helm.
YI has declared itself to be against the doctrine of the Islamic State terror group.
Currently, the most active terror group in Indonesia is Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, with ties to the IS. However, according to Jones, YI still poses a danger, especially in case its members with military training decide to split.
In January, the Indonesian government announced it would grant an early release to octogenarian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, YI’s spiritual leader who was sentenced to prison in 2011.
However, it later backpedaled its decision, claiming that Bashir had refused to pledge his loyalty to the state of Indonesia.
Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, accounting for around 88 percent of its more than 265 million inhabitants.