Indonesia arrests leader of Al Qaeda-linked extremist network

Indonesian police say Para Wijayanto, a long-time leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, is involved in the 2002 Bali bombings

Agence France-Presse

Published: 11:06 AM July 2, 2019

Updated: 11:10 AM July 2, 2019

ARRESTED. Indonesian police show photographs of leader Para Wijayanto and various seized items, at a press conference in Jakarta on July 1, 2019. AFP Photo

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesian police said Monday, July 1, they had arrested the leader of Al Qaeda-linked extremist network Jemaah Islamiah, which carried out the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people.

Para Wijayanto was detained by counterterrorism police with his wife on Saturday, June 29, at a hotel in Bekasi, a city on the outskirts of the capital Jakarta, National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said.

Police said Wijayanto was a long-time leader of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), one of Indonesia's oldest terrorist groups, which was behind a series of deadly attacks in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

Prasetyo said Wijayanto was also suspected in sending at least 6 batches of Indonesians abroad to fight in Syria, and provided support to militants in the terrorism hotspot of Poso on Sulawesi island.

Al-Qaeda-linked JI was founded by a handful of exiled Indonesian militants in Malaysia in the 1980s, and grew to include cells across Southeast Asia.

The group was responsible for the country's worst-ever terrorist attack, the 2002 Bali bombings in which citizens from at least 21 countries, including 38 Indonesians, were killed.

It was also blamed for the 2003 car bombing at the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta that killed a dozen and a suicide car bomb the following year outside the Australian embassy that killed 10.

A crackdown by Indonesian authorities in the late 2000s almost saw the group wiped out, according to the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC).

In recent years, counterterrorism police in Indonesia have focused their attention on Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group. – Rappler.com