On June 3rd, a man drove into Poso Police Headquarters on a motorbike and blew himself up using a powerful explosive.
The bomber, who has not yet been identified, did not manage to kill anybody besides himself. However, the incident has raised concerns that a network affiliated with jailed terrorist Abu Omar is back in action.
"Abu Omar, Abu Roban, Sofyan and Jamil are forming a new group in Poso and West Java," National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) chief Ansyaad Mbai told reporters at a June 4th counterterrorism meeting in Bandung, West Java.
A previous network was chased out of Aceh by Detachment 88 in 2010. But authorities believe remnants of the group have now regrouped in Poso.
"I am sure he [the suicide bomber] was involved in the terrorist network," Ansyaad said.
Tracing the terror links
Former Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) member Nasir Abbas agreed that the suicide bomber in Poso, and other terror suspects recently captured or killed in Central Java, Bandung and Tasikmalaya, are part of one network.
"They are all Abu Omar's supporters and angry that their leader is in prison," Abbas told reporters.
Abu Omar, who led a ring smuggling guns from the Philippines to Java, is currently serving a ten-year sentence for illegal possession of firearms.
Terrorists affiliated with Omar plotted in 2011 to bomb the Singapore Embassy. They were also blamed for attacks on Shia minority groups in Java, on police headquarters in Ambon, Maluku in 2005 and on Indonesia's former defense minister, Matori Abdul Jalal, in 2003.
Indonesian national police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said that within the last few years more and more terrorists have made Poso their base, and they may be influenced by Al Qaeda. He said analysis and mapping conducted by the police showed that the group's actions are similar to al-Qaeda.
"These are groups that are committing terrorist acts, planning and training," Boy told Khabar. "They are all connected."
They are linked, also, he said, to most-wanted militant Santoso, a Poso native. Santoso, aka Abu Wardah, claims to be the commander of Mujahideen force in eastern Indonesia and is suspected of involvement in several attacks in Sulawesi and Java.
Community vigilance, tolerance needed
Religious leaders and Poso residents are critical of anyone who would say suicide attacks are a form of jihad.
"I think all Muslim leaders in Indonesia will agree that suicide bombings, such as in Poso, are not good examples of Islam," said 54-year-old Islamic cleric Agus Sumarjan, who lives in Seatiabudi, Central Jakarta. "I hope people in Poso will continue efforts to improve religious tolerance in the region."
"I do not know why terrorists choose Poso as a base," said Pramanta Kawilarang, 24, a University of Atmajaya student originally from Poso. "In my opinion, they are taking advantage of the difficult geography in the region as well as the social relations which have been tainted by the religious conflict among Muslims and Christians."
Vincent Talayuk, an activist with the Makassar Islamic Youth Association (Persatuan Pemuda Islam Makassar/PPIM), agreed. "If we are not tolerant, it will be easier for terrorist groups to conduct terrorism by using religious [tension] in Poso," he said.
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