Indonesian Police Foil Islamist Terrorist Plot to Bomb Churches in Papua

June 8, 2021

Police in Indonesia have uncovered an Islamist terrorist plot to attack several churches and assassinate a leading church minister in the country’s Christian-majority province of Papua.

Members of the Densus 88 counter-terrorism squad and local police made at least 10 arrests across southern Papua on May 28. The suspects are believed to be connected to Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which has links to the Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) terrorist group. 

Attack

Barnabas Aid provided replacement Bibles to Christians in Papua province after heavy flooding in 2019. JAD terrorists have been planning to bomb churches in the region.

“They intended to commit suicide bombings at several churches in Merauke, Jagebob, Kurik, Semangga and Tanah Miring,” said a police spokesman.

One suspect revealed during police questioning that suicide bombers had attempted twice to kill one of Papua’s most senior church leaders, but he survived because on both the occasions he was targeted, he was out of town.

On Palm Sunday this year, two JAD suicide bombers blew themselves up outside a church in Makassar city on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Nineteen people were injured in the attack, but the toll could have been worse had a security guard not prevented the bombers’ motorcycle from entering the church gates.

JAD, which operates throughout Indonesia, is suspected of carrying out suicide attacks on three churches in the city of Surabaya, on the Indonesian island of Java, in 2018, killing 13 people and wounding 40 others.

Another Islamist terrorist group with links to IS, the East Indonesia Mujahideen, killed four Christian farmers working on a coffee plantation on May 11 in Central Sulawesi. Reported to have 10 members, the East Indonesia Mujahideen’s operations are confined largely to Central Sulawesi province.

Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population and has seen a rise in hardline Islamic ideology in recent years. A generation ago, Muslims and Christians lived peaceably as equals in accordance with the Indonesian guiding principles known as Pancasila.

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