The arrest of a woman suspected of planning to detonate a bomb in a suicide attack and of being an Islamic State (IS) group supporter in Jakarta on Sunday has raised concerns over the involvement of women in terror attack plots in Indonesia.
Indonesia police’s Densus 88 counterterrorism squad has arrested several women on allegations of helping male suicide bombers prepare attacks over the past few years.
But the arrest of Dian Yulia Novi, who was allegedly prepared for an attack on the State Palace, shows that for the first time, a woman may have been given a key role in a terror attack plot.
Dian’s alleged role also marks a global trend in which terror groups employ females in suicide attacks.
At least 200 suicide bombers have blown themselves up, killing thousands of people since 2014 in countries like Pakistan, Nigeria, Iraq and Syria.
Dian allegedly planned to detonate a 3-kilogram triacetone triperoxide (TATP) bomb at the State Palace during the Presidential Security Detail (Paspampres) handover ceremony.
But the plot failed to materialise after Densus 88 arrested her along with two other alleged accomplices in Bekasi, West Java, on Saturday.
University of Indonesia (UI) terrorism expert Ridwan Habib has claimed that Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian fighting in Syria alongside IS, instructed Dian to target the State Palace, following attacks involving female bombers in Syria.
The expert said the foiled terror plot could inspire more female suicide bombers in Indonesia to launch similar attacks in the future.
“Until now, security officials have only focused on prospective male attackers and that’s why Bahrun Naim’s group switched to something new by using a woman as a suicide bomber,” Ridwan said on Monday.
Ridwan said the weight of the explosive was light enough for Dian to carry among the crowd gathering for Car Free Day on Sunday, before making her way to the weekly Paspampres ceremony at the State Palace compound, which has been open to the public since August this year.
“If the police did not arrest her the day before, she would have been able to walk around freely carrying the 3-kg bomb in a bag without being watched by our security personnel, who are only accustomed to watching suspicious men in a crowd.
“This shows that Bahrun is finding new ways to instruct his followers to launch an attack,” Ridwan said.
Another terrorist expert, Sydney Jones, said the TPAT bomb was identical to the explosive used by IS-related groups in Paris last year.
“The explosive is the same type used in Paris,” she said. – The Jakarta Post