Embassy bomb plot: 2 more charged

Two more men were charged in court in connection with a plot to bomb the Myanmar Embassy in Jakarta in May, in a case that shows how the plight of Muslim Rohingya has become a rallying point for militants here.

The trial of Achmad Taufik alias Ovie, 22, and Rokhadi alias Shiro, 28, also shows how the outlawed Negara Islam Indonesia (NII), which wants an Islamic state and which spawned other radical groups such as Jemaah Islamiah (JI), is continuing to recruit young people.

Prosecutors said Achmad and Rokhadi met ringleader Sigit Indrajit, 23, on Facebook, as did Separiano, 29, the first man in the group to be charged last Friday. Sigit is awaiting trial.

Achmad and Rokhadi were charged in the South Jakarta District Court on Monday with plotting a terrorist act or assisting in the planning of such an act; and of plotting to commit a terrorist act that could result in injuries or deaths or damage to buildings.

However, they are unlikely to get the death sentence, analysts say, as nobody was injured or killed.

Terrorists in Indonesia are getting younger, say analysts. While their focus has largely shifted to domestic targets like the police, the case showed that international issues like the Rohingya refugee crisis, widely covered in Indonesia, can motivate radicals to act.

Sectarian violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar against the minority Muslim Rohingya left scores dead and drove thousands from their homes.

Prosecutors said Rokhadi joined the NII in 2011 and met Sigit on Facebook. He was shown jihad clips by a fellow NII member and, together with Sigit, agreed to take an oath to fight against the those who "persecute Muslims".

This is an oath they believed sacred, similar to that taken by JI in the 1990s with JI spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir. Bashir, from his prison cell last year, threatened to launch attacks on Myanmar, and earlier this year issued a fatwa calling for jihad against Myanmar. "The accused carried out an evil conspiracy," prosecutor Okto Ricardo told the court, to cause mass casualties and damage as a warning to the Myanmar government to stop persecution of the Rohingya.

Early this year, he said, Rokhadi and Achmad joined a small team, and were ordered by Sigit to launch an attack against the Myanmar Embassy after Friday prayers on May 3.

A month earlier, Separiano taught Rokhadi and Achmad to assemble five pipe bombs at a house in Tangerang, Mr Ricardo said. Rokhadi, he said, transferred 300,000 rupiah (S$33) to Sigit to buy a blender and hydrogen peroxide to make the bombs.

"God willing, angels will welcome your plot to bomb the Myanmar Embassy on May 3," Sigit wrote to Rokhadi.

Acting on a tip-off, police caught Separiano and Achmad as they sped on a motorcycle towards central Jakarta to hand over the pipe bombs - concealed in Achmad's backpack - to Sigit.


Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.