Indonesian authorities believe a husband, wife, and 4 children aged 9 to 18 carried out a series of 3 terrorist attacks on Christian churches in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city.
It’s the worst terrorist attack in Indonesia in more than a decade.
Authorities believe the Indonesian terrorist group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) helped plan the attack.
The first explosion at the Santa Maria Catholic church, which killed four people, was followed by attacks at the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal church and GKI Diponegoro church minutes later on Sunday.
Police identified the mother as Puji Kuswanti and said that she and her two daughters, Fadila Sari, 12, and Pamela Rizkita, nine, bombed the GKI Diponegoro church.
At the same time, the family’s two teenage sons, Yusuf, 18 and Alif, 16, rode motorcycles close to the entrance of the Santa Maria Catholic church, where they detonated their bombs. Their father, Dita, drove a car bomb into the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal church.
The blasts occurred within minutes of each other, just after 7.30am (0030 GMT) on Sunday morning as parishioners were heading into the churches for services.
Karniavan said he suspected the family involved had recently returned to Indonesia from Syria, where hundreds of Indonesians have travelled to join Islamic State, including entire families.
Isis claimed responsibility for the attacks through its media agency, Amaq, but did not produce any evidence for the claim.
To send your nine and twelve year old daughters into a church with bombs strapped to them is sad beyond words. But we’ve seen Palestinian extremists make suicide bombers out of their children before.
A surveillance video captured to the two brothers on motorcycles blowing up a church:
Breaking: Video showing one of the Surabaya attackers riding a motorcycle into the grounds of a church and detonating a bomb. pic.twitter.com/X0DBrHB4p9
— Adam Harvey (@adharves) May 13, 2018
Last week, five officers were killed during a prison riot by Islamists:
Sunday’s attacks follow a deadly prison riot at a maximum-security detention facility in West Java last week, when Islamist inmates killed five officers after taking them hostage, and controlled three prison blocks for 40 hours.
The church attacks were probably linked to the prison hostage standoff, said Wawan Purwanto, the communication director at Indonesia’s intelligence agency.
“The main target is still security authorities, but we can say that there are alternative [targets] if the main targets are blocked,” he said.
News of the riot at the Mako Brimob detention centre, for which Isis also claimed responsibility, has reverberated through jihadist networks, said Todd Elliot, a Jakarta-based security analyst from Concord Consulting.
“Whatever happened in Mako Brimob has certainly reinvigorated domestic militants. Online jihadi social media has been abuzz in the last couple of days with celebratory messages and calls for more attacks,” said Elliot.
However, the degree of coordination – multiple bombings at three locations just minutes apart – suggests the Surabaya attack was well planned.
“As far as the capabilities of Indonesia jihadists, this was definitely a well-organised and well-coordinated attack,” said Elliot.
The myth that Indonesia is a “moderate Muslim” country has been taking a beating in recent years.
I have visited Indonesia many times, and on every visit I have seen churches and Ahmadi mosques closed and Ahmadiyya and Shia communities forcibly displaced after their villages have been violently attacked. I have met with representatives of traditional local religions who face discrimination in schools and other public services, and with followers of “Gafatar,” a syncretistic movement blending together teachings of the Abrahamic faiths – Islam, Judaism and Christianity – and banned as “deviant.” Year-on-year, the statistics show, incidents of intolerance have risen; this is not a new phenomenon.
In fact, Indonesia is as intolerant of other religions as most Muslim countries, although the persecution is “unofficial.” Those that take part in this persecution are not all “extremists.” There are plenty of ordinary people whose silence allows this persecution to take place.
The JAD has found fertile ground in Indonesia for support and recruitment. And considering the number of ISIS members who have returned from Syria, this is not going to be the last such attack on Christians.