Se­cret side

Mother led a typ­i­cal life chat­ting with neigh­bours and swap­ping recipes

The Star Malaysia - - World -

The mother of an In­done­sian fam­ily of six who launched sui­cide bomb at­tacks on three churches led a reg­u­lar mid­dle-class life.

SURABAYA: The mother of an In­done­sian fam­ily of six who launched sui­cide bomb at­tacks on three churches chat­ted with neigh­bours about school­ing and swapped recipes, lead­ing what ap­peared to be a reg­u­lar mid­dle-class life and elud­ing counter-ter­ror­ism forces.

The fam­ily killed at least 18 peo­ple, in­clud­ing them­selves, by bomb­ing the churches in In­done­sia’s sec­ond-big­gest city on Sun­day in the worst mil­i­tant at­tacks in the world’s big­gest Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­try in more than a decade.

Home was a quiet, rel­a­tively af­flu­ent neigh­bour­hood of Surabaya. Most houses in the area have hatch­backs and fam­ily cars parked out­side and in front a small yard typ­i­cally strewn with toys and chil­dren’s bi­cy­cles.

“My wife talked to the mother all the time about the chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion, about recipes. They often met at the lo­cal mar­ket,” said Wery Trikusuma, who lives next door.

“They were quite open and in­ter­ac­tive. They contributed money to neigh­bour­hood re­pairs for roads.

“They often left their front gate open to re­ceive guests, he said, adding it “seemed im­pos­si­ble that they could do this”.

The day af­ter the church bomb­ings, six died, in­clud­ing four bombers, in an­other sui­cide at­tack. An­other fam­ily of five blew them­selves up, but the eight-year-old daugh­ter sur­vived.

In an­other blast in an apart­ment near Surabaya on Sun­day night, three mem­bers of a fam­ily be­lieved

to have been mak­ing bombs were killed when one de­vice went off by ac­ci­dent.

Three chil­dren sur­vived. Po­lice also later shot dead four peo­ple with sus­pected links to the at­tacks.

Po­lice sus­pect the at­tacks were car­ried out by a cell of the Is­lamic State-in­spired Je­maah An­sharut Daulah (JAD), an um­brella or­gani-

sa­tion on a US State De­part­ment ter­ror­ist list that is reck­oned to have drawn hun­dreds of In­done­sian sym­pa­this­ers of the ex­trem­ist group.

The fam­i­lies all lived in or­di­nary mid­dle-class dis­tricts where neigh­bours say they saw few things to mark them out.

“We had re­ceived very raw in­tel­li­gence that there may be an at­tack

in the week be­fore Ra­madan but not about when ex­actly or where,” said a se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial, re­fer­ring to the Mus­lim fast­ing month that started yes­ter­day.

Po­lice said the fa­ther in the fam­ily that at­tacked the churches, Dita Oepri­arto, was head of the lo­cal JAD cell and likely rad­i­calised decades ear­lier.

In­done­sia set up a counter-ter­ror- ism unit, De­tach­ment, or “Den­sus”, 88, in 2003 which is cred­ited with thwart­ing hun­dreds of plots, but the Surabaya at­tacks mark the squad’s big­gest chal­lenge in decades.

In all, around 30 peo­ple have been killed since Sun­day in the at­tacks, in­clud­ing 13 of the sus­pected sui­cide bombers.

Ac­cord­ing to the se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial, Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo de­cided not to fire top se­cu­rity per­son­nel when he learnt of the shock­ing na­ture of the at­tacks and in­stead called for ac­tion to dis­man­tle the net­works and said he would use ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers to force through a strength­ened anti-ter­ror­ism law if par­lia­ment did not act.

The pres­i­den­tial palace did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

“This at­tack demon­strates that en­tire com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies can be rad­i­calised,” Ro­han Gu­naratna, a Sin­ga­pore-based ter­ror­ism ex­pert, said.

“This means that a catch and kill re­sponse alone will not work. The gov­ern­ment must en­gage more with com­mu­nity lead­ers, schools, re­li­gious lead­ers in ad­di­tion to ex­pand­ing counter-ter­ror­ism ca­pa­bil­i­ties,” he said.

Wawan Pur­wanto, a spokesman for the in­tel­li­gence agency, said mil­i­tants were be­ing in­flu­enced by tac­tics in the Mid­dle East, where chil­dren and women have been used in at­tacks.

He said there may also have been a be­lief that the whole fam­ily would en­ter heaven by car­ry­ing out an at­tack to­gether. — Reuters

— Reuters

Ter­ror at home: A po­lice­man stand­ing guard dur­ing a raid at the home of a sus­pected ter­ror­ist as peo­ple watch at the Me­dokan Ayu area in Surabaya.

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