JAKARTA — An Indonesian court sentenced an Islamist militant to 7.5 years in prison on Tuesday for masterminding a plot to bomb Burma’s embassy in the country’s capital, while police elsewhere arrested two extremists they said were poised to launch an attack on officers.
The developments highlight the resilience of extremists in Indonesia despite a sustained crackdown by authorities over the last decade that has severely weakened them. Militants with links to al-Qaida were responsible for a series of bloody and spectacular attacks against Western civilian targets in the 2000s.
Sigit Indrajit was the third person to be found guilty in the foiled attack last year on the Burma Embassy, which he and other defendants have said was intended as an act of retaliation against Buddhist-majority Burma for attacks there on ethnic Rohingya Muslims.
The attackers had prepared rudimentary explosives and practiced very poor operational security, for example using Facebook to communicate and post threats against the embassy. Nevertheless, the plot has stoked fears in Indonesia and elsewhere in Southeast Asia that violence against Rohingya in Burma is energizing extremists, who highlight the sufferings of the Rohingya extensively through online media.
Indrajit, 23, showed no remorse after judges at the South Jakarta District Court sentenced him to 7.5 years for violating anti-terror laws.
“I accept this,” Indrajit told The Associated Press when contacted on his lawyer’s cellphone on their way back to jail after Tuesday’s trial. “I will continue my fight, my jihad in Allah’s way if one day I’m free.”
Judge Hariono said the plot was Indrajit’s idea.
According to earlier court testimony, the group practiced bomb making at his house and he handled the financing for the attack.
Indrajit was captured in May, days after police arrested two other militants on their way to the embassy in downtown Jakarta and seized five homemade bombs from a backpack they were carrying. Other explosive materials were found later at their rented house in southern Jakarta. Two others were arrested months later.
The foiled attack was planned for a few days after the country’s most prominent extremist leader, Abu Bakar Bashir, called from prison for jihad and urged Indonesian Muslims to go to Burma to fight. Bashir was the leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah militant network, some of whose members carried out the attacks in the 2000s, including the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings.
The two extremists were arrested by police in Surabaya, the country’s second-largest city, on Monday evening.
Police said in a statement that officers seized bombs and bomb-making equipment from a rented house where the men were staying.
They said the men admitted to planning an attack on a police post in the city on Tuesday morning.
Other possible targets included a large prostitution complex in the city, they said.
Indonesia has more Muslims than any other nation, many of them devout, but in general the practice of the faith is less rigid than in parts of the Middle East and South Asia. But an extremist fringe has long existed, and has been energized over the last 15 years by global jihadi trends.
Lawyers for the arrested men weren’t available.