JAKARTA, KOMPAS.COM - The long arm of the law has finally caught up with Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) head Rizieq Shihab, as the possibility of getting arrested by the Jakarta Metropolitan Police prompted the firebrand cleric to turn himself in.
The FPI is also confirmed to lose ground in official circles, as Coordinating Minister for Political, Security and Legal Affairs Mahfud MD scrapped plans to reconcile with the group even before Rizieq’s return from exile in Saudi Arabia on November 10.
In another development, the Indonesian National Police’s Detachment 88 counterterrorist police arrested a fugitive from the first Bali Bombing in 2002 at Lampung Province.
Read on to get the details on these stories.
1. Indonesia Highlights: Jakarta Metropolitan Police Arrests FPI Chief Rizieq Shihab
The Jakarta Metropolitan Police has officially arrested Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) head Rizieq Shihab hours after the firebrand cleric turned himself in on Saturday, December 12.
“Rizieq will be detained until December 31. He will be in our custody to keep him from evading us, to keep him from obstructing justice, and to facilitate our investigations [of the FPI],” said Indonesian National Police spokesman Inspector General Argo Yuwono.
Jakarta Metropolitan Police spokesman Chief Police Commssioner Yusri Yunus agreed. “[Rizieq] was afraid of getting arrested, so he turned himself in."
"His arrival at the Jakarta Metropolitan Police was not as a witness summoned for questioning, but as a suspect in a number of cases.” Yusri added that the police also offered Rizieq’s accomplices the option of turning themselves in or getting arrested.
Rizieq denied going on the run. “I did not show at the previous police summons on December 1 and December 7 because of ill health."
FPI’s secretary Munarman said: “[Rizieq] hopes that the case against will not divert public attention from the police killing of six FPI members on a toll road outside Jakarta.” The incident left four FPI members at large.
The police said they killed the FPI members after the latter crashed into a police car shadowing them. The men then started to attack with sharp weapons and guns. The FPI denied instigating the attack.
The police brought various charges against Rizieq, among them violating health protocols, inciting violence, and obstructing a police investigation.
The police focused on him after he held large gatherings that violated health protocols, soon after he returned from three years of exile in Saudi Arabia on Novembe 10.
These include celebrations near his residence in Petamburan, Central Jakarta to mark the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, as well as his daughter’s wedding reception on November 14.
2. Indonesian Government Scrapped Plans to Reconcile with FPI
Indonesia’s security czar has denied allegations that the government plans to mend fences with the Islamic Defenders Front and its chief Rizieq Shihab before the latter’s return from exile in Saudi Arabia last November.
“I would like to emphasize that the government has no plans to reconcile with Rizieq and the FPI," said Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD on Saturday, December 12. "But we did plan to start talks in a neutral country before he returned to Indonesia.”
However, the talks broke down because the terms that Rizieq and the FPI set for reconciliation with the government were too steep.
“We were surprised by [Rizieq’s] speech [on arriving in Indonesia] calling for the government to release a number of men convicted of terrorism and other crimes,” Mahfud said. Rizieq fled to Saudi Arabia in 2017 to evade pornography charges laid against him by the police.
Investigators laid the case against Rizieq after he played a major role in the 212 Alumni, a collection of conservative Islamic groups that helped incumbent Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan beat his Chinese Christian predecessor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama.
3. Indonesia’s Densus 88 Counterterrorist Police Capture 2002 Bali Bombing Fugitive
The Indonesian National Police’s Detachment 88 counterterrorist police have nabbed a fugitive from the first Bali Bombing in Lampung Province on the evening of Saturday, December 12.
“[Detachment 88] captured Zukarnain, who was also known as Aris Sumarsono, Daud, Zaenal Arifin as well as Abdulrahman, in the regency of East Lampung,” state news Antara quoted Indonesian National Police spokesman Inspector General Argo Yuwono as saying.
“We also suspected him of coddling his fellow militant Upik Lawangan, whom we captured at the end of November.”
Argo noted that the 57-year-old, who hails from Sragen, Central Java, did not resist arrest. However, this belied his notoriety and influence within Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the terrorist organization blamed for the attack.
“Zulkarnain was an important JI field commander during the time of the bombing, as he formed the organization’s Khos Unit or special task force,” he said. “Aside from the Bali attack, the Khos Units also fought in the Poso and Ambon conflicts.”
The first Bali Bombing, which occurred in 2002, killed 202 people from Indonesia and other countries. Most or 88 of the foreigners who perished in the attack came from Australia. Indonesian authorities executed JI militants Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Ali Ghufron for carrying out the attack.
The authorities also sentenced the bombers’ accomplices to lengthy jail terms, including Ali Ghufron’s brother Ali Imron.
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