Indonesia’s Densus 88 anti-terror squad arrests state railway employee for alleged link to IS

The police searched the suspect’s home and seized more than a dozen firearms, including pistols, rifles and airsoft guns converted into real guns, as well as hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Nina A. Loasana

Nina A. Loasana

The Jakarta Post


Officers of the National Police’s Densus 88 counterterrorism squad take action during a simulation held on Dec. 16, 2020 at Lebak Bulus MRT Station in South Jakarta. PHOTO: THE JAKARTA POST

August 17, 2023

JAKARTA – The National Police’s Densus 88 counterterrorism squad has arrested an employee of state-owned railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) on suspicions that he is an Islamic State (IS) sympathizer.

The suspected terrorist, identified only by his initials DE, was arrested on Monday afternoon at his rented house in Bekasi, West Java.

DE had rented the house just six months ago and lived there with his pregnant wife and children, according to local neighborhood unit head Ichwanul Munlimin, as reported by several media outlets.

The police searched the suspect’s home and seized more than a dozen firearms, including pistols, rifles and airsoft guns converted into real guns, as well as hundreds of rounds of ammunition, Densus 88 spokesperson Sr. Comr. Aswin Siregar said.

“Investigators are currently recording the types of weapons and their exact numbers,” Aswin said on Monday as quoted by

Indonesia’s firearm regulation is extremely strict and only a few select civilians are permitted to own guns.

Aswin did not give any details on how DE was able to acquire the firearms, but National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ahmad Ramadhan later said that police suspected DE had made the weapons himself.

Ahmad said DE was a staunch supporter of IS and had been actively campaigning for jihad on his social media accounts. He also said DE had posted a poster pledging allegiance to the late IS leader Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurashi, but he did not reveal when the posts were published.

Ahmad added that DE had created a Telegram channel to spread the latest information about global terror activities, translated into Indonesian. The channel was also used to raise funds for IS, he said.

KAI executive vice president Raden Agus Dwinanto Budiadji said the railway company did not tolerate any crimes committed by its employees, especially crimes of terror.

“KAI management will take stern actions if [DE] is found guilty of terrorism. We are ready to work together with the authorities to address this issue,” Raden said in a statement on Monday.

He added that KAI would continue to remind its employees of the importance of national integrity and enhance internal monitoring for extreme ideologies.

DE’s arrest came only days before the country celebrates its 78th Independence Day on Aug. 17.

Details about DE and his arrest remain sparse, and the police did not say whether DE was acting alone or as part of a local terrorist cell.

IS sympathizers

The world’s largest Muslim-majority nation suffered its worst terror attack in 2002, when terrorists bombed two nightclubs in the island province of Bali and killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

IS has inspired the formation of several homegrown terrorist groups, including Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which was outlawed in 2018.

JAD members were responsible for a series of suicide bombings in 2018 against three churches in Surabaya, East Java, killing at least 30 people. The incident shocked the country in part because the perpetrators were three families that had attached suicide vests to their young children in carrying out the attacks.

In 2021, a newlywed couple who were also JAD members carried out a suicide bombing against a cathedral in Makassar, South Sulawesi, killing only themselves.

The group is now largely splintered and has been significantly weakened in recent years after a wave of arrests by counterterrorism police.

Analysts say the threat of extremist attacks in Indonesia has greatly diminished and while arrests of suspected extremists do occur, pledging IS allegiance has been rare among local elements.

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