December 8, 2022
JAKARTA – A suspected Islamist militant killed one other person and wounded 11 in a suicide bomb attack, reportedly in protest at the new Criminal Code, at a police station in Bandung, West Java, on Wednesday.
The suicide bomber is believed to have been affiliated with the Islamic State-inspired group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) and had previously been jailed on terrorism charges, National Police chief Gen. Listyo Sigit Prabowo told a news conference.
The attack happened at around 8.30 a.m. when officers at the Astana Anyar subprecinct station were holding roll call. Police officers tried to stop the perpetrator as he charged into the police station compound brandishing a knife.
Second Adj. Insp. Sofyan died in the subsequent explosion; 10 other officers and a local resident were injured.
The attacker carried two packages, one exploded and the other was blown away by the blast and did not explode. The police bomb squad later carried a controlled explosion on this package.
The police chief said the attacker, identified as Agus Sujatno, was released from prison in late 2021 and investigators had found dozens of documents protesting against the controversial new Criminal Code at the crime scene.
“We found dozens of papers excoriating the newly ratified Criminal Code,” Listyo said.
West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Suntana earlier told Metro TV that authorities had found a blue motorbike at the scene, which they believed was used by the attacker.
Attached to the bike was a note carrying a message decrying the new criminal code as “an infidel product,” Suntana said as quoted by Reuters.
Though there are sharia-based provisions in the new Criminal Code ratified by the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Islamist hardliners have reportedly been angered by other articles that could be used to crackdown on the propagation of extremist ideologies, analysts say.
Todd Elliott, a senior security analyst at Concord Consulting in Jakarta, said it was likely the attack had been planned for some time and was an ideological rejection of the country’s new legal code.
“While all the attention is on some of these sharia-based provisions in the criminal code and how that is an indication of the spread of conservative Islam in Indonesia, there are also changes in the Criminal Code that [Islamic] hardliners do not support,” he told Reuters.
“Including the outlawing of any ideology that goes against the state ideology, Pancasila, and that would also include extremist ideology.”
Ardi Putra Prasetya, a terrorism expert from the University of Indonesia, said the attacker rejected the new Criminal Code.
“It’s not because of its provisions, but because it is a law created by man, which is wrong according to his ideology,” Ardi told The Jakarta Post.
Video footage from the scene of Wednesday’s attack showed smoke rising from the damaged police station, with debris scattered nearby.
Islamist militants have in recent years carried out attacks across the archipelago, including at churches, police stations and venues frequented by foreigners.
Members of JAD were responsible for a series of suicide church bombings in Surabaya, East Java, in 2018. Those attacks were perpetrated by three families, who also attached suicide vests to their young children, and killed at least 30 people.
In 2021, a pair of JAD newlyweds carried out a suicide bomb attack at a cathedral in Makassar, South Sulawesi, killing only themselves.
The group, which is now largely splintered, has been significantly weakened by a wave of arrests by counterterrorism police in recent years.