Protesters throw fireworks at riot police in this undated file photo. (Antara Photo/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

Detained IPB Lecturer Made Real Bombs, Not Molotov Cocktails, Police Say


OCTOBER 03, 2019

Jakarta. A lecturer of Bogor Agricultural University, or IPB, in West Java who is currently detained for illegal possession of explosives, had allegedly recruited and paid people to make bombs, not just Molotov cocktails as reported earlier, police said on Thursday.

Abdul Basith, 44, was arrested in Tangerang, Banten, on Sept. 28, in separate predawn raids targeting a group police believe had been planning violent acts during an anti-government rally by Muslim hardliners set for later in the day.

At least 10 members of the group were arrested and police initially said they had seized 29 Molotov cocktails from Abdul.

"We can confirm now that the 29 improvised explosive devices are real, powerful bombs with massive destructive potential. Please understand that these are not Molotov cocktails," National Police spokesman Senior Comr. Asep Adi Saputra told reporters.

Asep said the devices consisted of gunpowder-filled glass bottles controlled by fuses, with nails strapped around them to make them more lethal.

"If it exploded, these bombs would have caused massive destruction. It's not as simple as a Molotov cocktail. [The explosives] were placed inside glass bottles, so glass splinters would add to the impact, along with the nails strapped around the bottles," he explained.

Jakarta Police spokesman Senior Comr. Argo Yuwono said separately that Abdul also acted as the group's financier and that he recruited people with experience in dynamite fishing to help produce the bombs.

"The suspect provided the funding to recruit fishing bomb experts. They came to Jakarta from Papua and Ambon and he gave Rp 8 million [$560] to pay for their plane tickets," Argo said.

Despite strict regulations against blast fishing, the use of homemade explosives by fishermen is still rampant in several parts of Indonesia.

Police also arrested a retired Indonesian Navy officer suspected of being the leader of the group, which plotted to use the bombs during a rally by the so-called Mujahid 212, to spark unrest aimed at toppling President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

They were charged with the illegal possession of explosives, which is subject to capital punishment under the 1951 Emergency Law.

Gufroni, an attorney for Abdul, said on Wednesday that his client denied media reports claiming that he was the mastermind or financier of the group.

"We hope the Jakarta Police will ensure that the suspect's rights are fully respected and that the case is investigated thoroughly, in accordance with due process," Gufroni said.