National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. M. Iqbal speaks with journalists in Jakarta on Thursday. (Antara Photo/Yulius Satria Wijaya)

Two Members of Islamic State-Linked Group Arrested During May 22 Rally


MAY 23, 2019

Jakarta. Police said on Thursday that at least two of the 257 people arrested for rioting in Jakarta this week are members of the Islamic State-affiliated Islamic Reform Movement, or Garis.

"The two suspects actually wanted to commit jihad during the rallies on May 21 and 22. We have very strong evidence," National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. M. Iqbal said in Jakarta.

"Garis once issued a statement as an Islamic State group in Indonesia and it has sent its cadres to Syria… This group is affiliated with Islamic State," Iqbal said.

Garis, established in June 1998 by Chep Hernawan, is based in Cianjur, West Java. It reportedly has about 28,000 members, mainly in West Java, Aceh and Sumatra, according to news outlet

The group seeks to impose shariah, or Islamic law, in Indonesia. It has been involved in several acts of intolerance, including attacks on four Ahmadi villages in Cianjur in 2005 and a joint action with other hardline groups in 2011 to shut down the Yasmin church in Bogor, West Java.

Chep admitted in 2015 that he had spent about Rp 1 billion ($69,000) to send 157 members of Garis to Syria.

Losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto also caused a public stir in March by using Chep's car during electioneering in Cianjur.

Chep claimed at the time that he was no longer affiliated with Islamic State and that he had ordered his followers to leave the international jihadist group.

The authorities apparently know who is behind the violence that broke out during this week's protest in Jakarta by Prabowo supporters against the result of the April 17 presidential election.

"From our investigations, we know the mastermind behind the rally. The security services will use all their means to take firm legal action," Chief Security Minister Wiranto said on Wednesday.

He said law enforcers needed time before they make their findings public.

"We have an intelligence apparatus that has observed the situation before, during and after the [2019] elections … there are links between these cases. We have concluded that we know who the mastermind is," he said.