Southeast Asian militant network Jemaah Islamiah has formed an assassination squad to attack police, prosecutors and judges, a Singapore newspaper reported yesterday, citing an Indonesian official.
Ansyaad Mbai, head of the anti-terrorism division at Indonesia’s Security Ministry, said the group planned to target a list of “infidels” including the rector of a Christian university and an official at the Attorney-General’s Office in central Java, the Straits Times reported.
The setting up of the assassination squad showed the al-Qa’ida-linked terror network wanted to get into the complete spectrum of terrorist attacks, instead of concentrating on deadly bombings and suicide strikes, Rohan Gunaratna, head of the Singapore-based International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, told the newspaper.
Officials uncovered the assassination plans after a series of raids in Java last month, when investigators found charts detailing Jemaah Islamiah’s new structure, as well as a large cache of arms including M-16 rifles.
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“This has never happened before. These M-16s are not hidden in the forests but are carried around. They are well-prepared to use the rifles in pursuit of a target,” Mr Mbai was quoted as saying, adding that the group was targeting both locals and foreigners.
The strength of the assassination squad was not known, but the paper said it might be part of a new military wing formed by Abu Dujana, a senior Jemaah Islamiah operative who has taken over as the group’s leader, security officials say.
Jemaah Islamiah has been blamed for several deadly attacks in Indonesia, including the 2002 Bali bombing that killed more than 200 people, including 88 Australians.
Founded about 1993, Jemaah Islamiah has a goal of creating an Islamic superstate across the southeast Asian region.