• Sunday, Nov 29, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:53 pm

Anti-social media, online chats foil Singapore rocket attack plan

  • Published at 12:01 am August 8th, 2016
Anti-social media, online chats foil Singapore rocket attack plan

It was social media chatter that gave him away. Changing his profile picture on the LINE messaging app to a banner pledging “Indonesian support and solidarity for IS” probably didn’t help.

Had it not been for all that, Gigih Rahmat Dewa’s plot to launch a rocket attack on the city-state of Singapore from a nearby Indonesian island might never have been uncovered.

Gigih, 31, and 5 accomplices were arrested on Batam island on Friday after an investigation that showed how much Indonesia’s Islamist militants now rely on social media, including with a Syria-based Islamic State jihadi who allegedly directed them to stage attacks.

It also underlined how militants in the world’s most populous Muslim nation, once tight-knit under the Jemaah Islamiah group and internally focused, are splintering into smaller gangs loosely linked to Islamic State with increasingly regional ambitions.

“The men in Batam seem to have been radicalised over social media, specifically using Facebook, rather than directly,” said police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar.

“They have been in communication with Bahrum Naim in Syria. It looks like he sent funds and instructions to them,” he added, referring to the suspected mastermind of the Singapore plot who left Indonesia in 2015 to join the frontlines of Islamic State.

Facebook posts

Jakarta-based security analyst Sidney Jones said Naim, the Syria-based militant, appeared to be using virtually every available form of social media to reach as wide an audience as possible, making it difficult for counter-terrorist forces to track his followers.

In a blog post after the coordinated attacks on Paris last November, Naim urged his Indonesian audience to learn from that assault and explained how it was easy to move jihad from “guerilla warfare” in Indonesia’s equatorial jungles to a city.

Just last month Indonesian security forces killed their most-wanted militant, Santoso, who had been hiding in a jungle. But analysts say he posed a far smaller threat than the cells of Islamists quietly growing in urban areas of the main island, Java.

Experts say a rocket attack on Singapore from a nearby island is feasible, but police found only a stash of bomb-making material, firearms and arrows during their search of the ringleader’s home.

It could be that Indonesia’s would-be jihadis are no more capable of sophisticated strikes than they were in January when a gun and bomb attack by four militants in the heart of the capital, Jakarta, was quickly snuffed out.

Last month a suicide bomber on a motorcycle tried to attack a police station in the city of Solo on Java island, but managed to kill only himself and wound a police officer.

According to police spokesman Amar, investigators had drawn connections between January’s attack in Jakarta and the botched suicide bombing in Solo.

He said the Batam group had been acting as an agent for Indonesians who wanted to go and fight with Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and for militants from China’s ethnic Uighur Muslim minority who wanted to enter Indonesia.

But it was Facebook posts that gave them the breakthrough on the plot to hit Singapore.

“Their terrorist action plans were in Facebook,” he said, without giving detail. “They didn’t announce it but they were discussing it - communicating on social media between all the members.”

blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail