Internet blamed for radicalising Medan church ‘lone wolf’

JAKARTA/MEDAN (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Medan church attacker was obsessed with Islamic State Movement Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi and was inspired to carry out the attack after watching his online videos.

The “lone wolf” assailant who planned to blow up a Catholic church in Medan, North Sumatra, was inspired by leader of the Islamic State (IS) Movement Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi and learned how to make bombs on the internet, a top security minister said on Monday.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said that the alleged assailant, 18 year old Ivan Armadi Hasugian, was obsessed with al-Baghdadi and was inspired to carry out the attack after watching his online videos.

“Having been fed misleading news on the internet, he became obsessed [with Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi],’’ said Wiranto.

The National Police, however, gave a different account of Ivan’s motivations, saying that his act was more pragmatic in nature.

National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Agus Rianto said Ivan told investigators he had agreed to carry out the attack for a 10 million rupiah (US$753.86) payment.

Quoting Ivan’s testimony, Agus said the mastermind of the attack specifically ordered Ivan to blow up the St. Yosep Catholic Church and not its congregants.

Investigators in North Sumatra have yet to receive further details about the theory as Ivan has reportedly been tight-lipped regarding the specific person who allegedly ordered him to carry out the attack.

Many people who know Ivan have expressed shock that he would commit such an act.

Marisda Sipayung, the vice principal of the suspects former senior high school, said Ivan was known as a pious student who never missed his daily prayers.

“Every time he heard the call to prayer, he would ask for permission to pray,” Marisda recalled.

Ivan is not the first Indonesian to be inspired by IS’ radical ideology.

Earlier this month, the police arrested five terror suspects in Batam, Riau, over a plot to launch a rocket strike on Singapore’s Marina Bay.

The police said the five suspects had been in contact with IS via Facebook to discuss the plan. A study conducted by the Jakarta-based human rights watchdog Setara Institute recently concluded that intolerance was growing among Indonesia’s youth. The study found that 38.4 per cent of high school students in Jakarta and Bandung, West Java, showed a high degree of religious intolerance.

According to the study, 2.4 per cent of students in that group actively adopted radical ideas while 0.3 per cent could easily turn to terrorism. Setara Institute deputy chairman Bonar Tigor Naipospos said such radical tendencies were partly due to the students’ interaction with the internet.

“Having said that, the government needs to watch social media accounts, especially those used to promote radicalism and hate speech,” Bonar said.

Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara said earlier that the government’s task force on counterterrorism was working to simplify procedures to block radical content on the internet that carried radical messages. -- Haeril Halim, Ina Parlina contributed to the report.

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