JAKARTA // Indonesian police announced today they had uncovered and foiled a plot to assassinate the president and other top officials, massacre foreigners in Mumbai-style attacks and declare an Islamic state. The attackers planned to launch their assault during this year's Independence Day ceremony to be attended August 17 by the president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the country's top dignitaries, national police chief Gen Bambang Hendarso Danuri told reporters.
The plot also included taking over hotels and killing foreigners, especially Americans, in violence that would have been reminiscent of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, he said. The plot was revealed during interrogations of dozens of suspects arrested since a February raid on a terrorist training camp in the western province of Aceh, Gen Danuri said. "They were confident that all state officials and dignitaries would be there," Gen Danuri said. "Killing all the state officials would have accelerated the transition from a democracy to a state controlled by Islamic Shariah law."
Some of the newest information on the plot came from a series of raids this week on militant hideouts in and around the capital that yielded 20 arrests as well as a supply of assault rifles, ammunition, telescopes and jihadist literature. Five suspected militants were killed in those raids. Most of those arrested were believed to have trained at the Aceh camp, run by a group called al Qa'eda in Aceh, a new splinter of the South East Asia terror network Jemaah Islamiyah.
"If we had not detected them and their military training had been successful, then they would have assassinated foreigners ... as well as police and military posts in Aceh," Gen Danuri said. "Their plan was also to launch attacks in Jakarta against foreigners - especially Americans - and attack and control hotels within certain communities, imitating what happened in Mumbai," he said. In November 2008, a group of young Pakistanis attacked luxury hotels, a Jewish centre and a busy train station in India's financial capital, claiming the lives of 166 people.
Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, stipulates religious freedom in its constitution. The country has been engaged in a long battle against militant extremist groups. * AP