A female would-be suicide bomber arrested last week one day before her planned attack in Indonesia's capital said she took orders from Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian with the Islamic State group in Syria accused of orchestrating several attacks in the past year.
Dian Yulia Novi and her husband Nur Solihin were among four suspected militants arrested Saturday after police detected their plot to bomb a guard-changing ceremony at the presidential palace. A neighborhood on the outskirts of Jakarta was evacuated after a bomb was found.
Police suspect the four were part of a militant network responsible for a bomb-making lab in West Java province that was operating under the direction of Naim.
Novi, a former migrant worker in Singapore and Taiwan, said in a TVOne interview broadcast Wednesday that she learned about jihad on social media such as Facebook. She said she was influenced by articles from an Islamic website on upholding monotheism and defending the caliphate and Aman Abdurrahman, a radical cleric serving a nine-year prison sentence in Indonesia.
The active involvement of a woman in the plot is a new development for violent radicalism in socially conservative Indonesia, where women married to or associated with militants have typically stayed in the background.
The 3-kilogram bomb that Novi was to detonate would have exploded as crowds of people gathered to watch the presidential guard changing ceremony, a popular family attraction in Jakarta. In the interview, she revealed a chilling disregard for her fellow Indonesians.
"The target is not ordinary people, not hawkers, not babies. The target is the enforcers of man-made laws," Novi said.
Naim "himself has explained that there are spectators," she said. "I would mingle with them ... then I would run toward the presidential guard and explode myself. That will be far from the spectators so they would not be hit directly."
Naim has been linked by police to several attacks in Indonesia this year including a January attack in Jakarta that killed eight people including the attackers.
Muslim-majority Indonesia has carried out a sustained crackdown on militants since the 2002 bombings on the tourist island of Bali by al-Qaida-affiliated radicals that killed 202 people. But a new threat has emerged in the past several years from IS sympathizers. Several hundred Indonesians have traveled to Syria to join IS.
Novi said she communicated with Naim on three occasions through the encrypted chat app Telegram and said it was he who decided the target of the attack.
Her husband, Solihin, also interviewed by the TV station, said he married Novi to facilitate her desire to be a suicide bomber.
Solihin said he was ordered by Naim to drop his wife at Jakarta's Istiqlal Mosque, where she would walk for about 500 meters (yards) to the target.
"I did not know what the target was. Only after police revealed the bomb plot, then I realized that the target was the presidential palace," he said.