INDONESIA – Muslim youth injures priest in church during Mass in copycat attack
In what appears to be a copycat attack inspired by the fatal stabbing of Fr Murat in France last month, an Indonesian Muslim youth wielding an axe attacked a priest during a Sunday service in a church in Medan, northern Sumatra. In the early hours of Sunday, the terrorist tried to detonate a crude home-made bomb he had in his backpack as he sat in the pews of the church among believers. When the bomb failed to explode, the youth took an axe out of the same bag and ran toward the priest who was celebrating Holy Mass and was giving a sermon at the time.
The youth’s attempt to injure the priest failed as he was restrained by members of the congregation and held until the police arrived. On seeing the police, two other people who had been hiding fled from the church. The authorities evacuated the church and conducted a controlled explosion of the attacker’s backpack, in case it contained additional explosive material. The priest suffered just a few cuts on his arm but there were no serious casualties in the latest attempted attack.
A senior minister stated that the attacker was “obsessed” with extremist group Islamic State and in particular with al-Baghdadi the leader of the Middle Eastern militant group. Chief Security Minister Wiranto said “From the cellphone that was seized by security forces, this youth was obsessed with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” A note was also found in the attacker’s backpack saying “I love al-Baghdadi” but Wiranto said the suspect had no known links to existing militant networks.
The attacker, who has been identified as 17-year-old Ivan Armadi, is currently under interrogation. After the attack bomb-making materials were seized from Armadi’s home. Police seized said he had learned to make a bomb through online research.
There has been a worrying resurgence in radicalism in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country where the vast majority of Muslims practice a moderate form of Islam. This has been partly driven by a new generation of jihadis inspired by Islamic State (IS). Indonesian authorities are increasingly worried as counter-terrorism officials are aware that there are hundreds of IS sympathisers in the country. Indonesia suffered its first IS-linked attack last January, when four people died in a gun and bomb assault.