Farouk Arnaz & Ismira Lutfia
Police have confirmed the identity of the suicide bomber who blew himself up and injured 30 others at the Cirebon Police mosque on Friday, and unearthed a disturbing criminal record.
Brig. Gen Bekti Suhartono, head of the National Police’s fingerprint identification system, said DNA and other tests revealed the perpetrator was Muchamad Syarif, 31, a resident of West Java district.
“It was 100 percent him, no doubt,” he said, adding more details would be revealed later.
West Java Police Chief Insp. Gen. Suparni Parto said police believed the perpetrator had not acted on his own, “but I can’t reveal more because the investigation is ongoing.”
He also said Syarif was believed to have been responsible for the murder of an Army officer earlier this month.
“We suspected Syarif of killing the officer in early April since we found his driving license at the crime scene,” he said.
At the time, First Corp. Sutejo, from the Cirebon Military Command, was found dead from multiple stab wounds in Cempaka village, Talun subdistrict. A civilian, identified as Ali, was found injured at the scene.
Andi Mulya, head of the district chapter of the hard-line Movement Against Illegal Sects and Non-Believers (GAPAS), said Syarif frequently took part in the group’s activities and was involved in another crime.
“He was on the police’s wanted list for the Alfamart case,” he said on Sunday.
In that incident, hard-line Islamists staged coordinated raids on three Alfamart convenience stores last September, seizing bottles of alcoholic beverages and destroying them outside the stores.
Mulya said Syarif had also been involved in at least two altercations at the At-Taqwa Mosque, the biggest in Cirebon.
In the first incident, Syarif was reported to have kicked people taking an afternoon nap in the mosque after prayers. In the second, he tore down a banner put up inside the building.
“He was very easily angered,” Mulya said.
A police counterterrorism official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Jakarta Globe that police were now looking into the motive for Friday’s bombing, the first ever at a mosque in the country, and trying to find “who had brainwashed Syarif to be a suicide bomber, since he didn’t have the typical profile of a terrorist.”
The source said police had so far fingered Jemaah Islamiyah, the Southeast Asian terror network affiliated with Al Qaeda, as a possible player behind the attack.
A senior officer with the National Police’s bomb squad, or Gegana, confirmed the suspicion and said the explosive device used in the attack was very similar to one that had detonated outside the Science and Technology Development and Research Institute (Puspitek) in Serpong, South Tangerang, in March.
That device, planted in a water culvert, caused no injuries.
The officer, who declined to be named, said the bomb may have been a detonated as a test.
“Whoever made the bomb was trained or at least influenced by the late Dr. Azahari.”
Azahari Husin was the Malaysian bombmaker behind the 2002 Bali bombing and a known Jemaah Islamiyah member. He was killed in a shootout with police in 2005.