The alleged attacker of Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto was reportedly under surveillance for months before Thursday’s assault, according to the National Intelligence Agency (BIN).
BIN director Budi Gunawan told the media on Thursday afternoon that the suspect, Syahrial Alamsyah alias Abu Rara, and his wife Fitri Andriana were affiliated with the Islamic State-linked homegrown militant group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD).
“We knew that Abu Rara was from the JAD cell in Kediri [in East Java], and we had detected his move to Bogor [in West Java]; and later, because of his divorce from his first wife, he moved to Menes [in Pandeglang],” Budi told reporters after visiting Wiranto at the Gatot Subroto Army Hospital (RSPAD) in Central Jakarta, where the minister was being treated for stab wounds sustained in the attack. Budi said a JAD member, Abu Syamsuddin, had supported Syahrial in Menes.
When asked how the attack could still happen despite the observation, Budi explained that JAD worked in cells comprising both lone wolves and small groups. “There are so many cells, so we also call on the public to help us monitor the cells,” he said.
In a separate interview also at the RSPAD, Budi alleged that Syahrial was connected to five people arrested in Bekasi last month. Police reportedly confiscated bomb materials from the suspects.
“In particular, we monitored the perpetrator three months ago [as he] moved from Kediri to Bogor and then to Menes,” he reiterated his statement as quoted by . He said Syahrial had also been known to collect bladed weapons.
Former neighbors of the suspect in his hometown of Medan, North Sumatra, said Syahrial had been born and raised in Medan, but in 2017, after he lost his childhood home to a toll road project, his neighbors lost touch with him.
One of the former neighbors, Ismawati, said she was surprised to learn that Syahrial allegedly stabbed Wiranto. “I had no idea he could stab Pak Wiranto. He was a nice man who was always ready to lend a helping hand,” said Ismawati, who was Syahrial’s neighbor on Jl. Alfaka VI. Ismawati said Syahrial had once worked at a potable water refill station in the neighborhood.
About 15 police officers were dispatched to Syahrial’s sister-in-law’s house on Jl. Alfaka V, a road next to Alfaka VI in the Tanjung Mulia Hilir subdistrict of Medan Deli district, hours after Syahrial and his wife Fitri had been arrested for allegedly attacking Wiranto in Pandeglang, Banten.
North Sumatra Police chief Insp. Gen. Agus Andrianto said the search of the sister-in-law’s house was part of the investigation.
Syahrial grew up in his family’s house on Jl. Alfaka VI after his parents had died, according to neighbors. His brother, who reportedly lived on Jl. Alfaka V, had also died a long time ago. Syahrial then lived on Jl. Alfaka VI with his two daughters. His neighbors lost track of Syahrial since the demolition of his house two years ago.
Last month, Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono mentioned the names of Syahrial and Fitri in public after an arrest of nine suspected terrorists in Bekasi, West Java. The nine suspects were under the leadership of Abu Zee Ghurobah, Argo said told reporters on Sept. 23, as quoted by tribunnews.com. Abu Zee’s group was reportedly part of JAD, and he allegedly led the network in Bekasi.
Abu Zee, alias Fazri Pahlawan, was arrested at a rented house on Jl. Trias in Tridaya Sakti village of Tambun Sakti distict, Bekasi regency, West Java, at dawn on Sept. 23.
“[Abu Zee’s] role was that of emir, or leader, of JAD in Bekasi, and he coordinated men who wanted to join in Bekasi,” said Argo. Besides teaching martial arts every Sunday afternoon at the Cluster Paris Residence housing complex in Taman Puri Cendana in Bekasi, he also officiated the weddings of some couples within the group, including the couple of Asep Roni and Sutiah, who were among the nine Bekasi arrestees.
“He also officiated the weddings of other suspected terrorists, like Syarial Alamsyah Abu Rara [sic] with Fitri Adriana [sic] as well as Devi Rusli Warni with Putri and Parjo with Ummu Farida. All of them got married in his rented house,” as quoted by tribunnews.com.
Apriadi Gunawan contributed to this report from Medan, North Sumatra.