Islamic Militants Confess to Beheading Three Girls in Indonesia

Monday, May 15, 2006

Five of seven suspects arrested last week; they also are tied to murders of other Christians.

by Sarah Page

DUBLIN (Compass Direct) -- Police in Indonesia announced Wednesday (May 10) that suspected Islamic terrorists have confessed to beheading three Indonesian schoolgirls in Poso, on the island of Sulawesi, in October 2005.

Five of the suspected terrorists were arrested on May 5 in Tolitoli regency, Central Sulawesi. The Jakarta Post identified them as Apriyantono, alias Irwan; Arman, alias Haris; Asrudin, Nano and Abdul Muis (some Indonesians use only a single name).

“Two of the arrested men were involved in the murders,” national police spokesman Brig. Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam told reporters. “Another was detained for carrying ammunition, while the other two were arrested as accessories to the crimes.”

Two additional suspects have not yet been publicly identified.

An Associated Press (AP) report initially said two of the seven suspects were associates of Noordin Top, a key leader of the homegrown terrorist group, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Alam, however, has since insisted that, “it’s certain they weren’t involved with Noordin.”

Alam said the suspects would be taken to national police headquarters in Jakarta for further interrogation.

AP reported on Wednesday (May 10) that all seven men had confessed to playing a role in the beheadings of the three Christian teenagers on October 29, 2005.

The men attacked four girls – Theresia Morangke, 15, Alfita Poliwo, 17, Yarni Sambue, 15, and Noviana Malewa, 15 – early in the morning as they walked to a Christian school in Poso district. The first three girls were beheaded; Malewa received serious injuries to her face and neck but survived the attack.

Malewa later described the attackers as six men wearing black shirts and masks, and said one of the men carried a two-way radio.

The girls’ heads were wrapped in black plastic bags; one was left on the steps of a church in nearby Kasiguncu village, and the other two near a police station five miles from Poso town. The bags contained a note stating in part, “We will murder 100 more Christian teenagers and their heads will be presented as presents.”

The men are also suspects in other violent attacks on Christians, including the murder of the Rev. Susianty Tinulele, 26, who was shot at the Effatah Church in Palu, Central Sulawesi, on July 18, 2004 by a gunman who entered the church wearing a mask. Four teenagers sitting outside the church were also injured in the attack.

A Series of Brutal Attacks

Two more schoolgirls – Siti Nuraini and her friend Ivon Maganti, both 17 – were shot in the face on November 8. Nuraini died from her wounds but Maganti survived the attack.

Machete-wielding assailants also attacked three young people, killing one of them, on November 18; and a Christian couple were shot and seriously wounded on November 19.

A bombing in the predominantly Christian village of Tentena in May 2005 left 22 dead and at least 74 injured.

Another bomb exploded on New Year’s Eve (December 31, 2005) at a predominantly Christian area market in Palu, Central Sulawesi, killing eight people and injuring 56.

Over 1,000 people were killed in bloody sectarian clashes between Muslims and Christians in Central Sulawesi between 2000 and 2001. The Malino Declaration (also known as Malino I), signed in December 2001, stemmed the worst violence, but sporadic bombings and attacks, mostly targeting the Christian community, have continued.

Police suspect JI involvement; several terrorist training camps exist in the jungles of Sulawesi, and at least one ex-trainee has admitted being trained to attack Christians.

Copyright 2006 Compass Direct