A terror plot in Indonesia was thwarted after the would-be terrorist posted photos and other incriminating evidence about his plans. Sefa Riano, 29, was arrested in Jakarta on May 3, but the terror plot and its Facebook connection was only just revealed to the Associated Press.
Riano’s Facebook alias was Mambo Wahab, and his profile featured a group of camouflaged individuals posing as well as incendiary posts. In the AP exclusive, an anonymous officer states that Riano publicized his views on Facebook but another radical Facebook page served as a gateway for the alleged terrorist.
On Riano’s page, AP quotes the man as saying in one post, “God willing, I will take action at the Myanmar Embassy, hope you will share responsibility for my struggle.” Another post, dated April 14, features a tutorial video to make a phone detonator with the message “Please take this lesson :).” In a photo that was posted, Riano shows a group of camouflaged individuals with one man carrying a rifle, while another photo was of the slogan “The Spirit of Jihad.” Riano’s Facebook activity ended on May 1.
According to AP’s police source, Riano and an unidentified individual were arrested in central Jakarta, just after midnight on May 3. Riano was arrested carrying a backpack that contained five pipe bombs that were tied together. In addition to Riano’s incriminating Facebook posts, the official said that terrorist groups have turned to social media to aid in their recruitment of youths in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, AP notes.
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While Facebook pages promoting terrorism may be quickly removed by police, it’s a difficult process to actually stop those messages from spreading on social media as groups can quickly, and easily, repopulate Facebook with new pages. Despite Facebook’s fast response, police said that groups can quickly post a new Facebook page.
Muhammad Taufiqurrohman, from the Center for Radicalism and De-radicalization Studies who also works with anti-terrorist officials, said to AP that he believes 50 to 100 new recruits may have come directly from Facebook. Taufiqurrohman said that one radical Facebook page on the social media site has more than 7,000 members.
Other aspects of social media, Skype or video chats or YouTube have recently been used by terrorist groups. Prior social media usage by terrorist groups, such as al Qaeda, has been done in secret, but AP notes that that policy seems to be changing.
Police were tipped off to Raino’s Facebook activity, and the officers were then able to track Raino’s IP address, which led to his cell phone, AP reports. From there, Indonesian police were able to listen in on conversations between Raino and the individual behind the plot to bomb the embassy.