Outlawed Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) is among dozens of radical groups that have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group in Indonesia, which has long struggled with Islamist militancy.
By stabbing Wiranto, Indonesia's mighty chief security minister, JAD came back to the limelight after a lull. The suspects, 31-year-old Syahril Alamsyah and Fitri Andriana, 21, a married couple, are hardcore activists of JAD, according to local media. An eyewitness told an AFP reporter that the female attacker was dressed in a body-and-face-covering niqab. "When the car stopped, there were people circling around, protecting him. But a man got into the circle and stabbed Wiranto. The woman also tried to stab him. He was arrested and the woman fought the police," he said.
Budi Gunawan, the head of Indonesia's top intelligence agency BIN, confirmed the suspects - Syahril Alamsyah, also known as Abu Rara, and his 21-year-old wife Fitri Andriana were members of JAD, a homegrown Indonesian armed group linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS). Budi also informed media that JAD members, including the suspects in Wiranto's attack, had been on law enforcement radar for at least three months.
The assassination attempt comes just over a week before Indonesia’s President Widodo kicks off a second term as leader of the Southeast Asian archipelago of some 260 million people, the world's biggest Muslim majority nation.
Investigators are still trying to figure out how the two suspected members of the outlawed JAD evaded security and carried out the stabbing attack.
The name of JAD was first noticed after a wave of serial bombing in 2018. JAD staged a wave of suicide bombings by families -- including young children -- at churches in Surabaya, killing 23 congregants. Many past attacks of this militant organization had been against police and other state symbols. In July 2018, an Indonesian court ordered JAD to be disbanded. Its leader, Aman Abdurrahman, was also sentenced to death for "masterminding" from his jail cell the 2016 attack in the Indonesian capital.
Authorities routinely arrest suspected JAD militants for planning bomb attacks. "JAD members are targeting what they call Ansharut Thagut (tyranny) and that includes senior government officials," said Muhammad Syauqillah, program director of the University of Indonesia's Terrorism Study Centre.
Wiranto, the retired chief of the armed forces and a failed presidential candidate, was appointed as chief security minister of Indonesia in 2016. He has faced controversy over alleged human rights violations and allegations of crimes against humanity linked to Indonesia's brutal occupation of East Timor.
In May, police said Wiranto and three other top officials were targeted in a failed assassination plot linked to deadly riots in Jakarta after Widodo's re-election victory. A group of six people -- arrested before they could carry out the killings -- planned to murder the officials and an election pollster in a bid to plunge the country into chaos, police said at the time.
But the stabbing of Wiranto on Thursday suggests members are still proving they "have the enthusiasm" to carry out attacks, even though the ISIL has lost territory.