A failed suicide bomber who attempted to attack a priest during a Sunday church service in Medan, the capital of Indonesia’s North Sumatra province, confessed that he was not working alone, police said.
“The perpetrator confessed during police interrogation that someone else had ordered him to carry out the attack,” North Sumatra police spokeswoman Senior Commissioner Rina Sari Ginting said.
The assailant tried to stab Father Albert Pandiangan with an axe when the priest was standing at the pulpit, but the 60-year-old priest of Saint Joseph Catholic Church only received a minor stab wound on his left arm, the spokeswoman said.
A picture of the assailant’s identity card provided by the police identified him as 18-year-old Ivan Armadi Hasugian. Ginting said the police were searching Hasugian’s house to search for any explosive materials.
Based on an account by a member of the congregation, Nana Manullang, the perpetrator was sitting among worshippers when he prepared something that resembled a makeshift bomb, Ginting said.
Manullang, who was sitting next to Hasugian during the service, told the police she saw batteries and pipes in the teenager’s backpack. He then stood up and his backpack produced fumes, a low explosive sound and sparks.
But it didn’t stop the perpetrator to run towards the priest and attack him.
“The pastor managed to escape as the congregation restrained [the attacker],” Ginting said, adding that none of the congregation members were hurt.
Police vacated the church and secured the surrounding area to search for more evidence.
They also confiscated Hasugian’s backpack, which contained a knife, a homemade bomb and an item that displayed a logo resembling the flag of the Islamic State, but the police did not provide details whether the motive for the attack was linked to the terrorist group.
Results of a survey conducted by the Wahid Foundation in cooperation with the Indonesia Survey Institute (LSI) revealed that of 1,520 respondents across Indonesia’s 34 provinces, 72 percent of them admitted of not being radical or unwilling to be radical, while 7.7 percent admitted to willing to be radical and 0.4 percent admitted to have been involved in radical actions.
The survey, which was released on August 1, defined potential for being radicalized as participation or willingness to participate in actions that involved violence in the name of religion, namely demonstrating against groups deemed against Islamic values or launching attacks to other religions’ houses of worship.