Ten Islamic extremists have gone on trial in Indonesia for allegedly attempting to bomb Christ Cathedral Church just outside the nation's capital of Jakarta earlier this year.
Prosecutor Teguh Suhendro said Thursday that the 10 individuals, including TV journalist Imam Firdaus, who allegedly planned to film the destruction, are all in their 30s and are being charged for trying to destroy the church and harm those inside before this past Easter holiday, The Associated Press reports.
The men, who are each being tried separately in the West Jakarta District Court, allegedly placed 150 kg (3330 pounds) of explosives in bags near the Catholic church's entrance and under a nearby gas pipeline. They had planned to remotely detonate the devices using a mobile phone as Good Friday services began in the 3,000-seat church, but officials recovered them before they could be set off.
Prosecutors say the accused also sent mail bombs to some of the nation's more moderate Muslims and police, though none of these incidents resulted in any fatalities.
Christians make up only about 10 percent of Indonesia's 235 million person population, as compared to 85 percent of those who consider themselves Muslim. Although the nation's government does allow the free practice of religion, extremists have attempted multiple attacks on Christian churches just in this year alone.
In September, extremists made headlines by setting off explosives following a worship service at Bethel Full Gospel Church in Solo City, injuring 28 people. After the service had ended, suicide bomber Pino Damayanto, who also went by the name Achmad Yosepa Hayat, detonated a device inside the building while congregants were exiting the church.
A national police spokesperson said he was a member of the terrorist group, Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid.
Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California, identified the Indonesian congregation as a “sister church” in a Facebook post shortly after the attacks, prompting many Christians to offer their prayers in support of those impacted by the incident.
Binsar Simangunsong, whose Facebook page identifies him as a resident of Cikarang in the province of Jawa Barat in Indonesia, wrote a message of thanks under Warren's post to all who offered to pray for the church and the people of his country.
“Thank you for all your prayer, we know this kind of threat is never ending in my country,” he wrote. “We believe, Faith is getting stronger in persecution.... Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2Tim3:12). The good news is, Great harvest will come, very soon. God bless you guys!”
In addition to attacking Christians, Islamic militants in Indonesia are also intolerant of moderate Muslims and the nation's secular government, and many of them hope to turn the country into an Islamic state.