JAKARTA: A couple with links to the so-called Islamic State group went on trial in Indonesia on Thursday for a failed assassination attempt last year on the country’s former chief security minister, with the pair facing a possible death sentence if convicted.

The Jakarta hearing was held by video conference due to coronavirus concerns as lawyers and judges wearing facemasks heard the indictment against 51-year-old Syahril Alamsyah and his wife Fitri Adriana, 21.

The attempted assassination happened in October when Indonesia’s then security minister Wiranto was visiting Pandeglang regency on Java island.

“The two decided that the husband would attack Wiranto while the wife would attack anyone else wearing police or military uniforms,” the indictment said.

Alamsyah allegedly stabbed the now 73-year-old minister as he exited a vehicle before he and his wife were wrestled to the ground by security personnel.

Wiranto survived the attack, but he sustained knife wounds to his abdomen and several others were also injured.

The couple could face life sentences or even the death penalty if convicted under Indonesia’s terrorism laws.

Days before the attack, the pair pledged allegiance to late IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to the indictment.

It also said both were members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an IS-linked extremist group responsible for a string of attacks, including suicide bombings at churches in Indonesia’s second-biggest city Surabaya in 2018 that killed a dozen people.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2020