Detachment 88 was formed after the 2002 Bali bombings and became operational in 2003. The name of the organization is a result of a senior Indonesian police official mishearing "ATA" in a briefing on the US Department of State's Anti-Terrorist Assistance program as "88". He thought it would be a good name as the number 8 is a lucky number in Asia and other officials lacked the courage to correct him. However, according to Brig. Gen. Pranowo, the Indonesian Police Headquarter Anti-Terror Director, the number '88' is taken from the number of Australian fatalities in the 2002 Bali bombing, the largest number from a single country. Detachment 88 has disrupted the activities of Central Java-based Islamist movement Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and many of its top operatives have been arrested or killed. Abu Dujana, suspected leader of JI's military wing and its possible emir, was apprehended on June 9, 2007. Azahari Husin was shot and killed in 2005. The Indonesian terrorist organization suffered a further blow when arguably its last surviving and at-large prominent figure, Noordin Mohammad Top was killed in a shootout against Detachment 88 on September 17, 2009 at Solo, Central Java.
Detachment 88 is assisted by foreign agencies, including the Australian Federal Police, in forensic sciences including DNA analysis, and communications monitoring. In pre-emptive strikes in Java, the unit thwarted attack plans to material assembly.