Anti-terrorism role for Indonesian army

Anti-terrorism role for Indonesian army
The Australian, 19 October 2010


INDONESIA'S military will be "activated" to support police fighting terrorism, says the chief of the government's new National Counter-Terrorism Agency.

"The military will assist when situations are beyond police capacity," Ansyaad Mbai said yesterday, confirming an important shift from the post-1999 policy of removing the army from direct involvement in fighting terrorism.

"That is a universal principle," he said outside a seminar launching the agency, BNPT. "In Britain, there is military involvement; in America, I don't have to tell you; and in Australia, they also have special forces for counter-terrorism. We also have them, but all this time they have been passive - now we want to activate them. Co-operation with TNI (the armed forces) is in the form of training, intelligence-sharing and also co-operation with other government bodies, like immigration, and international agencies."

The policy change is controversial with civil society groups, given the Suharto-era army's brutal methods against secession movements in Aceh, East Timor and Papua, and particularly the activities of the Kopassus special forces.

An exercise in Bali last month between Kopassus and the Special Air Service Regiment served as an opportunity for the Indonesian regiment's commander to press for a role in terror suppression and to signal Australian authorities' comfort with that.

Australia removed its ban on military co-operation and joint training with Kopassus in 2005 and the US has recently initiated steps to resume co-operation.

Lifting the embargo on direct military involvement accompanies BNPT's formation on the order of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to co-ordinate counter-terrorism activities across police and military security services and government agencies.

Mr Ansyaad, a former two-star police general, insisted police anti-terrorist squad Special Detachment 88 would stay as the frontline unit. His and the government's determination that police remain in charge is signalled by the pending transfer of Detachment 88 chief Tito Karnavian to BNPT as deputy director.

Commander Tito pointedly told the seminar that 75 per cent of counter-terrorist activity in Indonesia was "shaped" by intelligence operations, 20 per cent by crime scene investigation and only 5 per cent by tactical operations.

He claimed Indonesia's law enforcement-led strategy since the 2002 Bali bombings was one of the most successful in the world, with 563 arrests and prosecutions and at least nine terror strikes pre-empted.

However, he said, attacks and thwarted operations in 2009-10 showed terrorist networks had altered strategies and priorities and reconnected with international support.

"The networks are able to survive - not only to survive but revive and launch well-planned new attacks," Mr Tito said.


Indonesia Calls for Vigilance in Terrorism Fight

Agence-France Presse, 19 October 2010

Indonesia on Monday called for greater vigilance and cooperation in the fight against terror, as counter-terrorism chiefs from around the world met in Bali.

Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto told delegates from 22 countries that Indonesia had struck a significant blow against Southeast Asian terror networks in recent years but there was no room for complacency.

"Although a number of terrorists have been killed, captured and punished, some by way of execution, the entire terrorist network has not been uncovered," he said at the start of the International Seminar on Counter-Terrorism, organized by Indonesia's new National Anti-Terror Agency (BNPT).

"The terror groups are still actively recruiting, training and making efforts to carry out attacks."

Militants with links to global networks including Al-Qaeda have struck mainly Muslim Indonesia repeatedly since 2000, notably the 2002 bombings on the resort island of Bali, which killed 202 people, mostly Western tourists.

Senior counter-terrorism chiefs from Australia, France, Germany, India, Japan, Pakistan and the United States among others are attending the three-day meeting, according to Indonesian officials.

They are expected to discuss ways to improve cooperation and coordination of counter-terrorism efforts across international borders.

"Terrorism is not a problem of one country but an international problem which requires synergy and cooperation between various countries. No country can deal with it alone," Indonesian foreign ministry security official Febrian Ruddyard said.

BNPT director Ansyaad Mbai said countries had to be more "proactive" in combating extremist ideologies that lead to terrorism.

"We can't be reactive and wait for bombings and armed attacks to take place. We must be more proactive. The best prevention is through neutralizing the radical ideologies that trigger terror acts," he said.

Scores of suspected militants have been killed or captured in Indonesia since the last major attack -- twin suicide blasts on US-owned luxury hotels in central Jakarta that killed seven people last year.

Three men convicted of organizing the 2002 Bali bombings were executed by firing squad in 2008.

Another Indonesian militant, Hambali, is in Guantanamo Bay for allegedly plotting the Bali suicide bombings on behalf of regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah.