Indonesian Military to Study Up Against Terror

Indonesian Military to Study Up Against Terror

, 22 November 2010


By: Farouk Arnaz


Counterterrorism is the responsibility of the National

Police’s Densus 88 anti-terrorism unit, although there

have been calls for the military to become involved.

Semarang. The National Police’s anti-terrorism school will open its doors next year to soldiers in line with a new grand strategy to deal with extremists.

“Police are still the leading actors in combating terrorists but other institutions should also be involved as stipulated in the constitution and laws,” Brig. Gen. Boy Salamuddin, executive director of the Jakarta Center for Law Enforcement Cooperation based in Semarang, Central Java, said on Saturday.

“If the military’s ability in the fight against terror is not maximally used then we will stand to lose.”

Boy, who was the Bali Police’s chief detective in 2002 when suicide bomb attacks targeting nightclubs there left 202 people dead, said the military, especially the Army, had comprehensive capacity to deal with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.

“In 2011 we will open a class on the subject of Crisis Response Management in cases of terrorism and we will invite Army officials to join,” Boy said, declining to give further details.

Counterterrorism investigations and raids are the domain of the National Police’s Densus 88 anti-terrorism unit, although there have been calls for the military to play an expanded role.

In a move to make the country’s anti-terror fight more coordinated and efficient, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in July issued a decree forming the National Anti-Terrorism Agency (BNPT), and in September appointed Ansyaad Mbai, the head of the antiterrorism desk at the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, to lead the new body.

The agency, which answers only to the president, is charged with preventing terrorism, protecting civilians, deradicalizing terrorists and building national preparedness.

Ansyaad in October said cooperation with the military in fighting terrorism was “a new development” in response to the changing tactics of terrorists, who are shifting from suicide bombings to armed assaults as seen in Mumbai in 2008.

He said it would also send a strong message to terrorists that they were facing not the police but the state as a whole.

Ansyaad also said the BNPT would not shy away from requesting support from the Army.

Critics have warned of the dangers of involving the Armed Forces. The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) said the inclusion of the military could lead to abuses.

Brian Thomson, executive program director for the JCLEC, said he could not comment on Indonesian policy decisions.

“Terror is a crime and police are handling and investigating crimes by providing evidence,” he said, adding that Australia was fully committed to supporting the JCLEC in its efforts.

The JCLEC is housed within the National Police Academy in Semarang. It was jointly established by Indonesia and Australia in February 2004 with Canberra contributing 36.8 million Australian dollars ($36.27 million) for development and operations, its Web site said.

The center aims to help the entire Southeast Asian region fight transnational crime, with a special focus on counterterrorism.