Category: Security

Government to move Abu Bakar Bashir to a Central Java prison

The Indonesian government will move ailing radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir to a prison near his hometown in Solo, Central Java for humanitarian reason.

“[The decision] is final. We’ll just need to move him to Central Java,” chief security minister Wiranto told journalists on Wednesday.


On Tuesday, Wiranto said the government has made the decision by taking into account the firebrand cleric’s old age and poor health without compromising the legal and security aspects. He also said that Bashir will have access to medical treatment and if necessary, the government will take him to the hospital “using a helicopter”.

Bashir will be moved from his isolation cell in Gunung Sindur prison in Bogor, West Java to a prison near Klaten in Central Java where  he can be close to his family.

Earlier in the week, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights said Bashir is ineligible for house arrest. It was one of the options the government said it was considering as leniency to the ailing cleric.

“House arrest is only available for a defendant who is standing trial, while Bashir is no longer a defendant. He is a prisoner, convicted to serve time in prison,” Ade Kusmanto, a spokesman for the ministry’s Directorate General of Correction said.

Last week, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu told journalists at the state palace that house arrest for the cleric is very likely, as the government is weighing up which form of clemency it could give to Bashir. The cleric suffers from pooling of blood on his legs, a condition which requires him to undergo regular medical check-ups.

On Mar. 1, Bashir was taken to a hospital in Jakarta for treatment which his lawyer, Achmad Michdan, said had been scheduled for Nov. 2017. He is scheduled for another check up on Thursday.

President Joko Widodo said the government gave permission for Bashir to go to the hospital on humanitarian grounds.

Kusmanto said the cleric can ask the president for clemency, given that he is in poor health and will become an octogenarian this year. Another possibility is to demand parole, for which he will be eligible in June 2019 when he will have served two-thirds of his 15-year prison sentence.

Michdan said his client rules out both the options since applying for either one would mean that Bashir pleads guilty to the charges against him.

Bashir was convicted in 2011 for supporting paramilitary training in Aceh, and the firebrand cleric is described as the ideological icon of Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), including those who carried out bomb attacks in Bali in 2003.

“Bashir believes he is innocent because he was merely observing his faith as a Muslim. He was collecting money to fund training and travel for those who wanted to go as mujahideen to Palestine. He wasn’t rebelling against the country,” Michdan said.

Michdan said that it should be possible for the government to “relocate the place” where Bashir serves his sentence from Gunung Sindur prison to his house in Solo, Central Java.

He cited examples of jailed former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is serving his two-year sentence for blasphemy at a special police detention instead of a correctional facility, and East Timor resistance fighter Xanana Gusmao who had been imprisoned in Jakarta when he was fighting for East Timor’s independence from Indonesia. He was then confined to a house in Central Jakarta in 1999.

Terrorism analyst Adhe Bakti said even though house arrest is not regulated in the Criminal Procedures Code, Gusmao’s case was laden with political context at that time when East Timor was going for a referendum in which they voted for independence from Indonesia on Aug. 30, 1999.

“But the government could make a breakthrough by giving Bashir leniency to serve the rest of his sentence on house isolation based on humanitarian grounds. At least it would project a positive image of the government before the Islamists,” Bakti said.

Bakti warned that isolation remains necessary given Bashir’s revered position among militants.

“Even though he is no longer affiliated with ISIS, he still very much identified with radical teaching,” Bakti said.

This story has been updated from its original version in Arab News

Terror expert: direct link between IS and Indonesian militants is ‘self-proclaimed’

There are no direct links between Indonesian militants and the leadership of IS in Syria, an Indonesian terrorism expert said on Tuesday.

Taufik Andrie, executive director of the Institute for International Peace Building in Jakarta, was speaking during a meeting about changes in the global terrorism network and the impact those changes have had on extremism in Indonesia.

Policemen were on guard around the police post damaged in bomb attacks by IS-affiliated militants in downtown Jakarta on 14 January, 2016. Photo: The Parrot/Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata

He said that attacks by self-proclaimed IS-affiliated militants in Indonesia “were not always related to IS, or even to Bahrun Naim or Aman Abdurrahman,” referencing an Indonesian militant believed to be fighting for IS in Syria and a convicted radical cleric who led an IS-affiliated network from his prison cell.

“There has never been a direct link between IS in Syria with those who claimed to be affiliated with the group here,” Andrie said. “Most of those so-called acknowledgements were self-proclaimed.

“If we follow the money trail, there has been little financial support coming in from Syria to Indonesia for terrorism activities,” he said.

However, Andrie said that remnants of the Southeast Asian militant network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) — outlawed in Indonesia since 2008 — still remain, with a clear organizational structure and key figures implementing their strategies.

Nasir Abbas, a former militant who is now known as a de-radicalization activist, said the group now operates anonymously, but still works toward the same goals using a mixture of preaching and violence.

“They are still on the move, but they don’t put a name on their organization. They use a strategy, unlike other militants who think that they are waging war by being lone wolves,” said Abbas, adding that other militant groups were now emulating JI by putting a solid structure in place.

“They would try to settle in a small region and strengthen their base, preaching to the locals about their intention to establish a caliphate and making the locals believe in their propaganda,” he explained.

Abbas said the conflict-torn southern Philippines remains the go-to destination for Southeast Asian militants returning to the region after joining IS in the Middle East. He claimed they pass through the porous sea and land borders from Indonesia’s North Kalimantan province to Malaysia’s Sabah state before entering the Philippines in Basilan.

“It’s the preferred trail because there is a chain of small islands in the Sulu Sea and there are a lot of separatist groups there, which means there is an abundant supply of guns and ammunition,” he said.

Nava Nuraniyah, an analyst at the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) in Jakarta, said there has been little change in the role of women in extremist groups, particularly in Indonesian and Filipino organizations.

“Very few of them have become combatants. When they do, the reason is usually self-empowerment,” she said.

“But most of them play the role of financier, treasurer and recruiter. They manage the money because they are housewives who are also entrepreneurs,” she explained.

This article first appeared in Arab News

‘We are not afraid’, Indonesians say after suicide attack kills 3

Indonesians on Thursday took to social media to declare “We are not afraid” after a double suicide attack killed three policemen and wounded 10 other people.

Two suicide attackers also died when they detonated bombs at the busy Kampung Melayu bus terminal in eastern Jakarta late Wednesday, police said.

At least 10 people were injured, including five police officers.

“#wearenotafraid Let’s fight ISIS and other radical groups in Indonesia. Don’t give them space!” Yusuf Muhammad wrote on Twitter, referring to the Islamic State group.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but police spokesman Martinus Sitompul said investigators were focusing on a network linked to Islamic State.

“We suspect that the perpetrators were part of the ISIS network,” he told CNN Indonesia, adding that it bore the hallmarks of previous attacks by local Islamic State-linked militants, including the use of pressure cooker bombs.

Police said investigators had recovered a receipt for the cooker purchase from the body of one of the attackers.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo condemned the attack and offered condolences to the victims.

“I have ordered the police chief to root out the networks of the perpetrators,” Joko said. “This is outrageous.”

Officers were guarding a parade to mark the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which starts on Saturday, when the attack occurred near a bus shelter.

Police have frequently been targeted by attackers in Indonesia following a crackdown on Islamic militants in the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people.

Wednesday’s attack was the second to hit the Indonesian capital in less than two years.

In January 2016, a gun and bomb attack in Jakarta’s business district killed eight people, including four attackers.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, has been hit by a spate of terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds of people since 2000.

Double suicide attack kills 3 policemen in Jakarta

Three policemen were killed Wednesday night when two suicide attackers detonated bombs at a busy bus station in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, police said.

“With deep sadness we announce that three officers are deceased,” national police spokesman Setyo Wasisto said.

Two attackers were also dead and 10 people were injured, including five officers, Wasisto added.

Photos circulating on social media showed the strewn body parts of one of the suspected attackers.

Officers were guarding a parade to mark the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which starts on Saturday, when the attack occurred near a bus shelter at the Kampung Melayu terminal in eastern Jakarta, police said.

Police have been frequent targets of attacks in Indonesia following a crackdown on Islamic militants in the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people.

Wednesday’s attack was the second to hit the Indonesian capital in less than two years.

In January 2016, a gun and bomb attack in Jakarta’s business district killed eight people, including four attackers.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, has been hit by a spate of terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds of people since 2000.

Failed Indonesian suicide bomber who attacked priest not lone wolf

A failed suicide bomber who attempted to attack a priest during a Sunday church service in Medan, the capital of Indonesia’s North Sumatra province, confessed that he was not working alone, police said.

“The perpetrator confessed during police interrogation that someone else had ordered him to carry out the attack,” North Sumatra police spokeswoman Senior Commissioner Rina Sari Ginting said.

The assailant tried to stab Father Albert Pandiangan with an axe when the priest was standing at the pulpit, but the 60-year-old priest of Saint Joseph Catholic Church only received a minor stab wound on his left arm, the spokeswoman said.

A picture of the assailant’s identity card provided by the police identified him as 18-year-old Ivan Armadi Hasugian. Ginting said the police were searching Hasugian’s house to search for any explosive materials.

Based on an account by a member of the congregation, Nana Manullang, the perpetrator was sitting among worshippers when he prepared something that resembled a makeshift bomb, Ginting said.

Manullang, who was sitting next to Hasugian during the service, told the police she saw batteries and pipes in the teenager’s backpack. He then stood up and his backpack produced fumes, a low explosive sound and sparks.

But it didn’t stop the perpetrator to run towards the priest and attack him.

“The pastor managed to escape as the congregation restrained [the attacker],” Ginting said, adding that none of the congregation members were hurt.

Police vacated the church and secured the surrounding area to search for more evidence.

They also confiscated Hasugian’s backpack, which contained a knife, a homemade bomb and an item that displayed a logo resembling the flag of the Islamic State, but the police did not provide details whether the motive for the attack was linked to the terrorist group.

Medan church attack2

Results of a survey conducted by the Wahid Foundation in cooperation with the Indonesia Survey Institute (LSI) revealed that of 1,520 respondents across Indonesia’s 34 provinces, 72 percent of them admitted of not being radical or unwilling to be radical, while 7.7 percent admitted to willing to be radical and 0.4 percent admitted to have been involved in radical actions.

The survey, which was released on August 1, defined potential for being radicalized as participation or willingness to participate in actions that involved violence in the name of religion, namely demonstrating against groups deemed against Islamic values or launching attacks to other religions’ houses of worship.

Abu Bakar Ba’asyir’s lawyer mulls second case review, having lost the first

Jailed cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir’s defence team is considering lodging a second case review request with the Supreme Court.

One of Ba’asyir’s lawyers, Achmad Michdan said there was a change in the composition of panel of judges who reviewed  the case.

“The judges who handed down the ruling are different to those who were appointed to preside the hearings when we lodged the appeal. We weren’t notified that there was a change,” Michdan said.

“This is peculiar and we are going to question this. For us, this is a legal problem,” he said.

Supreme Court spokesman Suhadi said the court rejected Ba’asyir’s appeal against his 2011 conviction for funding militant training in Aceh.

“The court handed down the verdict on July 27. It was rejected because it didn’t meet the requirements for an appeal, such as presenting new evidence,” Suhadi said.

Suhadi confirmed that there was a change in the panel of judges. The three justices initally appointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Hatta Ali were Artidjo Alkostar, Suhadi, and Sri Murwahyuni with Artidjo as the chair.

“When Artidjo realised it was Ba’asyir’s case, he resigned from the panel on grounds that he has served as a judge in Ba’asyir’s previous case,” Suhadi said.

Artidjo was one of the justices that presided Ba’asyir’s appeal in 2004 after South Jakarta District Court sentenced him to 30 months in prison for his involvement in the 2002 Bali and August 2003 JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta bomb attacks.

The five-justice panel overturned Ba’asyir’s conviction in 2006 and declared he was not involved in both attacks.

Both Michdan and Ba’asyir’s son, Abdurrahim Ba’asyir, declined to comment further on the rejection, saying that they have not received the official copy of the ruling.

Abdurrahim, who is the youngest of the Ba’asyir’s three children, said he believed that the five witnesses testified in his father’s appeal hearings were credible.

“We still don’t know why the appeal was rejected. We want to know why. We believed, God’s willing, the argument in the appeal was solid and we presented credible witnesses,” he said.

One of the five witnesses who testified in court with Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Habib Rizieq Shihab and three terrorist convicts incarcerated in Nusakambangan prison island was physician and humanitarian worker Joserizal Jurnalis.

joserizal, who is the founder of humanitarian group Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C), expressed concerns about the Supreme Court rejection, saying that the panel of judges should have taken Ba’asyir’s ill-health and old age into account.

“I really regret the verdict. As his physician, my main concern is his health and old age. He is now 77 years old and by the time he finishes his sentence, Ba’asyir would be 87 years old,” Joserizal told The Parrot.

Ba’asyir was transferred from a Nusakambangan prison to Gunung Sindur prison in West Java on April 16 so that he could receive better medical treatment and where he remains isolated.

He said that Ba’asyir is in good health for a man his age and that he keeps exercising in his isolation cell with sports equipment and static bike that his medical team provided, with the approval of the Justice and Human Rights Ministry.

Ba’asyir’s lawyers argued that the cleric believed the money he donated was to support the establishment of an Indonesian hospital in Palestine, which MER-C constructed and that Ba’asyir was unaware the money he donated was used to fund the extremist training camp in Aceh.

The first hearing took place at the Cilacap District Court in Central Java just two days before the suicide bomb attack in Jakarta on January 14.

Meanwhile, Indonesian police on Friday arrested six suspected Islamist militants, one of whom had allegedly considered launching a rocket at Singapore’s Marina Bay, a spokesman said.

The six were arrested in three separate locations on Batam island, just south of Singapore, national police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said.

The suspects are linked to Bachrun Naim, a wanted Indonesian militant thought to be fighting alongside the Islamic State group in Syria, Amar said.

Among those arrested was Gigih Rahmat Dewa, who according to Amar had plotted together with Naim to launch a rocket from Batam at Singapore’s Marina Bay.

The alleged plan never materialized.

“[Dewa] also helped facilitate trips by Indonesians to Syria via Turkey,” Amar said.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has suffered several deadly attacks blamed on Islamist militants since the early 2000s.