Category: Terrorism

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.

One killed, nine injured in suspected suicide bombing at Jakarta bus terminal

A policeman was killed and nine other people were injured Wednesday when a suspected suicide attacker detonated a bomb at a busy bus station in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, police said. Continue reading “One killed, nine injured in suspected suicide bombing at Jakarta bus terminal”

Indigenous communities seek greater forest rights

Tanjung Gusta – Indigenous communities in Indonesia on Friday urged President Joko Widodo to grant them greater rights to forest management, saying they are the best protectors of forests.

The call was made at the Archipelago Indigenous Peoples Congress attended by hundreds of representatives from dozens of Indonesia’s indigenous communities at Tanjung Gusta in North Sumatra province.

“We’ll fight for our rights to the last drop of our blood,” said the secretary general of the Archipelago Indigenous Peoples Alliance (AMAN), Abdon Nababan, to the cheers of those attending.

“We’ve been engaging in dialogue with little result, but we still believe Mr Jokowi will make good on his promises, at least for now,” he said, using the president’s popular nickname.

Joko cancelled his scheduled attendance at the congress and instead sent Minister of the Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar.

AMAN says more than 8.2 million hectares of forest belongs to the nation’s myriad indigenous groups, but Joko’s government has so far only granted a total of 13,122 hectares to nine customary communities.

Bakar said the government was in the process of verifying other claims.

“There should be no doubt that the government is taking real action with respect to this important subject,” she said.

“This government is a government that is providing solutions and can be trusted to support the struggle of indigenous peoples.”

Studies to be presented at the World Bank’s 18th Annual Land and Poverty Conference in Washington next week confirm indigenous leaders’ claims that local communities are best-equipped to protect forests around the globe, the indigenous congress’ organizers said.

One study suggests that carbon-rich peatlands that have been ravaged by annual forest fires in Indonesia could be saved if the government gives greater forest rights to local communities.

“The findings suggest that granting communal land rights to indigenous inhabitants of tropical forests is among the most underused and effective solutions to combating violence, poverty and the illegal deforestation that fuels climate change,” they said in a statement.

Mother knows best: group seeks to enlist mothers to fight extremism

Jarmi felt something was amiss when two men she did not know began visiting her son at home in Surabaya, days before he was arrested for possession of explosives and a firearm in July. Continue reading “Mother knows best: group seeks to enlist mothers to fight extremism”