Tag: Terrorism

Woman detonates explosives in stand-off with police in North Sumatra

A woman believed to be the wife of an Islamic militant detonated an explosive device during a raid on her house in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province on Wednesday, killing herself and her child, police said.

Police had surrounded the house in the town of Sibolga on Tuesday after they arrested a man believed to be the woman’s husband, identified as Husain alias Abu Hamzah, national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said.

An explosion believed to have been set off by the woman injured a policeman as officers tried to enter the house on Tuesday, he said. 

A second blast went off in the early hours of Wednesday, Prasetyo said.

“The information we received is that both the woman and the child died,” Prasetyo said. 

“We have not been able to enter the house because we suspect there are still explosives that could endanger our officers,” he added. 

National police chief Tito Karnavian told reporters that Husain was believed to be a member of a militant network affiliated with the Islamic State extremist group.  

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.

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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

‘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”

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”

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.

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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.

 

 

 

Muslim-majority Kazakhstan, Indonesia scored differently on social hostilities involving religion

Despite being predominantly Muslim countries, Indonesia and Kazakhstan scored differently on religious hostilities by private individuals, organizations or groups in society, according the Pew Research Center’s latest annual study on global restrictions on religion.

The study, released on June 23, 2016, showed there was a decline in the share of countries with high or very high social hostilities involving religion, which dropped from 27% to 23%.

Pew’s Social Hostilities Index measures act of religious hostility, which includes religion-related armed conflict or terrorism, mob or sectarian violence, harassment over attire for religious reasons or other religion-related intimidation or abuse.

Out of the 198 countries included in the study, Kazakhstan were among countries scored low on social hostilities involving religion at 0.0 to 1.4 points while Indonesia were among those scored high at 3.6 to 7.1 points as of the end of 2014.

According to Kazakhstan statistics agency, the country’s population was 17,280 million by July 2013 and according to a 2009 census, roughly 70% people in the country acknowledged Islam as their religion, followed by 26% Christian, while about 205 million or 88% of Indonesia’s population is Muslim and both countries’ Muslims adhere to Sunni Islam.

The low scores on social hostilities involving religion in Kazakhstan and Indonesia corresponded to another study by Pew in 2012 that asked Muslims in both countries whether suicide bombings and other forms of civilian targets are justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies. In Kazakhstan, 93% said such attacks are never justified and 81% in Indonesia responded the same.

But 46% in Indonesia and 28% in Kazakhstan said they were very concerned about extremists religious groups in the country, while 53% in Indonesia and 46% in Kazakhstan said they were mostly concerned about Muslim extremists group.

Both countries have also experienced deadly attacks by militants this year. In Indonesia, four civilians were killed in the bomb and gun attack by suspected Islamist militants in Central Jakarta on 14 January.

Six people were killed at a national guard base and firearms stores in Aktobe on 5 June and Kazakh government said the attack was carried out by “followers of radical, non-traditional religious movements”, using the term normally refers to Islamist militants in the country, according to a Reuters report.

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev’ said in a statement posted in Kazakhstan embassy to Indonesia’s Facebook page on 8 June in light of the attack that his government would “take the most stringent measures to suppress extremists and terrorists” and urged his people to be vigilant, stop all incitement to violent and illegal acts and help the law enforcement agencies.

“Extremism and terrorism have threatened the security of not only our country, but also of the whole world. The people of Kazakhstan fully understood the necessity of strengthening the anti-terrorism measures that were taken by the law enforcement agencies across the country following the attacks,” the president said.

The attack came just after the country hosted an international conference on religions against terrorism in its capital city Astana on 31 May, with representatives from religious groups and parliamentarians from around the world in attendance.

Indonesian politicians from United Development Party (PPP) who are members of House of Representatives and People’s Consultative Assembly, M. Arwani Thomafi and Mukhlisin were among the participants.

During the conference, Thomafi said the Indonesian delegation conveyed that Indonesia is no exception in facing terrorism, extremis and radicalism as global threats and its parliament is in the process of revising its counterterrorism law in a bid to make it more effective in preventing and combating terrorism.

“Indonesia called on the participants to promote and encourage a more moderate religious understanding and a more humanistic religious messages in order to create a peaceful world,” Thomafi told The Parrot.

The conference participants issued a joint statement and took into account about “the growing importance and role of inter-religious dialogue, international cooperation, political and inter-parliamentary diplomacy in ensuring the spiritual and legal foundations of global peace and security, strengthening the unity and effectiveness of universal human principles as well as common religious values and rights.”

They urged the international community to join efforts to counter terrorism and underline the need to continue the constructive dialogue among parliamentarians and religious leaders and to support President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev’s “The World. The 21st Century” manifesto.

President Nazarbayev proposed this manifesto last year during his address at the United Nations General Assembly. It aims to establish a global anti-terrorist coalition under the auspices of the UN and to adopt a UN comprehensive document on countering terrorism, in accordance with the provisions of the Global Counter-Terrorist Strategy and the UN Security Council resolutions.

PPP lawmaker Thomafi welcomed the proposal, saying that it was also expressed in the participants’ statement that called on the international community to unite in combating terrorism.

The statement also said that the participants expressed their “shared determination to fight ceaselessly against those who create, finance and arm terrorist organizations for their own interests.”

In light of fight against terrorism funding and joint efforts to combat terrorism, Indonesia and Kazakhstan have signed memorandums of understanding to cooperate on counter terrorism and exchange of information on money laundering and terrorism funding during President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s state visit to Kazakhstan in September 2013.

Listyowati, director of South and Central Asian Affairs at the Foreign Ministry said among the five Central Asian states in Former Soviet Union, Kazakhstan has the strongest commitment for bilateral cooperation with Indonesia, which was marked by President Nazarbayev’s state visit to Indonesia in April 2012. President Yudhoyono reciprocated the visit in September 2013.

“It was the first visit of an Indonesian president to a post-Soviet state since President Suharto visited all five post-Soviet, Central Asian states in the 1990’s,” Listyowati told The Parrot.

Thomafi said the conference demonstrated that global political and religious leaders now had more concerted efforts in preventing facing terrorism, extremis and radicalism.

He also said he could conclude from the congress both Kazakhstan’s executive and legislative branches have a strong commitment in combating terrorism.

“It is evident in Kazakhstan being able to convince international figures of its efforts, not just being an initiator but also as a global pioneer, in combating terrorism,” Thomafi said.

Given its regional leadership and geopolitical situation that borders China and closely neighbors with Afghanistan, Listyowati said the country has a role to play in maintaining regional stability, which would impact on Indonesia.

“We also take into account the role of Kazakhstan and other Central Asian states to voice the interests of Muslims countries to the world,” Listyowati said.

 

 

Indonesia needs to move beyond security measures to fight terrorism

By Noor Huda Ismail*

Indonesian police have named a convicted terrorist, Afif Sunakim, as one of five perpetrators of Islamic State-linked bombings and shootings in Jakarta that killed eight people, including four attackers, last month.

Indonesia is considering amending its counter-terrorism laws to respond to the phenomenon of returned foreign fighters from Syria.

But fighting terrorism purely through security measures will not be enough. Indonesia should devise policies to rehabilitate and monitor former convicted terrorists to prevent recidivism. The government should also work with civil society to counter the spread of extremism online.

Preventing recidivism by ex-terror convicts

The Indonesian police have arrested more than 1200 people on terrorism charges, according to data from the counter-terrorism unit. Some convicted terrorists seemed to become more radical behind bars. At least 40 convicted terrorists have re-offended after release.

Afif Sunakim was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to seven years in jail for his role in a militant training camp in Aceh. In prison, he became the masseuse for Aman Abdurrahman, one of Indonesia’s most influential jihadi ideologues and a vocal promoter of Islamic State (IS).

My series of interviews with terrorist recidivists suggests that the majority of them believe that jihad is a religious obligation. In a purely linguistic sense, the word “jihad” means struggling or striving. It can refer to the internal as well as external struggle to be a good Muslim. However, for terrorists, jihad means to fight against Indonesia’s secular regime.

There is a common understanding among jihadists that if they are imprisoned, they are simply taking leave. Upon release, they will be ready to rejoin the movement. With this kind of belief, no matter the situation former terrorist inmates face, there is a big chance they will return to their terrorist groups and carry out further attacks.

A prominent terrorist, convicted in 2004, is an example of such recidivism. He was released in 2008. He was then involved in weapons training in Aceh in 2010. In his opinion, as long as what he believes in is right, he will have no other option than to act, whether inside or outside prison. He said: A committed mujahideen will not be limited by any condition or situation beyond himself.

Additionally, there is a desire among convicted terrorists to experiment or retry what they failed to achieve. A convicted terrorist now on the run after a prison break in Medan was involved in the Lippo Bank robbery in Medan in 2003 and again in the CIMB Niaga Bank robbery in 2010. He said: If jihad acts fail, it is most likely that improved jihad acts will be tried again later.

The choice for a released convicted terrorist is stark. Do I return to the pathway of jihad or do I re-enter society to follow a normal life? If he lives in a difficult social and economic situation, with a lack of education and a family that does not support him, it is most likely that a former terrorist inmate will return to the jihadist community, where he will be protected and cared for.

A 2013 report by the Institute of Policy Analysis of Conflict showed that Indonesia’s judicial system has insufficient funds, infrastructure and resources to handle the successful rehabilitation of former terrorists. This lack of post-detention care leaves terrorist inmates at risk of returning to violence, because they are not being properly assessed. They do not receive sufficient re-programming to prepare them to return to mainstream society.

Indonesia needs to set up special placement, supervision, development and rehabilitation programs for former terrorists. The government must train corrections officers to actively engage with former inmates, to support them in finding a new calling in life and to mentor them while doing so.

Countering radical narratives online

The second challenge is to stop IS spreading extremism over the internet.

IS propaganda has created a hype and fad among Muslim youths around the world about a fantasy idea that violent armed struggle against non-Muslims and Muslims identified as “enemies of Islam” is a “jihad” that requires urgent participation.

IS has also created a false hope and a perception that the perfect government system based on the purest Islamic principles has been implemented and is working – but that it still requires Muslims from “impure” Muslim and non-Muslim lands.

Until now the Indonesian government – let alone civil society – has made no systematic effort to challenge the arguments of jihadists on social media. The jhadists are cleverly targeting individuals at risk, mainly young people. These at-risk people tend to spend their time online rather than offline and enjoy being “liked” on Facebook.

If extremists have successfully employed social media to spread their message on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, we also need to create a campaign on social media to counter their movement. We can take a closer look at how “creative” extremists use technology to spread their ideology by monitoring their videos and reading their tweets and online posts.

With the help of civil society, the Indonesian government could launch campaigns on social media to challenge the extremist narratives.

Terrorism is rooted in a belief in an extreme ideology. If we want to prevent acts of terror from happening again, we should strive to prevent the young from being won over by extremists’ messages. We should also find a way to change the minds of those convicted of terrorism so they will not return to their old ways.

Noor Huda Ismail is a PhD Candidate in Politics and International Relations, Monash University. This article was first published by theconversation.com