Tag: the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT)

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.

 

 

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Indonesia’s Densus 88 under spotlight after series of wrong arrests and casualties

Siyono’s wife Suratmi probably did the best thing she could when she asked for help from Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s second largest Islamic organization, to figure out why her husband died in the custody of the Indonesian police’s counter-terrorism squad Densus 88 last month.

Along with her effort to seek for the truth through Muhammadiyah, she also handed over a bag which she said was given by Densus 88 after her husband’ death. Muhammadiyah in a press conference said the paper bag was loaded with Rp100 million (US$7,606) as a “token of sorry” to Siyono’s family.

The 34-year-old Siyono, was a resident of Dukuh village in Klaten, Central Java. He was arrested on allegations of involvement in terrorism on March 8, died in custody on March 10 and was buried three days later.

According to data from the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), he is the 121st person to have died after being arrested by Densus 88 since the elite police unit for counterterrorism was established on Aug. 26, 2004.

The unit, comprising 400-500 personnel, was established on funds by the US State Department and for some times is given credit for turning the tide in Indonesia’s fight against the terrorist organizations.

The police first told a different story about Siyono, whom they said had stashed a handgun and attacked officers while being taken by Densus 88 to a location in Yogyakarta in early March. A scuffle broke out inside the car and Siyono bumped his head, which led to his death, they said.

But an autopsy by doctors affiliated with Muhammadiyah which was conducted at the request of Siyono’s wife revealed he died from blunt trauma to the chest, which broke bones near his heart. The autopsy also found no defensive wounds on his body.

After these revelations, the national Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Anton Charliyan on April 5 told reporters the counterterrorism unit had committed several “procedural mistakes” and that this would be investigated.

The House of Representatives plans to summon the chiefs of the National Police and the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) to explain a series of deaths involving Densus 88 and terror suspects in recent years.

“The questions are whether Siyono was indeed a terrorist who warranted arrest, and whether he died because he resisted,” said Desmond Mahesa, deputy chairman of House Commission III, which oversees human rights issues, as quoted by local media.

“We plan to meet on Wednesday with the BNPT and next week with the National Police,” the Gerindra Party lawmaker said during a hearing with representatives from Komnas HAM and Muhammadiyah.

The January 14 bombings and shootings in downtown Jakarta shows that terrorism remains a threat to Indonesia’s security despite ongoing counterterrorism measures.

It has now come into the spotlight because of intensifying fears that Indonesians who have slipped out of the country to the Middle East to join the Islamic State, known as ISIS, would be coming home to wreak domestic mayhem.

January attacks in central Jakarta, which took eight lives including four of the attackers, were said to have been organized and funded by Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian computer expert believed to be in Syria. 

The police estimate, some 500 Indonesians are in the Middle East. Some 200 – mostly women and children – have been caught in Turkey and sent back to be kept under surveillance.

However, unnecessary abuses during current counterterrorism operations have highlighted the need for clearer operating procedures for the police. Alleged violations in the arrest and detention of Siyono have heightened concerns that human rights will be compromised from these counterterrorism measures is something real and must be prevented.

The government’s plan to revise the 2003 Terrorism Law has drawn concern and criticism, primarily on its potential for rights abuses. In the law’s draft revision, security institutions have wider authority to take measures against suspected terrorist.

There is also a growing concern on the rise of military involvement in the counter-terrorism effort which has been “politically given” to the police to handle.

The decision to give full authority to the police to handle terrorism instead of the military was originally to avoid civilian casualties during its process. However, too many wrong arrests and erased terror suspects has raised concerns over how the police have been handling the issue.

At the moment, around 2,000 military and police personnel are searching for the militant leader Santoso, who has publicly pledged loyalty to ISIS. He is considered the most wanted terrorist in the country, and his fighters have been on the run for more than three years in the jungles of Central Sulawesi.

The recent involvement of the Indonesian military (TNI) on the chase was after the police realized that they lacked the capability in jungle warfare to be able to do the task. Police chief Badrodin Haiti originally requested that the army raiders and Special Forces train the mobile brigade in jungle warfare.

According to a recent report from Institute for Policy analysis of Conflict (IPAC) the request was passed to the TNI chief, General Gatot, who apparently agreed but then had second thoughts – perhaps not wanting to be accused of militarizing the police and probably not wanting to weaken the case for military engagement in internal security.

The TNI then responded by sending a 60-person special forces (Kopassus) team and a 40-person combat intelligence platoon from the army strategic reserve of command (Kostrad).

Counter-terrorism agency monitoring two pilots over alleged support for Islamic State

Indonesia’s counter-terrorism agency said it had been monitoring two pilots for six months over their apparent support for Islamic State. Continue reading “Counter-terrorism agency monitoring two pilots over alleged support for Islamic State”

Indonesian official: Hate speech should be controlled

Hate speech should be controlled to protect religious harmony and national unity, a top police officer said.

“Freedom of speech is not absolute. It should respect the views of others and should not jeopardize national security as well as public order,” Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian, who once served as operational chief of the National Counter terrorism Agency (BNPT) was quoted by the Kompas daily as saying.

Hate speech is not a crime under Indonesian law and this has posed a challenge to government efforts to stem the tide of radicalism.

Former BNPT chief Ansyaad Mbai has made a similar case in the past.

He said hate speech permeated sermons even in places such as mosques attached to government offices. He has urged Indonesian lawmakers to amend the terrorism law to include provisions on hate speech.

In March, the Indonesian government decided to block 22 websites over concerns about the spread of alleged Islamic State (IS) propaganda online.

The move quickly backfired, with free speech proponents and Muslims groups saying it was a hark back to the authoritarian rule of the late President Suharto.

The government argued that under the 2008 Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE) Law they can suspend specific websites with” negative content”, though it does not specify the procedure.

Indonesia has seen five major terrorist attacks in the past 15 years, including the first Bali bombing in 2002, which killed more than 200 people, most of whom were foreign tourists.

The country has not suffered a major attack since the bombing of the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in 2009.