News / Asia

Analysts Warn Indonesian Police Crackdown May Fuel Extremism

Members of Indonesian police anti-terror unit Special Detachment 88 move into positions as they prepare for a raid in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia, September 26, 2012.
Members of Indonesian police anti-terror unit Special Detachment 88 move into positions as they prepare for a raid in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia, September 26, 2012.
Sara Schonhardt
Local terrorism and growing unrest in Indonesia have challenged the government to get a grip on violence. But the use of force by police has fueled anger among some extremists. If the police cannot find a way to reduce their kill rates, the military could take a greater role in securing the country.

Poso, an area in Central Sulawesi once wracked by violence between Muslims and Christians, has become the latest focus of police efforts to root out terrorism in Indonesia.

In recent months battles between security forces and suspected militants there have led to more than a dozen deaths. The conflict has also heightened fears that militants are regrouping in the remote hills that provided shelter to past terrorist movements.

In a briefing to reporters recently, one security analyst said it was very unlikely that militants have the skill or capability to launch a large-scale terror attack like those of years past. But heavy-handed action by police is fueling anger among militants that could resonate more widely, according to Sidney Jones, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group in Jakarta.

“This anger is serious and it could have serious political implications. It also could lead to rationales for giving the military a greater role in handling terrorism,” said Jones.

Jones said criticism of police operations by mainstream Muslim groups could lead to declining political support for Detachment 88, the U.S. and Australian-trained counterterrorism squad formed after the 2002 bombings on the resort island of Bali killed more than 200 people.

Trust in the police force as a whole is already low, and some analysts suspect it is part of the reasoning behind a recent presidential instruction that allows the military to assist the police in dealing with communal conflicts.

Human rights groups have called the instruction, known as an "inpres," unnecessary, and say it could lead to abuse by security forces with a history of human rights violations. Haris Azhar is a coordinator at the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence.

“No matter if there is war or not, the president is saying this is the time for the military. By this inpres the military will take more role and action,” said Azhar.

Unlike the civilian police, Detachment 88 has enjoyed high levels of public support for helping to cripple Jemaah Islamiyah, Southeast Asia’s al-Qaida offshoot responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings.

But an increasing number of deaths of suspected militants at the hands of the police has raised concerns that the force is not doing enough to capture rather than kill them. Last month Detachment 88 killed seven suspected militants in Poso. Azhar says that type of brutality is fueling the extremism police are meant to be fighting.

“Now we have two problems, terrorism and the war on terrorism itself," said Azhar. "It is very clear that the police have a very, very bad performance.”

Anger with the police first took off back in February 2010 following their break-up of a terrorist training camp in the remote hills of Aceh in North Sumatra. The discovery of the camp sparked a nationwide dragnet that led to the arrest, killing or conviction of hundreds of suspected militants.

That sweep touched nearly every jihadi group in Indonesia, says Jones, and made the police enemy number one. She says police need to find a way to reduce their kill rate and conduct more post-operation analysis. If they do not, Jones says, groups that pose little threat now could use the violence to recruit more followers.

“If you already have revenge against the police as your number one motivation, the more deaths you have at police hands is just going to give more motivation to more people to get involved in the movement,” said she said.

Indonesia has successfully prosecuted a number of militants and has executed three of the men accused of engineering the Bali blasts. Terrorism now has become a war between police and extremists.

But those extremists are less disparate than once believed, and they are starting to return fire. Since 2010 the number of police killed in terrorist operations has topped 20.

You May Like

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: AR Sopamena from: Indonesia
February 09, 2013 1:27 AM
This case should be handle by special troop with fully trained personnel because I am agreed with analysis statement that “Now we have two problems, terrorism and the war on terrorism itself," said Azhar. "It is very clear that the police have a very, very bad performance.” I like also that the anti terrorist are collaborated by or train by Australian to combat the subject. Please carry on and don't stop, appreciated your mission.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid