News / Asia

    Indonesian Terrorist Sweeps Raise Concern Over Police Tactics

    Since February, Indonesian security forces have killed 13 terrorist suspects during police raids. Police defend their tactics, saying they act to protect themselves and the public. But human rights groups and security analysts are questions the motives behind what they call "shoot-on-sight" tactics.

    When Indonesia's elite counterterrorism unit, Detachment 88, took out the country's top terrorist suspect several months ago, witnesses say he was sitting in an Internet café on the outskirts of Jakarta.

    Police said the man known as Dulmatin, suspected of masterminding the bomb attacks in Bali in 2002, was armed and dangerous.  According to Indonesian authorities, Dulmatin shot at police and officers then fired several rounds of ammunition before killing him. The United States had placed a $10 million price tag on Dulmatin's head and Indonesian security forces celebrated his killing as a major victory.

    A total of 61 terrorists have been captured and 13 others have been killed since February, when police discovered and raided a hidden training camp in the mountains of Aceh.

    But Noor Huda Ismail, a terrorism analyst with the International Institute for Peacebuilding said such security sweeps against suspected terrorists is part of a troubling pattern.  Noor Huda is calling for an open investigation into the recent shootings, pointing out that witness testimony raises concerns about whether these suspects posed a real threat.

    Police may be purposely targeting some terrorist suspects rather than relying on a legal system that some say is too lenient, said Noor Huda.

    In 2005, Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir - the accused spiritual leader of the regional terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah - received a 30-month sentence after being convicted of conspiracy related to the Bali bombings.  He was released on good behavior after serving 25 months in prison.  Six months later, the Indonesian Supreme Court overturned his conviction based, on witness testimony.

    Police need to uphold the law, Noor Huda said, regardless of their doubts about the legal system, because their current operations fuel the belief that security forces are no different from the terrorists.

    "The police are not in the killing business. I know those guys in the killing business. If we do the same thing we are like them. Noor Huda acknowledges that "they are bad guys. They are terrorists. They might kill us. [And] they kill civilians. But we don't want to behave like them, right?"

    Noor Huda said in the past police have been successful in apprehending more than 500 alleged terrorists since Detachment 88 was formed in 2002, following the suicide bombings in Bali that killed more than 200 people.  The United States, which has provided training and support to the force, also commends it for its ability to prevent possible attacks by dismantling training camps and confiscating explosive materials and weapons.

    Tito Karnavian, head of Detachment 88, dismisses claims that the police are involved in any planned killings of terrorist suspects. Their job, said Tito, is to apprehend alleged terrorists, and it is up to prosecutors and the courts to convict them. Tito disputes criticism that his men are acting with unnecessary force.  

    "The police understand which one is really hardcore, which one is the militants, which one is really sympathizers, which one is supporters … These kind of mechanism observations really shape the sensitivity of our officers in doing raids," said Tito.

    As an example, he points to two back-to-back operations in May. In the first one, police shot dead Maulana, a hardline militant suspected of procuring weapons and cash to be used in a major attack on high-profile leaders in Jakarta.  Tito said police knew Maulana was extremely dangerous and they went in prepared to shoot at the first sign of trouble.

    The next day police stormed a house in central Java, arresting three people and seizing a cache of M-16s, AK-47 and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.  No bullets were fired that day, said Tito, because, thanks to intelligence, the police knew they were dealing with more moderate suspects than Maulana.

    Inspector General Ansyaad Mbai, head of the counter-terrorism desk at the Coordinating Ministry for Legal, Political and Security Affairs, said it is the constitutional responsibility of the government to protect more than 200 million people in Indonesia.  He added because terrorists are committing extraordinary crimes, police need to respond with extraordinary measures.

    Still, Noor Huda and other analysts say security forces must reassure a skeptical public that they are operating under the law when trying to capture terrorists and maintain public security.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora