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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs