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Indonesia Assures US FBI Head of Crackdown on Terrorists - 2002-03-16

A top Indonesian official Saturday assured the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, that his country will crack down on international terrorists, but wants to do it its own way. Mr. Mueller praised Indonesian law enforcement officials for their anti-terrorism efforts and is looking for greater cooperation in the future.

Security Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says Indonesia remains committed to the worldwide fight against terrorism, but that it would use its own methods.

The minister said Indonesia was employing intelligence and other means in order to track down any terrorist cells operating in the country. So far, he said, none had been found.

Mr. Yudhoyono was speaking to reporters after meeting with Federal Bureau of Investigation chief Robert Mueller, who is on a tour of Southeast Asia. The two met on the Indonesian resort-island of Bali.

Mr. Mueller said in a statement issued at the end of his visit, quote, "we look forward to future joint training cooperative efforts, not only on terrorism, but on trans-national crime."

On Friday, Mr. Mueller said in Singapore, the al-Qaida terrorist network might be seeking to establish itself in Southeast Asia, having lost its bases in Afghanistan.

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population and is made up of some 15-thousand islands spread over hundreds of miles of busy seas. Analysts say Indonesian authorities lack the financial means to effectively patrol all its borders, making it an easy destination for any criminal group to slip into.

In recent weeks, Indonesia has come under fire from its neighbors, which accuse Jakarta of failing to do enough to counter alleged supporters of terrorist groups.

Authorities in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines have arrested dozens of people suspected of being members of an al-Qaida-linked group operating in Southeast Asia called Jemaah Islamiyah. Indonesia questioned an Islamic cleric linked to the group but no arrests have been made.