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Indonesia Village Chiefs Get Anti-Terror Training

FILE - Members of the Indonesian Security Force evacuate a "VIP" during an anti-terror drill at Jakarta Convention Center.

Indonesia's Anti-terrorism Management Agency [BNPT] is conducting a three-day training for 70 village chiefs in and around the city of Solo to activate an effective early detection system.

The BNPT director of terrorism prevention, Police General Antam Novambar, said the ability of villages to monitor those who may have joined Islamic State is too weak.

"We plan to revive the system of reporting newcomers to the area within 24 hours. Neighbors, villagers and borough chiefs have been ignorant about the activities or identities of members of terrorist groups that were arrested in their areas," said Novambar.

Experiential lesson

Village Chief Agus Triyono said his area was where authorities killed suspected terrorist kingpin Noordin M.Top, an al-Qaida member accused of several bombings in Indonesia.

"Indeed, Mojosongo area in Solo has a dark experience on terrorism, but we’re using the experience as a lesson," said Triyono. "We are now working hand in hand with other village chiefs and neighborhood watches and the police force to monitor local activities lest the horrible terrorist acts of years ago happen again. We are always on the alert."

Yuyuk, village chief of Laweyan, whose area once was decorated with IS logos, said early detection is critical to anticipate acts of terror.

"As a frontline of the lowest level of government, village chief has to know everything about community activities. We are planning to share the results of the training to the community, especially to the neighborhood watch in our area. We have to able to detect terrorist acts as early as possible," said Yuyuk.

Early detection

Solo became a focus of government attention recently after IS murals were found painted on walls in the city, while pictures and Islamic State flags were being distributed.

But General Antam said anti-terrorism training will cover village chiefs across Indonesia.

On Tuesday, Indonesia said it estimates more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with the Islamic State, an increase of 50 since last month.

Said Aqil Siradj, the leader of Nahdatul Ulama, the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia, said he has urged the government to monitor the IS fighters closely when they return home.

Indonesia has said it is planning to revoke the citizenships of those who have joined Islamic State. Jakarta banned IS in August and moved against known members. Officials have said the radical group contradicts Indonesia’s pluralist state ideology, which is called Pancasila.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Indonesian Service.