Combating Terrorism in Indonesia

Combating Terrorism in Indonesia

The threat of terrorism in Indonesia is a result of global and domestic pressures. Global pressure is influenced by global conflict of political ideas induced by military strategy of the United States to secure their political economy agenda through the issue of “Rebalancing Asia Pacific” as well as creating internal dynamics

in the form of religion radicalism in Indonesia, including the escalation of terrorism due to the existence of Indonesian ISIS supporters, the militant groups or networks of former terrorism detainees.  Also, some information suggested that there are strong inflow of money that is allegedly used to fund the “jihad” transferred from Turkey, Australia and some Middle East countries. In addition, there are also surge of illegal migrants coming into NKRI.

Based on the records of Global Affairs Foreign Terrorist Fighter, Indonesia is one of countries that supply personnel to ISIS, in which until January 2016, there have been 300 people. Meanwhile, the countries with most citizens joining the ISIS are Tunisia (6000 people), Saudi Arabia (2275 people), Jordan (2,000), Russia (1,700 people), France (1550 people), Turkey (1400 people), and Morocco (1200 people). Based on the data owned by the Indonesian government gathered from various resources, there are approximately 500 Indonesians.

A little about ISIS

Islamic State in Iraq & Syam (ISIS) or Islamic State (IS) is also known as ISIL, and Daulah Islamiyah (Daesh). ISIS is a Sunni militant group that has vowed to eradicate the Shiite from Sham (Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon). Sunni-Shiite conflict issues are also potentially exploited in Indonesia, due to the presence of the Shiites in a number of areas, especially Java in which Shiite / Shia issues are usually raised together with thagut government issues that is considered protecting the development of Shia in Indonesia.

ISIS / IS spreads the ideology of terrorism with radical doctrines and orders militant jihadists from around the world to not hesitate to destroy, kill, plunder and exploit their “bloody victories”. ISIS’ strategy of agitation and propaganda (Agi Pro) even shows their sadistic persecutions and executions and publishes them virally to all over the World, through various media networks. ISIS argues that those sadistic acts aim to “shake” the hearts of enemies and all those can be justified by the Sharia.

The brutality of IS / ISIS is opposed by the Mujahidin / Jihadists, especially from Jabha Nusra group and other Mujahidin who help Syrian opposition groups and clung to the testament of Sheikh Osama bin Laden regarding “jihad amaliyah”.

IS / ISIS’ armed expansion to destroy the Shiite regime in Syria, in fact, also expanded globally. They justify their actions by claiming: “fighting for Sharia and Islamic Caliphate”. They do these in various strategic areas, including Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia.

Terrorism Handling

President Jokowi, on 14 September 2014, issued instructions related to the measures of preventing the spread of the ideology of ISIS. The instructions include: doubling the effort to prevent Indonesians from joining ISIS in Iraq and Syria, improving the monitoring of Indonesians that are returning or about to return to Indonesia, tightening the monitoring towards foreigners in Indonesia, improving security system in the areas that become the traditional basis of the terrorists, using soft power approach that involves some prominent figures and religious leaders, and executing firmly those who involve in terrorism activities.

So far, from the news, public might asses that there is no synergy amongst the stakeholders that handle terrorism. There seems some indications suggesting “contestation of authority” in handling terrorism between TNI and Polri. Polri seems to want to claim that terrorism issues are its domain because they are related to domestic security. On the other hand, TNI assesses that terrorism is a threat in state level, thus the role of TNI in handling terrorism must be expanded. On the other side, the revision of Anti-Terrorism act is discussed very slowly by the House of Representative (DPR), including the controversy regarding the increase of BIN’s authority in the revision.

This bad discourse of handling terrorism will support the radical groups to preserve their existence. On the other side, it also triggers questions from public regarding the state capacity to protect Indonesian people.

However, the policy to prevent terrorism requires a synergy amongst institutions to move together to ward radical ideology targeting all level in society by conducting counter radicalization and increasing the vigilance as well as resistance towards radical thoughts.

Mass media and terrorism

Counter-terrorism measures cannot be separated from the involvement of the mass media as one of the most important elements because somehow the mass media as a “third party” is contested by terrorists on the one hand, to urge people to follow their radical ideology, and the government on the other hand, with its efforts to counteract the spread of the ideology of terrorists.

Strategic position of the media in combating terrorism is put forward by Paul Wilkinson in his book “Terrorism and Counter Terrorism in the Contemporary World”. He suggested that the influence of mass media basically has an important role in determining the public’s knowledge and changing the perception or changing the wrong into right. In addition, journalists must always be aware that they are on a mission to convey information that aims to educate the public.

Furthermore, Paul Wilkinson said that for the terrorists, the presence of the mass media is considered very important in the context of propaganda, so that the action by terrorists can be recorded and published by the mass media.

Therefore, conditioning the mass media, be it printed ones or electronic and on-line needs to be intensified, including approaching the bloggers and netizens in the world of social media. Number of social media users is growing rapidly in Indonesia, so that they pose vulnerability to be targeted by radical groups for campaigning their wrong ideology through the mass media.

*) Toas H, terrorism observer in Galesong Institute, Jakarta. Residing in Depok, West Java.

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