The Possibilities Of Brazen Cohort Terror Attacks Still Strong
The group, through Bahrun, inspired five more attacks in the following months, some of which turned deadly. An attack by a lone wolf inspired by IS angered the nation on Nov. 13 when a bomb exploded at the Oikumene Church in Sengkotek subdistrict, Samarinda, killing a two-year-old toddler, identified as Intan Olivia, and injuring three other toddlers. The police also voided three plots to attack the State Palace, an unspecified location in Bali and a police station in Tangerang, Banten, in December after arresting 21 terrorists in West Java, Central Java, Banten, North Sumatra, West Sumatra and Batam ahead of Christmas.
According to police data, out of 1,200 convicts linked to various terror attacks in the country since the 2002 Bali bombings, 300 are about to be released and will join a deradicalization program. While several former terrorist convicts such as Ali Imron, one of the Bali bombers, have successfully abandoned their radical ideologies, others, like Yayat, are reluctant to follow suit. A former terrorist convict who was indicted together with Yayat, the government’s deradicalization program was too formal. The 2003 Terrorism Law was more about law enforcement than efforts to prevent and preempt terror attacks. The House of Representatives and the government are therefore now amending the law to strengthen the BNPT and incorporate clauses on deradicalization.
The number of Indonesian extremists leaving the country to join the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria has declined, raising fears they will focus on carrying out terrorist attacks on Indonesian soil instead. It was getting more difficult for foreign fighters to enter Syria as fighting among conflicting armed groups has intensified in the war-torn country.
Bahrun Na’im, an Indonesian militant with the IS in Syria, had recently instructed Indonesian supporters of IS group to drop their plans to immigrate to Syria and carry out attacks in their home country, BNPT’s deradicalization director Irfan Idris told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. “Earlier, the traffic of Indonesians going to Syria was very high, but recently, after Bahrun’s instruction was issued, the number decreased because local militants were encouraged to launch domestic attacks by Bahrun,” he said, declining to provide figures.
In addition, the official said the government had stepped up efforts to prevent Indonesians from leaving the country for Syria, including by rejecting passport applications made by Indonesians suspected of wanting to join IS and by intensifying crackdowns on recruiters of Indonesian jihadists facilitating trips to the Middle East.
The police intercepted seven people at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport attempting to fly to Syria on Sept. 28 along with a recruiter identified as Abu Fauzan, who managed to fly dozens of Indonesians to Syria in early 2016. There are currently a total of 500 Indonesian militants fighting with IS in Syria, according to the BNPT. Dozens of Indonesian militants may now reside in Turkey while attempting to enter Syria.
The discovery of eight Indonesian passports in Turkey during a terror raid last week may confirm BNPT’s statements on the existence of Indonesian militants in Turkey.
A spokesperson for the Immigration Directorate General, Agung Sampurno, said his office had asked the Foreign Ministry to collect copies of the eight passports to identify whether or not they were legitimate. “Our intelligence team is working to collect copies of the biographical page of the passports,” Agung said. The immigration office in Batam, one of the favorite transfer points for Indonesian militants on the way to Singapore before flying to Turkey, rejected 418 passport applications last year, mostly submitted by people wanting to go to Syria. The immigration office in Depok, West Java, also rejected 929 similar applications in 2016.
Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) said on Tuesday that Bahrun was now using online payment services, such as Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency that uses cryptography to make transactions anonymous, and PayPal, to transfer money to fund terror attacks in Indonesia. PPATK research division director Ivan Yustiavandana said, adding it was now a new trend that global terrorism activities were funded by money sent through Bitcoin and PayPal. Meanwhile, the National Police said they were aware of the use of Bitcoin and other online-payment services by IS affiliates to send money to Indonesian terror cells.
The revision of deradicalization strategy
Current prison deradicalization programs were far from good. Prisons, nowadays, are more like schools for criminals. A scene from the play Opera Ikan Asin (Salted Fish Opera) shows the wedding of Mekhit, the bandit king of Batavia.
In another sign of the country’s failing deradicalization program, the National Police confirmed on Tuesday that the suspected perpetrator of a terrorist attack at a subdistrict office in Bandung, West Java, on Monday was a former terrorist convict. Yayat Cahdiyat, also known as Abu Salam, was sentenced to three years in prison for robbing a gas station in Cikampek, West Java, to fund a paramilitary training camp in Aceh in 2010. Yayat was arrested and convicted in 2012. He was freed two years later after being granted a number of sentence remissions.
Shortly after his release, Yayat joined the Islamic State-linked Jemaah Ansarud Daulah (JAD) terrorist group, which is believed to be responsible for a number of terrorist attacks and plots in the country in recent years. Yayat’s case reflected the nation’s failure to fully rehabilitate terror convicts.
Meanwhile, more than 400 former members of terrorist groups in Indonesia had not yet been touched by its deradicalization program. Currently, only 184 former terrorists in 17 provinces have attended the deradicalization program. The deradicalization program conducted by the BNPT was one of the agency’s terrorism monitoring activities.
There are two deradicalization programs conducted by the BNPT, in societies and penitentiaries, in which we target terrorism inmates, which amount to 250 people who are currently serving their sentences in 77 prisons. The deradicalization program for former terrorists was not something easy to do, especially when ideologies were deeply rooted in their minds. Deradicalization needs to be provided for terrorist inmates because several terrorism acts that occurred in Indonesia recently had involved them. The challenges had hampered the BNPT’s deradicalization program for terrorism inmates because not all of them were willing to attend the program. One of ways deemed quite effective to approach former terrorists who had been released from prison was through economic support. Not all former terrorism inmates could return to society or have a decent life after release.
The police needed to improve coordination with the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), the Law and Human Rights Ministry and the Social Affairs Ministry to ensure that former terrorist convicts would not repeat their offenses. Societies have to admit that terrorism convicts are stigmatized after they are released from prison.
All related stakeholders, such as the Religious Affairs, Social Affairs and Culture and Education ministries would work under the coordination of the BNPT regarding deradicalization and rehabilitation. Each terrorism convict will take part in different deradicalization programs in the prisons, depending on what led them into terrorism.
*) Kurniadi, a politic and strategy observer. Resides in Tasikmalaya, West Java.