Indonesia’s key terrorism concerns
Since the 2002 terrorist bombing in Bali by Jemaah Islamiah (JI), Indonesia has done much to counter the threat of violent terrorism by Islamist militants.
Densus 88, the elite police counter-terrorism unit, has been at the forefront in neutralising JI — killing or capturing most of its members.
As of last month, more than 820 terrorists have been captured and 80 killed. Yet, this has not terminated the threat nor deterred them. While no major attacks have taken place since 2009, more than 110 militants were captured following the discovery of a major terrorist training camp in Aceh in 2010.
Indonesia’s inability to halt the threat was evident in the series of attacks last year, following which 11 terrorists were killed and 17 captured, with 28 members of the police force killed. Poso in Sulawesi and Solo in Central Java are the main theatres of terrorist operations. In the first week of this year, seven terrorists were killed and 10 captured.
Complicating the picture is the emergence of new and splintered groups sworn to avenge the killing of their comrades, besides stopping perceived Christianisation of the country and aiming to build an Islamic state.
Behind the veil of democracy, radical preachers continue to spread their ideology of hate and murder. The terrorists’ targets have shifted from attacking the “far enemy” (the West), to the “near enemy”, that is locals, especially the police.
Many of the new terrorists are youngsters, indicating their recruitment for the cause.
There is also the rise of “soft violence”, where radical adherents oppose mainstream political, economic, social-cultural and religious practices, and develop cells of like-minded hardliners bent on wreaking havoc on society when instructed to do so.
Why does the terrorism landscape not exude much optimism this year? There are seven areas of concern for the year ahead.