Witnesses: Loopholes in system helped Patek flee

Khabar Southeast Asia
A former immigration officer who approved Umar Patek’s passport said no red flags came up in his application.
Terror suspect Umar Patek was able to flee Indonesia in 2009 because he went unrecognised by immigration authorities, witnesses testified Monday (April 23rd) before the West Jakarta District Court, citing deficiencies in communication and the fact that he was using an alibi.
“Our travel-ban list system is only in the form of a name list and identification without any photograph,” said former immigration officer Asni Redani Suandi, who interviewed Patek when he applied for travel papers in 2008.
“As long as they meet the entire requirements and they are not listed on the travel-ban name list, any Indonesian citizen could be granted a passport,” she said.
Although a police most-wanted list was placed in her office, Suandi said, she did not recognize Patek – who was going by the name Anis Alawi.
His application was complete and he passed the interview. As a result, her office issued a passport, which he then used to leave the country.
Patek is charged with participating in a succession of terrorist attacks, including the 2002 bombing of two nightclubs in Bali. A total of 202 people died in that incident, for which he faces the death penalty if convicted.
Nine years later, he was captured in Pakistan. Indonesian authorities, whose counterterrorism efforts have largely reined in the Jemaah Islamiyah extremist group, have been struggling to pin down the sequence of events that allowed Patek to make it so far.
Monday’s trial proceedings largely focused on vulnerabilities in the passport system, with judges saying procedures must be tightened and communication improved.
Asni told the court that, according to standard operating procedure, a passport applicant must submit a copy of his or her identity card, family card, and birth or marriage certificate. Once all the required material is provided, he or she will be called in for an interview and asked to bring the original documents for verification.
During the interview stage, applicants are asked several questions, she said. They may be asked to give their name, address and birthday, as well as to state their purpose in applying for a passport.
“If I was not mistaken, the defendant told me that he would use the passport for Umrah [pilgrimage to Mecca],” she told the court.
Muhammad Marsudi Rasyid, who heads the intelligence department at East Jakarta Immigration Office, told the court that the name Anis Alawi did not appear in the travel ban list in connection with terror activities. But the name Umar Patek did appear, he said.
“Our travel-ban list system only takes the form of a name list without photograph. If somebody has a different name, they can just pass through immigration and we cannot verify based on their pictures,” Marsudi told the court.”Even today, the travel-ban list system is only in the form of a name list without photograph.”
According to the panel of judges hearing the case, Monday’s testimony shows the need to improve co-ordination from ward level to immigration level.
In particular, they said, it is crucial to make sure that key documents cannot be falsified any more.
“What would the world say if this kind of thing keeps happening in Indonesia?” judges said as the hearing closed. Proceedings will resume on Thursday.

Mob damages minority sect mosque

Khabar Southeast Asia
Responding to last week’s ransacking of an Ahmadiyah mosque, Indonesian authorities warn that violence will not be tolerated.
Government officials are promising a thorough investigation and legal action after a mob attacked and ransacked a mosque used by the minority Ahmadiyah sect just before Friday prayers (April 20th)
Co-ordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto said West Java police were handling the case and that legal action would be taken against those responsible.
“Violence is not allowed. Whoever did this will be dealt with,” Djoko told reporters outside the State Palace in Jakarta on Friday, according to a Kompas report.
Separately, Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi ordered local police to thoroughly investigate the attack.
At least 80 people broke into the Baitul Rahim Mosque in the Singaparna subdistrict of Tasikmalaya, West Java, about 260 km southeast of Jakarta. They damaged the roof, broke windows, and burned the carpet and prayer mats, police said.
No one was reported injured in the attack, which took place around 10 am on Friday and lasted 20 minutes.
Firdaus Mubarik, an Indonesia Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) spokesman, told Khabar Southeast Asia, that the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) carried out the attack.
“This is actually not the first attack that happened to Ahmadiyah Mosque in Singaparna because they also did it on April 12th,” Firdaus said.”The attack began when they handed a letter of objection regarding use of the mosque,” he said.
Although Muslim-majority Indonesia is a secular country where freedom of religion is protected under the constitution, some religious minorities in recent years have been targeted by hardline Islamist groups.
Such groups say the Ahmadiyah sect, which follows the teachings of a 19th century religious figure from India, should be banned. Regional governments have placed restrictions on the sect, and the central government in 2008 issued a decree restricting Ahmadis from spreading their beliefs.
A spokesman for the West Java Police, Senior Commander Martinus Sitompul, denied allegations by the JAI that the local authorities failed to step in.
“It is not true we let it happen without any prevention,” he told Khabar. “As a notification [of plans to deliver the letter] had been given to us, we deployed our officers to prevent any violence that might occur. But during the handing of the letter, [the] Ahmadis said something which was provocative and we tried to prevent the violence which occurred,” he said.
Awid Mashuri, deputy secretary general of the FPI, denied the group’s involvement amid reports some mob members were carrying FPI flags or dressed in the group’s trademark white and green.
“It was Singaparna neighbouring residents that attacked the Ahmadiyah mosque. It is because the Ahmadiyah congregation has broken the agreement for not holding any activities anymore in their mosque,” he told Khabar.
“If there were FPI accessories worn by any of the mob, it does not mean that they are FPI members because they might just buy accessories from the shop,” he said.
If FPI involvement is proven, the group could be banned, because it has already been warned twice over use of violence, Home Minister Gamawan said.
“Another [incident of] big-scale violence by the FPI would meant that the organisation is eligible to be frozen,” The Jakarta Post quoted him as saying.

Lawmaker: Police must do more to protect religious minority groups

Khabar Southeast Asia
Indonesian police ask minority groups to “give up” to avoid conflict, rather than protecting their rights, legislator charges
The National Police force has not sufficiently improved its ability to protect religious minority groups, experts agreed at a recent Jakarta panel discussion.
Although Muslim-majority Indonesia is a secular country where freedom of religion is protected under the constitution, some religious minorities in recent years have come under attack by hard-line Muslim groups.
Reform measures tend to focus on expanding the central police administration rather than strengthening the capacity of local forces to handle violence against minority groups like Ahmadiyah and GKI Yasmin, said Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of House of Representatives (DPR) and its legislative committee overseeing legal affairs.
In handling such violence, police often emphasise preserving social order over protecting the minority groups, Eva told a meeting at the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club on March 28th.
“Instead of providing protection, police often asked the minority group to give up, to prevent a physical conflict,” she said. “They argue that they cannot guarantee [a] radical group will not come back to attack again, as they cannot mobilise and provide protection all the time.
“However, as a law enforcement agent, police must focus on providing a protection of human rights [rather] than accommodating a social order.” The Islamic minority sect Ahmadiyah has been a target of deadly attacks in Indonesia, and members of a small Christian parish in Bogor, GKI Yasmin, have been prevented from worshipping in their church.
Congregants celebrated Easter in secret this year, and did not notify police of the location, since police presence did not stop dozens of hard-liners from the Reform Movement (Garis) and the Muslim Communications Forum (Forkami) from disrupting their Christmas services, GKI Yasmin spokesman Bona Sigalingging recently told The Jakarta Post.
“The police were there, but they did not do much to help us. Ever since, we have found no point in telling the police about our activities,” Bona said.
Eva said she was frustrated that her colleagues in the House of Representatives often view violence against minority groups as a local matter rather than a law enforcement issue.
“However, it is a must for the police to change their policy and strategy to improve the community police,” she said.
Responding to the criticisms, National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar said police are committed to enforcing Indonesian laws and to pursue anyone who violates them.
Indonesians have the right to form mass organisations, he pointed out, also noting that police investigated Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leaders in 2008.
Known for raiding bars, clubs and gaming halls during Ramadan, the FPI reached a new level of visibility in January when its members threw rocks at the Home Affairs Ministry to protest its decision to annul local laws banning alcohol sales.
“Even nowadays, we are still communicating with FPI leaders to guide them to not violate the law anymore,” Boy said, adding that “the FPI are no longer conducting sweeps in night clubs.”
He said the police had to work to educate segments of the population who remain unaware of some aspects of the law and human rights within the still-developing country.
Johnson Panjaitan of Indonesian Police Watch urged national police to train local forces in handling religious conflict, especially in regions where the potential for such conflict is high.
Police intelligence must be strengthened to prevent religious conflict in the first place, he said.
Beyond that, the police are hobbled by a lack of action from the government, in his view.
“Sadly enough the state is actually not brave enough to disband a hardline group such as FPI,” he said.
“Therefore it needs to be understood that this is not only a police problem but the government’s problem as well. And we need to support the Indonesia National Police,” he added.
Research conducted by Jakarta’s Paramadina University and Gadjah Mada University shows that police were present only 25% of the time in 718 violent incidents between 1990 to 2008.
In 1999, shortly after the end of the Suharto regime, new laws formally separated the Indonesian National Police from the military, which had controlled the force for decades.

Witnesses detail impact of Bali bombings

Khabar Southeast Asia
The attacks that killed 202 also dealt a massive blow to the region’s economy, Balinese officials said Thursday.
Testifying Thursday (April 12th) in the trial of accused Bali bomber Umar Patek, Balinese officials spoke of the impact the 2002 attacks had on the island’s tourism industry, while a forensic doctor recalled the horrific aftermath.
“At the very beginning, we could not identify the victims because many of them were damaged and could not be recognised anymore,” said the doctor, Ida Bagus Putu of Denspasar’s Sanglah Hospital.
“After three months of identification processes, we could identify 199 out of 202 people.”
The bodies had burns as well as wounds showing that objects had penetrated them at high speed, he said.
“Other than that, we also received 325 body parts from the victims, but we could not identify 140 body parts because they had become rotten,” he told the court.
Doctors were able to distinguish 78 women and 117 men among the victims, but others could not be identified by gender, the doctor testified.
The twin bombings on the night of October 12th, 2002 – one carried out by a suicide bomber wearing an explosives-laden vest, the other a massive car bomb detonated outside a crowded nightclub – are considered Indonesia’s worst-ever terror attack. According to Balinese officials who spoke during Thursday’s trial proceedings, they also increased poverty on the island by disrupting a vital sector in its economy.
“Compared to the hotel occupancy in October and November 2001 and 2002, the number dropped significantly [after the bombings]. The bomb attack was really an impoverishment process for Bali,” testified I Gusti Ngurah Oka Darmawan, the former head of the tourism department in Badung.
Eighty percent of district revenues come from the hotel and tourism industries, which also have an economic impact on surrounding localities, he said.
“It took us two years for recovery,” he added.
Ngurah Mas Wijaya Kusuma, an immigration officer from Ngurah Rai Airport, told the court that the bombings had significantly affected the number of tourists coming from abroad.
“According to our data, the number of foreign tourist dropped 70% compared to 2001. Before the attack, the number of foreign tourists stood at around 100,000 to 159,000 visiting Bali every month,” he said.
As of September 2002, the number stood at 153,000. But the figure dropped to 81,063 in October and 31,477 the following month, Ngurah said.
Patek, the defendant in Thursday’s proceedings, is the last Bali bombing suspect to go on trial and faces the death penalty if found guilty. His trial began in February and is expected to last four months.
The main actors in the bombings – Mukhlas, Amrozi and Imam Samudra – were convicted and executed in 2008.
Prosecutors on Thursday called to the stand two men convicted for their supporting roles in the attack, hoping to shed more light on how much Patek knew about the plot. He has acknowledged mixing the bombs but insists he was in the dark concerning the actual plans for their use.
One of the men, Sarjiyo, confirmed that he and Patek attended a military training camp in Pakistan, where they studied war strategy, bomb making, and mapping.
In September 2002, as Sarjiyo was busy mixing 700kg of explosive materials, he requested Patek’s help, the witness said.
Patek’s role in the bomb preparation was minimal and limited to the final stages, he explained.
“When Patek arrived, I was about to finish mixing the material and there were 50kg of explosive material left over. So I asked him to help me to finish it because I knew that Patek has similar knowledge,” Sarjiyo said.
The trial proceedings will resume on Monday