Cooking Up a Clean New Life

Khabar Southeast Asia

Cooking up a clean new life

Machmudi Hariono (in white), aka Yusuf Adamira, and two Dapoer Bistik employees, pictured at the restaurant in Semarang, Central Java. The enterprise is run by The Institute for International Peacebuilding to provide former terrorists with a place to work. [Elisabeth Oktofani/Khabar]

Restaurant business provides a new life, an income and a sense of purpose to former terrorist 

For three years, Machmudi Hariono, also known as Yusuf Adirima, 36, has been managing a backstreet restaurant in Semarang, Central Java.

It was no easy feat for this convicted terrorist to put violent activity behind him, land a job and focus on building a clean life.

A former member of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) who fought in the Philippines Yusuf, was sentenced to ten years in prison by Semarang District Court in 2004 for possessing and keeping explosive materials, detonators, firearms and ammunitions in a rented house in Semarang.

He spent five and half years in three different prisons, then was paroled for good behaviour.

“When I was in jail, I was thinking, what am I going to do when I am released?” Yusuf told Khabar Southeast Asia at Dapoer Bistik (Steak Kitchen) restaurant, on Jalan Kusumawardhani, Semarang.

“If I want to work as a civil servant, it is not possible because I have been black listed…It would not be easy for me to find a job. It became a problem for me.”

Fortunately, he met Noor Huda Ismail, who gave him not only motivation to start a new life, but also a work opportunity.

Skills first, ideology later

The counter-terrorism expert has devoted much thought to how to wean violent extremists back into civil society. His Institute for International Peacebuilding (Yayasan Prasasti Perdamaian) has a rehabilitation programme that provides skills training and runs businesses – including Dapoer Bistik – where former terrorists can work.

“One of the possibilities that we can do is what I call a social enterprise. Any initiative of peace should be very practical and applicable,” Noor Huda said at a recent panel discussion in Jakarta on terrorism and de-radicalisation in Indonesia.

Civil society efforts are crucial to peace-building and terror prevention, because an approach restricted to law enforcement can feed the problem, he said.

According to data collected by the institute, police have arrested more than 700 terrorists in Indonesia since 2002, weakening militant networks. Meanwhile, 58 terror suspects were killed outright and at least 28 individuals were wrongfully arrested.

“It produced a cycle of vendetta and a narrative that will last for a very long time,” Noor Huda said.

The graduate of Pesantren Al-Mukmin in Ngruki, Solo explained that to disengage militants from violence, one must reach out to them, provide skills training, and then approach their ideology.

“We don’t go to their ideology first because no one like being told [what to believe]. We have to win their trust by visiting them, talking to them and understanding them. But understanding them does not mean supporting them,” he said.

“Once we win their trust, we can provide them skill training such as in cooking and also managing a café. Later, we can approach their ideology. That is what I did with Yusuf,” Noor Huda explained.

From Jihad to Culinary Business

After interviewing Yusuf in prison, Noor Huda visited him regularly, and finally recruited him to the restaurant business. Yusuf found himself falling in love with it.

“At that time, I worked in a duck restaurant. Somehow, I found that I like to cook, serve people and also send delivery food,” Yusuf said. “From there, I realised that I have an interest in cooking and the culinary business, because food is among our daily needs,” he said.

Dapoer Bistik serves Indonesian-style beef steak, chicken, crabs and squid with an affordable price for local people. Located in a culinary centre of Semarang, the restaurant earns Rp 1m-2m ($104-$208) per day.

Yusuf is responsible for managing the restaurant’s finances and hopes to strengthen the brand so they can develop a franchise business.

“Dapoer Bistik has just got a nomination to join a comparative study in Bandung in November, where we would meet prospective buyers who are interested to invest in Dapoer Bistik,” he told Khabar.

Outreach work

When he’s not focusing on the business, Yusuf visits friends: other convicted former terrorists who are in jail in Jakarta, Semarang, Nusa Kambangan or Depok.

While maintaining the ties of friendship, he also talks to them about business alternatives to consider once they are released.

“I do this because I care about them. I don’t want them to have no job when they are released and end up engaged with terrorism activity again,” he explained.

“I would not force them to do the same business as me. If they are interested with other stuff, then they can also do it. At least, they have a source of income,” he added.

Noor Huda has also encouraged Yusuf to recruit drop-out students to work at Dapoer Bistik, to give the daily work a greater sense of social mission.

“Merely being employed is not everything for former terrorists. Therefore, I asked Yusuf to start searching for drop-out students to work at Dapoer Bistik,” he said.

“It provided him a feeling that he was a useful member in the community because he was helping to solve one of Indonesia’s acute social problems, which is unemployment.”

Expanding to Solo

Bistik Iga Bakar, an Indonesian-style rib steak, served at Dapoer Bistik.

Yusuf has successfully brought several convicted terrorists into the business.

They include Hari Setia, who spent four years in jail for providing a shelter for Noordin M Top; Wawan, who helped fund the second Bali bombing by robbing a cell phone shop in Semarang; Ardi, who provided Noordin M Top transportation; and Jack Harun, who was Noordin’s former right-hand man and also a veteran of the Ambon conflict.

“One of Hari’s greatest contributions to Dapoer Bistik is his initiative to register Dapoer Bistik’s products at the health department in Semarang,” Noor Huda said.

“Wawan used to work for Dapoer Bistik for two months cleaning up dishes. He’s now running his own business, providing glass for construction purposes.” he explained.

An unexpected request came from Jack Harun in 2011: to open a Dapoer Bistik in Solo.

“With directions from Yusuf, Jack has chosen an excellent place. It’s in a culinary area and near a mosque where Bashir delivered his sermons and a place where many Islamic activists get together,” he said, referring to jailed Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, seen as a spiritual mentor to militants.

Noor Huda explained that running Dapoer Bistik in Solo is much more challenging than Semarang, because it is located in the heart of a radical environment.

“The role of environment plays an important role in disengaging individuals from violent activities. Dapoer Bistik in Solo is still a work in progress. It is far too early to judge the effectiveness of the programme,” he said.

But one positive indicator is that Jack has managed to recruit a former member of Tim Hisbah to Dapoer Bistik in Solo, he said.

Hisbah, an anti-vice group with a history of raiding nightclubs, has recently launched attacks on police, and is believed responsible for suicide attacks in Solo and Cirebon.

“Not such a dangerous person”

Last month, Yusuf reached another landmark in his rehabilitation: he completed his probation on October 10th.

Prior to that date, he was required to report to the East Java Police once a month, making a five-hour trip by motorcycle to Surabaya to sign a piece of paper.

“During my probation period, I was often asked by police to give them information about the terror suspects. I understand that they must still suspect me sometimes,” he said.

“Not just police. My family often checks on me. But I understand and I cannot blame them,” he added.

Yusuf told Khabar he has brought his parents and family to Dapoer Bistik to show them who he is today.

“The most important thing is that I can assure them is that their son is not such a dangerous person anymore. That I have not engaged in any terrorism activity anymore. That is the most important thing,” he explained proudly.

Militant training camp discovered in Poso

Khabar Southeast Asia

Militant training camp discovered in Poso

Officials say the hills and forests of Central Sulawesi – once the scene of horrific sectarian conflict – have become a haven for terrorists

A major security operation under way in Poso, Central Sulawesi has uncovered a suspected terrorist training site on Gunung Biru (Blue Mountain), not far from the place where the dead bodies of two missing policemen were found in early October, multiple media have reported.

Police found weapons, hiding places dug in the ground and the word “jihad” written on a tree at the site, a clearing about two hectares in size in the midst of a thick forest.

Live mines, apparently placed to target security forces, were successfully deactivated, Central Sulawesi Police Chief Dewa Parsana told the Antara News Agency. A 300-strong joint force of police and soldiers is combing the area, hunting for militants and any other explosives that could harm local residents working in a nearby cocoa plantation.

The clearing is about 2km from where two missing policemen were found on October 16th, buried together in a hole, their throats slit. They had been sent to the area to investigate an alleged paramilitary training camp linked to extremist Islamist group Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT).

Terrorism hotbed

The following day, security forces mounted an aggressive operation in the area which is still unfolding. Major events are summarised here. [LINK TO TIMELINE]

Officials say that militants who once gathered in the hills of Aceh have decamped to Central Sulawesi, a place already scarred by a history of Christian-Muslim violence.

“Since 2010, terrorist groups wanted to make Aceh a militant training base because of the geographical reason. But we have successfully defeated their plan,” National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) head Ansyaad Mbai told Khabar Southeast Asia.

“Therefore they looked for a new place, which ended up in Poso. They chose Poso because of its geography and history, since Poso was a conflict area back in 1998 and 2000.”

From the late 1990s to the mid-2000s, Poso was home to sectarian conflict between Muslims and Christians in which 1,000 people were reportedly killed.

Since then, Poso has become a terrorism hotbed, hosting several terrorism cells. The groups are trying to reignite sectarian conflict in the region, Mbai said.

“Their goal is to establish an Islamic state based on their version of Sharia Islam.” Ansyaad said. “If the scenario goes as expected, they would call for a jihad,” he said.

“However, the local communities are aware of what is happening. They are not easily provoked because they have been suffering from previous experiences,” he said. Experts: terrorists trying to use Poso as base

At a recent forum in Jakarta, terrorism expert Solahuddin said that militants are trying to establish a new jihad movement in Poso by uniting smaller cells from all over Indonesia, including those based in Medan and Java.

“They were all united through the military training. They got funded from cyber robbery,” said Solahuddin, a journalist who wrote “From NII to JI: Salafi Jihadism in Indonesia”.

Fugitive terrorist Santoso, thought to be the current leader of the Poso movement, was enflamed after police recently arrested members of the Al-Qaeda Indonesia network, including a man arrested in Palu, Sulawesi.

“That led to the kidnapping of police officers and the bombing of a police post, and they now challenge police officers to an open war,” Solahuddin said.

Caught in the crossfire

The security operation has been costly for local residents. Twenty-two people swept up in a sunrise raid in Kayamanya village and released that evening are taking complaints of heavy-handed police techniques to the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas Ham), according to reports.

Residents have also protested the deaths of two local people – militant suspects, according to police – shot dead in the course of the raids.

Ansyaad said one of the biggest problems in combating terrorism in Poso is religious sensitivity and misinterpretation of what is happening.

“Often time, the counterterrorism operation tends to be misinterpreted as repressive to religious activities because the terrorist groups always claim their activities as religious activities,” he said. “The terrorist tends to claim that what they are doing is a religious struggle, which is very easily used to provoke society.”

At the same time, local officials and citizens support counterterrorism efforts in Poso because they are tired of the terrorists’ activities.

“Even the local government is worried that terrorist groups’ activities can trigger the sectarian conflict in Poso. And local communities also have been sick and tired with the terrorist groups’ activities. But they are too afraid to report it to the police,” he said. “However, residents have shown their support to the law enforcement officers to combat the growth of terrorism in Poso.”

Security incidents in Poso, Sulawesi: October 8th – November 8th

October 8:

Two policemen sent to investigate reports of a terror training camp last seen alive in Tamenjeka village, Poso Pesisir district, Central Sulawesi.

October 16:

The two are found buried together in a hole with their throats slit, near where they were last seen.

October 17th:

Security forces begin a massive operation to capture the perpetrators, combing the Tamanjeka mountain range, where they believe terrorists are hiding.

October 22:

A church in Madale, Poso is torched. About four hours later, a pair of bombs explode at a traffic police post in Poso City, the regency’s capital.

October 23:

Police detonate a home-made bomb found in Tonipa, Poso.

October 28:

Police find a bomb capable of triggering a “massive” explosion in the yard of a house in Tamanjeka.

October 31:

Anti-terrorism forces arrest five suspected terrorists in Kalora village, Poso Pesisir Utara district. One man, identified as wanted terror suspect Jipo, is killed in the operation.

November 3rd:

Detachment 88 tracks down two more suspected terrorists, identified as MY and K, in Kayamanya village. K is shot dead after he flings explosives at police. MY is arrested. The same day, soldiers discover an apparent militant training camp not far from Tamanjeka.

November 8th:

Police detonate a bomb found behind a home in Landangan, Poso. They say it is similar to explosives found at the militant training site.

Arrests in Java yield new crop of terror suspects

Khabar Southeast Asia

Arrests in Java yield new crop of terror suspects

A police officer assists with an investigation at a house in Palmerah, West Jakarta where Detachment 88 arrested three suspected terrorists on Saturday (October 27th). A total of 11 alleged militants were arrested in four provinces. [Clara Prima/Khabar]

As new terror plots come to light, religious leaders lament how radicalism is undermining Indonesian pluralism and harmony.

Eleven terror suspects arrested by anti-terrorism squad Detachment 88 in Java over the weekend are all new to law enforcement, police said Monday (October 29th).

“We are currently investigating their profile. It appears that their faces are 100% new. They have never been listed in the old networks,” national police spokesman Brigadier General Boy Rafli Amar told reporters in Jakarta.

“Even though their faces are 100% new, we strongly suspect that they have a strong relationship with old networks,” Boy said.

From Friday to Saturday, counterterrorism operations across Java yielded 11 suspects as well as home-made bombs, explosive material, ammunition and bomb-making manuals in four different locations.

At 8 pm Friday (October 26th), Detachment 88 forces arrested two suspected terrorists – Agus Anton and Warso – in Madiun, East Java.

On Saturday, the anti-terror squad picked up three terror suspects in Solo, Central Java – Abu Hanifah, Harun and Budianto. Abu Hanifah is the leader of the Sunni Movement for Indonesian Society (Harakah Sunni untuk Masyarakat Indonesia or HASMI).

The same day, anti-terror forces arrested three suspects in Bogor, West Java –Emir, Zainudin and Usman – and three more in Palmerah, West Jakarta: Azhar, Herman and Sunarto.

Group had ambitious plans for violence

All the detained men allegedly belonged to a network that was targeting US diplomatic missions and a Jakarta building that houses the offices of mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, according to police.

“This group targeted the US consulate in Surabaya, the US embassy in Jakarta, Plaza 89 in Jakarta, which is located in front of the Australian embassy and the office of Freeport, and also Mobile Police Brigade in Central Java,” national police spokesman Suhardi Alius told reporters in a press conference Saturday.

Boy added that based on current analysis of seized documents; the group wanted to attack foreigners because of the “Innocence of Muslims” film. “Other than that, the group also wants to attack the law enforcement officers,” he added.

Information leading to arrests was obtained from investigations of previous cases, tips from regular people and the use of technology to monitor activities, he said.

Religious leader: economy, misunderstandings of Islam sow militancy

Hearing of the arrests, Mustofa Bisri, a religious leader from Central Java, said the emergence of a new terror outfit was likely rooted in economic factors and mistaken religious convictions.

He urged the government to address economic disparities that can set the stage for young people to be led astray. Meanwhile, he said, religious leaders must set people straight about the true meaning of jihad.

“The government must be sensitive to immediately find solutions to radicalisation and terrorist movements in this country,” said the leader, affectionately known to his followers as Gus Mus. He spoke after attending a ceremony in remembrance of the late president Abdurrahman Wahid in Jombang East Java, on Sunday (October 28th).

Police raids alone will not extinguish terrorism, he cautioned: the root causes of radicalism must be addressed. Those efforts must be redoubled, because the movement keeps popping up and spawning new terrorists who are young people, he said.

“It’s very unfortunate that such movements continue to emerge and haunt the security of this nation,” Gus Mus said. “This country, which has embraced the ideology of pluralism, must maintain peace. Indonesia is a big country with the potential to show harmony to the world.”

“There will be no beauty in this country if violence and arrogant actions are called up to address every kind of problem,” echoed Salahuddin Wahid, the former president’s brother. HASMI group denies connection

Meanwhile, a Bogor based Islamic mass organisation named HASMI visited the National Police headquarters in Jakarta to deny any links with the suspected terrorists.

According to a press release published on their official website, the organisation has nothing to do with the HASMI terrorist group, but focuses on formal education and peaceful preaching.

Police spokesman Boy indicated it may be a case of the same name being used by two different groups – one a legitimate organisation, and the other a network of extremist militants.

“We strongly assume that HASMI (terrorist group) is different with Bogor based HASMI. We do not want to get stuck on the name of an organisation, but on what they are doing, what their plans are,” Boy said.