Abdurrahman Ayyub, the former Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) leader for Australia, New Zealand and Papua told us on Sunday (April 5) that websites containing hateful speech might not directly impact Indonesia today, but it would certainly haunt us in the future. If the content of a website threatens national security, the content/website has to be blocked. Such is the argument for censorship. [Continue reading]
The presence of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) sympathizers has alarmed the Indonesian authorities. There are worries that ISIS propaganda would spread and eventually spark terrorist activities. The worry is not unfounded. ISIS have been aggressively promoting their cause through the internet. This is exactly where the authorities are now focused on, the decision has been made. The Government now patrols the net and actively seek to block propaganda websites. [Continue reading]
On Monday (Jan. 19), the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) released a report on the “Support for Islamic State in Indonesian Prisons”. According to the report, the Indonesian Islamic State supporters are a minority in the group of convicted terrorists in Indonesian prisons.The prison staff members have successfully limited the spread of hardline ideology under their watch. But an obstacle remains, a convicted terrorist could be encouraged to join IS if his family is tangled up in financial problems. [Continue reading]
On Monday (Dec. 15) Australians were shocked by a hostage-taking situation that took place at a cafe in Sydney, Australia. The hostage taker was identified as Man Haron Monis, a supposedly troubled, self-radicalized person with a deep history of violence. It was a tragedy that sparked a discussion on self-radicalization and its threat to national security. This led our thoughts closer to home as we began pondering about self-radicalization in Indonesia. [continue reading]
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, otherwise known as ISIS, has become a potential security threat in Indonesia. This is a concern for the Indonesian law enforcement officials today given that many Indonesian hard-liners have openly declared the support of ISIS. [continue reading]
Job tittle : Head of National Agency for Combating Terrorism (BNPT)
Place of Birth : Buton, Southeast Sulawesi
Date of Birth : 2 June 1948
Related article about Ansyaad Mbai:
A convicted terrorist’s decision to escape by donning women’s garb is “embarrassing” and disrespectful to Islam, scholars say. It has also led to new screening rules at prisons where militants are incarcerated.
In November, a convicted terrorist escaped from jail by disguising himself as a woman wearing a burqa, forcing police to introduce new security checks.
Roki Aprisdianto, 29, was serving a six-year sentence for bombings in Central Java between December 2009 and January 2011. One of six men imprisoned for the blasts, he is considered the leader of the cell.
According to a police investigation, Roki disguised himself as a woman and walked out of Jakarta Metro Police Headquarters at midday on November 6th, a time when about two dozen women in burqas were visiting detainees incarcerated there.
His action has prompted security personnel to take action in order to prevent similar escapades in the future. Women in burqas who seek to visit terrorist detention centres will now be required to reveal their faces to female guards.
“All of those entering and leaving [the Jakarta Police detention centre], including people in burqas, will be checked,” National Police Inspector General Suhardi Alius announced, according to The Jakarta Globe. Previously, burqa-clad women were only required to surrender their identity cards while visiting prisoners.
Militants bring stigma to innocent women
The burqa escape has prompted heated discussion among women who choose to wear Muslim garb.
Siti Musdah Mulia, 54, an Islamic scholar from the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace, agreed that burqa-clad women visiting detainees need to lift their veils for identity and security reasons.
“At the State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah (Jakarta), where I am teaching, I don’t allow any of my female students to wear burqas in my class, because I cannot identify whether they are my students or not,” Musdah, who wears a hijab, told Khabar Southeast Asia.
“I will not let them join my class,” she said.
Setianingrum, 38, a resident of Yogyakarta who wears a burqa, disagreed with the inspection, especially if it involves policemen.
“It is not fair for us to be held responsible for this. The escape of the Indonesian terrorist must not impact us,” Setianingrum told Khabar via telephone from in Central Java.
But Baiq Marni Rosniah Kamardi, an Indonesian scholar who previously lived in Egypt and still wears a burqa, said that terrorists have once again hijacked a part of Islam for their own nefarious purposes.
“Terrorists should not use Islam to hurt people and again to escape behind the burqa. This is embarrassing,” Marni, 35, told Khabar via telephone from her home in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.
“I personally disagree with the Indonesian police’s decision to investigate every woman wearing a burqa. However, since this holy clothing was used by a terrorist to escape, I have no choice but to agree,” she added.
“Not only is our religion being blamed, but sadly now innocent Muslim women as well,” she said.
Changing times in Indonesia
Hijab and burqa have become more popular since the end of the Suharto regime in 1998, which restricted them from being worn in schools and government institutions. Even today, less than 5% of the population wears burqas.
In some parts of the country, however, regional regulations (Peraturan Daerah or Perda) have been established that require conservative dress.
In Aceh and in South Sulawesi, for example, Muslim women are required to cover everything but their faces, palms and feet, and Muslim men must cover themselves from the navel to the knee.
In the second part of an exclusive interview, Indonesia’s counterterrorism chief describes ways about how Indonesian law and prison facilities make his job tougher.
A great weakness of the Indonesian legal system is that it does not authorise action against the “spiritual mentors” of militants, Ansyaad Mbai, head of the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), told Khabar Southeast Asia in an exclusive interview last week.
To address that weakness, the government is preparing an amendment to the 2003 anti-terrorism law, Ansyaad said in a wide-ranging discussion on security issues in which he described ongoing obstacles to fighting terrorism, as well as concrete actions his agency is taking.
The legal protection of hate speech, poor prison facilities and a too-soft approach to terrorism convicts are among the obstacles outlined by the counterterrorism chief.
Rooting out radical ideology will be a long-term effort requiring broad support from civil society and moderate clergy, he said. Many former militants are co-operating with the effort, what he called one of the most effective methods of stemming radicalisation.
Free speech, or hate speech?
The recent arrests of some more than ten terror suspects in Solo suggest that the city remains a focus of illegal activity, despite concerted efforts to stomp out terrorism.
Terrorism persists in the central Javanese city because there are so many ideological figures or “spiritual mentors” who still actively preach radical messages there, Ansyaad said.
“Unfortunately, the Indonesian legal system has not yet categorised those activities as criminal actions. It’s what I consider a great weakness of our legal system” he told Khabar.
“Actually many religious leaders have urged us to take serious actions against the figures who are actively spreading hatred and enmity in the name of religion. But we do not have the authority to do so,” he explained.
“Those hate-filled speeches are still categorised as freedom of speech.” Ansyaad added that Indonesia is currently finalising a draft amendment of 2003 Anti-terrorism law that would add hate speech activity as a criminal action. “By adding the hate speech as criminal activity, we can be more proactive in countering terrorism. It is because that (hate speech) is actually the first step of the radicalism process and terrorism,” he said.
Radicalised in prison
Indonesian law also mandates a “soft approach” in handling terror detainees, he said. For example, infamous firebrand cleric and convicted terrorist Abu Bakar Bashir has never been compelled to wear a prison uniform, and is able to continue preaching from prison.
“So we have not only a soft approach, but a too-soft approach,” he said. Ansyaad admitted that Indonesia faces a challenge in curbing the spread of militant ideology in its overburdened prisons.
In March, counterterrorism forces shot dead five suspects believed to have been planning a series of attacks in Bali, which this week marks the tenth anniversary of the worst-ever terrorism attacks on Indonesian soil, the 2002 bombings in Kuta.
Three of the five suspects were former drug dealers who were radicalised by Bali bombers Imam Samudra and Amrozi in Kerobokan prison.
“It is indeed one of our biggest obstacles, minimal facilities that become overloaded. It’s a dilemma,” he said. “If we place all the terrorists in one block, then they will reunite. But if the terrorists are placed with non-terrorists, the non-terrorist can become a terrorist.”
Even if Indonesia were to isolate terrorists in a single facility, it would still be necessary to separate the high-risk prisoners from the low-risk ones, he said.
“So prisons keep trying to improve, but with limited facilities,” he said.
Reaching the ‘brother community’
The national deradicalisation programme Indonesia is currently developing has two main targets: terrorists in prison or police custody, and the broader “brother community” that provides support for terrorists.
“The first objective has been achieved in many countries. But the second objective, targeting the brother community, is a big job and require a long-term strategy,” he said. “We need the involvement of moderate religious leaders and also non-governmental organisations.”
A main goal of the effort is to neutralise radical messages about the meaning of jihad and the treatment of non-believers, for example. A key strategy will be to use former militants to denounce terrorism.
“Experience has shown, the best way to catch a thief is by using a thief. The fact that terrorists complain about this tactic shows that it is effective,” he said.
More than 50 former Indonesian militants who trained in Afghanistan have agreed to co-operate in a BNPT deradicalisation programme, visiting 14 prisons in ten big cities throughout the country “to convince others that what they were doing was wrong,” he said.
“We need more and more like them,” he said. “The more ex-terrorists who oppose terrorism, the better. And certainly that will make terrorists complain,” he said.
For the first part of the interview with Ansyaad, click here.
Terrorism remains a real threat in Indonesia, and militants are becoming more sophisticated at bomb-making, Ansyaad Mbai, head of the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), told Khabar Southeast Asia in an exclusive interview Thursday (October 4th).
“With this latest case, the terrorism threat is still real,” Ansyaad said, referring to a string of arrests in September of suspects who claim they belong to Al-Qaeda Indonesia.
No evidence has been found of links to international terrorists. “We have found no evidence of that. But they did indeed plan to form a network called Al-Qaeda Indonesia,” he said.
Suspects picked up in a series of incidents in late September in Solo, Central Java and Depok, West Java appear to have been more creative and sophisticated than other terror groups in assembling bombs, employing, among other items, plastic food containers and rice cookers.
Police seized liquid nitroglycerin bombs packed in plastic bags, four pipe bombs, two bottle bombs, 4kg of sulphur, 5kg of gunpowder and several mobile phones.
“They have become more sophisticated. It can be seen from the latest evidence which was found: they have prepared the liquid bomb. In fact, our explosive experts considered that the bomb has higher capacity than the previous homemade bomb.” Ansyaad said.
Old group, new name
In a series of raids starting on September 22nd, police detained nine terrorist suspects: Badri Hartono, Rudi Kurnia Putra, Khumaidi, Fajar Novianto, Barkah Nawah Saputra, Triyatno, Arif Pamungkas, Joko Priyanto alias Joko Jihad, and Wendy Febriangga alias Hasan.
Other suspects are still being sought by police, he said, stressing, however, that they do not represent a new group.
Some of the detainees are former members of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT), a hardline Islamic group once led by cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.
“So it’s not new at all. There are even some who have served prison time,” he said.
“Since the 2002 Bali bombings, Jemaah Islamiyah has been broken down into numbers of small groups or cells, but the cells are still in touch with one another. Later, when the name changed to Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid, their leader is still Abu Bakar Bashir,” he explained.
“Therefore it needs to be understood that even though they have been changing their name many times, these actually are not new groups. Each group still has the old figures and recruits new members.”
“At a certain level, these groups can reunite to carry out another action. Like now, we can see each group has its plan and carries it out in several different places… So you can’t say it’s new or, as some say, fourth generation. It’s not relevant to classify it in that way,” he said.
Their goals remain the same, but their targets have shifted over the past decade.
“Before the emphasis was the West, the ‘far enemy.’ Now it’s more the ‘near enemy’. Why? Because they have experienced — over these more than ten years — that in fact what most obstructs their movement is the ‘near enemy’, and the enemy that is nearest to them is the police,” he said.
Their goal, he added, is to establish an Islamic state based on their version of Sharia Islam.
“Careful when you write Sharia Islam…it’s ‘their version of Sharia Islam’,” he said.
Authorities have found no evidence of foreign money flowing to radicals in Indonesia. But 2012 saw evidence of multiple approaches employed to raise money at home.
“It appears that their pattern now is to focus domestically, stealing over the Internet, or using the conventional way, which is by robbing banks or gold shops or whatever they can,” he said.
In May, authorities arrested alleged hackers Rizki Gunawan in Jakarta and Cahya Fitriyanta in Bandung, who managed to break into a multi-level marketing website and obtain almost 5,937 billion rupiah ($617,150) – money used, according to police, to fund terror activities including militant training in Poso and the bombing of a church in Solo last year.
On Monday (October 8th), Cahya Fitriyanta’s trial began in West Jakarta District Court. He faces multiple charges including hacking, money laundering and supporting terrorism.
A new breed of radical extremists is posing a security threat to Indonesia, officials and analysts say, citing a recent series of attacks in Solo as an example.
Two young men, Farhan Mujahidin (19) and Mukhsin Sanny Permady (20), were shot dead by counterterrorism police during an August 31st raid, after allegedly staging assaults on police posts. A third suspect, Bayu Setiono, is under arrest.
According to Brigadier General Boy Rafli Amar, spokesman for the National Police, the men appear to belong to a newly-formed extremist group – but one which is affiliated with long-standing terror networks, and with the hardline Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) organisation.
Farhan, for instance, was the stepson of convicted terrorist Abu Umar, currently in prison for smuggling firearms from the Philippines to Indonesia, and for organising a paramilitary training camp in 2008.
In 2010, police say, Farhan resided in the Philippines, where his stepfather obtained support for launching a terrorist attack, including plans to attack the Singaporean Embassy in Jakarta.
Bayu also had a connection with the Philippines, according to police. They say he was involved in smuggling firearms and had joined the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.
Weapons seized during the August 31st raid included an Italian-made Beretta pistol stamped “PNP [Philippine National Police] property”. According to Boy, the suspects underwent physical training at Mount Merbabu in Boyolali district, and may have earlier received training in combat strategy at other camps in Aceh or Mindanao.
He said they targeted Solo, also known as Surakarta, because they were familiar with the location. But the city was just the starting point for a broader campaign of terror attacks.
“As they used to study at the Al-Mukmin Ngruki Islamic boarding school, they are familiar with the location and have contacts there where they can hide. Therefore, they could remove any trace of their presence more easily,” Boy said.
Andi Widjajanto, a security analyst from the University of Indonesia, told Khabar Southeast Asia on Wednesday (September 5) that terrorists have been targeting police and the Indonesian government ever since the execution of three Bali bombers in November 2008.
Amrozi, Ali Ghufron and Imam Samudra were found guilty and sentenced to death for their role in the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people. Speaking by phone to Khabar, acting JAT leader Mochammad Achwan denied that the terror suspects were members of his organisation.
“I have asked JAT members whether they knew the two suspects or not, but they said that they did not know them,” he said.”I am very upset that officials always link terror suspects with our organisation”.
JAT was founded by the firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, convicted in June 2011 and sentenced to 15 years in jail for helping to organise a jihadi training camp in Aceh. He is viewed as the chief ideologist and spiritual mentor of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), implicated in the Bali bombings.
On Friday, Indonesian counterterrorism chief Ansyaad Mbai said that JAT was linked to the Solo attacks as well as a planned assault on the Indonesian Parliament in Jakarta.
“There are several small groups (whose) underground works are not related to each other, but they all came from the JI and the JAT,” he told the AFP news agency, citing information revealed by Bayu during interrogation