Victims of violence hope to change terrorist mindset

Khabar Southeast Asia

Victims of violence hope to change terrorist mindset

Sudirman Abdul Talib, 31, a victim of the 2004 Australian Embassy bombing, believes some terrorists do not understand the impact of their actions. [Elisabeth Oktofani/Khabar]

Sudirman Abdul Talib, 31, a victim of the 2004 Australian Embassy bombing, believes some terrorists do not understand the impact of their actions. [Elisabeth Oktofani/Khabar]

Those who have suffered at the hands of violent extremists believe some recruits will be moved to repent once they understand how terrorism destroys lives.

Victims of terrorism gathered on Sunday (September 8th) to commemorate a tragic episode in Jakarta’s recent history – namely, the 9th anniversary of the 2004 Australian Embassy bombing, which killed nine people and wounded at least 150 others.

“Many people might have forgotten [about the incident]. But I think it is important to make them aware that the terrorists’ victims do exist, and we are still struggling with the aftermath of the attacks,” said Mulyono Sutrisman, chairman of the Kuningan Forum, an association of people who have been affected by extremist violence.

Such atrocities must not happen again, he said at the event, which was sponsored by Alliance for Peaceful Indonesia (AIDA)

Sudirman Abdul Talib, 31, is a former security guard at the embassy. He lost his left eye in the attack and suffers from a permanent disability affecting both of his hands.

“As victims, we want to be involved in the government’s deradicalisation programme, in eliminating terrorism and preventing the growth of violent extremism in Indonesia,” Sudirman told Khabar Southeast Asia.

He believes that if all victims are united against terrorism and promote peace, it will make a difference in the future.

“We just want to be involved in making Indonesia more peaceful,” he added.

Sudirman, who now works as an administrative staff member for the security guard department, says he does not want to become a prisoner of the trauma he experienced. He believes his story can be used to change the minds of those who have been misled by violent and extremist groups.

“I have met a few former convicted terrorists. I told them about the impact of the terrorism. They were shocked and cried. They regretted their actions and apologised,” Sudirman said. “It is clear to see that sharing and explaining the impact of terrorism on the victims is an effective method to convince them [terrorists] to stop their actions.”

A crucial role in combating extremist notions

The director of AIDA, Hasibullah Satrawi, said that Indonesia has the potential to win the battle against terrorism – not only because of law enforcement efforts, but also because victims of terrorism have been willing to join in efforts to combat it.

“The victims play a strategic role in bringing Indonesia to a more peaceful place,” he said. Therefore, it is very important to empower the victims – whether mentally, physically, or financially.”

Al Chaidar, a terrorism analyst, agreed that those affected by violence have great potential to combat recruitment by extremist groups. He agreed that the government should involve victims of terrorist activity in deradicalisation programmes.

“By meeting and seeing the victims, the terrorists would consider the actions that they are going to take because they have seen the impact of their attacks,” he added.

Sudirman, the wounded security guard, says he is troubled that his hometown of Bima, in West Nusa Tenggara, is being appropriated by terrorists as a base for planning their attacks. In 2011, police raided the local Umar bin Khattab Muslib Boarding School, where they found bomb-making materials as well as weapons and jihadist videos.

“Bima is a very religious place,” Sudirman said. Muslims pray five times a day and have strong faith. As far as I know, they are not radical people. They need moderate religious leaders to tell them that Islam is actually a religion of peace,” he said.

Those vulnerable to the message of radical terrorists need to be aware of the consequences of violence, he reiterated. “They need to meet people just like us to show them the impact of terrorist acts. It is also hurting Muslims as well,” Sudirman said.

Indonesia nets alleged HASMI militants

Khabar Southeast Asia

Indonesia nets alleged HASMI militants

The terror network has deep Islamist roots – and a training camp in East Java, authorities and experts say.

Anti-terrorism forces in Indonesia have arrested three men in Central Java who allegedly stored explosives for Abu Hanifah, leader of the Sunni Movement for Indonesian Society (HASMI).

The men, identified as Winduro bin Nur Hadi, 28, Feri Susanto, 23, and Bambang Kurmanto, 45, were arrested December 6th and 7th in Sroyo village of Karanganyar Regency.

“They were arrested because they are suspected of storing chemicals and explosive powders for suspect Abu Hanifah,” Agus Rianto, National police spokesman, told reporters in Jakarta on December 7th.

Police reportedly found black powder suspected of being a bomb-making ingredient, three Molotov cocktails, and flashlights in Feri’s house.

The arrests follow counterterrorism operations across Java in late October that netted 11 HASMI members, including Abu Hanifah, as well as homemade bombs, explosive material, ammunition, and bomb-making manuals.

The network was planning attacks on US diplomatic missions in Surabaya and Jakarta, a Jakarta building that houses the offices of mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, and police facilities in Central Java, according to police.

Terrorist training camp in Java

HASMI emerged from Tim Hisbah, the network responsible for recent suicide bombings in Cirebon and Solo, and has roots in the 1950s-era Islamist group Darul Islam, Al Chaidar, a terrorism expert from Malikussaleh University in Aceh, told Khabar Southeast Asia.

“Abu Hanifah restored the Tim Hisbah movement after the death of Sigit Qurdowi, the chief of Tim Hisbah,” Chaidar said.

“He recruited new members who are not Jemaah Islamiyah members,” he said. “Unlike many terrorist groups which link to Jemaah Islamiyah, Hanifah’s network links to Darul Islam, which came to the fore in the 1950s as rebels sought to set up an Islamic state.”

Its main target, according to Chaidar, is the Indonesian government, which is hindering its efforts to establish an Islamic state.

Following the arrests in October, police learned that Abu Hanifah’s network had been conducting paramilitary training in Gunung Wilis, Madiun – unlike other militant groups that set up training camps in conflict-prone areas outside of Java, like Aceh and Poso.

“It is not something new that terrorist network established a paramilitary training camp in Java, because Darul Islam has been doing it for many years, such as in Serang, Banten and also Parangtritis, Yogyakarta,” Noor Huda Ismail, executive director of the International Institute for Peace Building, told Khabar.

Winduro bin Nur Hadi, one of the men arrested on December 6th, is suspected of having trained at Gunung Wilis with Abu Hanifah, National Police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told reporters during a trip to Lombok, according to Liputan6.

“Hanifah’s network has about 70 members. Up to now, police have arrested about 33 of them,” Chaidar said.

Militants in their midst

Residents of the village where the arrests took place expressed shock.

A witness, Yudi, said Winduro was a friendly person who worked as a garbage collector. “There is nothing wrong with his presence among people. He looks normal and works hard,” Yudi said.

Local resident Samardi Sastro expressed disbelief that local youths from a small village like Sroyo could radicalise.

“It is possible that young children can be radicalised once they leave our village. But as I witness here, there is no radical teaching or suspicious acts around the neighbourhood,” he said.

A former researcher from Gadjah Mada University, Yonaye Odriana, said radicalisation can happen anywhere.

“Youths can be radicalised in many ways, through teaching, learning, and/or by the Internet,” Yonaye told Khabar by phone from her home in Yogyakarta.

“This case is additional evidence that a small area can be a good place to grow radicalism,” she said of the arrests in Karanganyar. “Therefore, a neighbourhood watch must increase its role to monitor the community closely.”

“Meanwhile, a good teaching of peace, tolerance, and harmony based on the Qur’an will help Indonesian youth embrace those values,” she said.

Yenny Herawati in Karanganyar, Central Java contributed to this report

Burqa escape prompts discussion in Indonesia

Khabar Southeast Asia

Burqa escape prompts discussion in Indonesia

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.

New generation of terrorists shadowing Indonesia

Khabar Southeast Asia

New generation of terrorists shadowing Indonesia

Boy Rafli Amar, National Police spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday that the youthful terror suspects in Solo had links to older extremist organisations. [Elisabeth Oktofani/Khabar].

The young men who carried out the Idul Fitri attacks in Solo belonged to a new terror network with links to established groups, police say.

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