Indonesian Terrorists enjoy generous remissions, although terrorism has been declared an extraordinary crime
The message a former terrorism convict was sending when he exploded a homemade bomb in a residential area in Cicendo in the heart of Bandung, the capital of West Java, on Monday was clear: terrorism is still alive and kicking, regardless of the government’s relentless efforts to fight terrorism.
Indeed, we have not seen any major bombings since the 2009 double hotel blasts in South Jakarta, but sporadic terror attacks have been launched against various targets, including the police, within this eight-year period. Terrorist cells appear to have divided and reproduced to survive and spread their ideology of violence.
The rise of the Islamic State (IS) group has shifted the nerve center of the global terrorist movement to Syria and Iraq, but justification of killing in the name of Islam persists worldwide. More and more homegrown terrorist groups here have pledged allegiance to IS.
The bomb blast in Cicendo was allegedly perpetrated by Yayat Cahdiyat, a member of Jemaah Ansarud Daulah (JAD), a terrorist group linked to IS and believed to be responsible for a number of plotted and realized attacks in Indonesia. The group has also been held responsible for the attack near the Sarinah shopping center on Jl. Thamrin in January last year.
No information could be extracted from Yayat as the police shot him dead after a standoff that lasted several hours. This incident has shown that authorities, particularly the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), have work that needs to be done sooner, not later.
Yayat is only the latest recidivist offender in Indonesia’s fight against terrorism. He was convicted under the Terrorism Law and sentenced to three years in prison in 2012 for robbing a gas station to help fund a paramilitary training camp in Aceh in 2010. After being granted remission, he was released after serving only two years of his prison term. And now, he has made headlines again for yet another act of terrorism.
One of the four attackers killed in the Sarinah attack, Afif Sunakim, and Juhanda, the person who threw a Molotov cocktail that killed a 2-year-old girl in a church compound in Samarinda last November, were both recidivists. Like Yayat they enjoyed generous remissions, although terrorism has been declared an extraordinary crime.
The government has issued a regulation to tighten remission entitlements for terrorism and corruption convicts, but it is often unenforceable.
Remissions are commonly awarded to convicts who display “good behavior,” which most terrorists and fraudsters can easily achieve through seemingly devout worship. In combating terrorism, Indonesia’s criminal justice system seems to lack deterrence in the first place, with judges failing to hand down maximum sentences to most convicts.
Prison management has exacerbated recidivism as it enables ideologues like jailed JAD leader Aman Abdurrahman to instill radical teachings among his followers, as well as other inmates, at the expense of the government sponsored deradicalization program.
The Cicendo blast, reminiscent of the attack on a police station back in 1981, should encourage both lawmakers and the government to address recidivism in their ongoing revision of the Terrorism Law.