Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Indonesian Terror Threat Now More Local

The threat of terrorism in Indonesia remains high, with police and government bodies deemed to have transgressed against Islamic teaching now the main targets, a leading expert warned on Tuesday.

Sidney Jones, a senior adviser with the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, said it would be “difficult to reduce the level of radicalism and terrorism in Indonesia.”

“The numbers [of victims of terrorism] have indeed fallen, but the number of [terrorist] groups continues to rise,” she said on the sidelines of a public discussion of the links between terrorism, politics and Islam in Aceh.

Jones said the indications that terror cells were flourishing did not point to a failing by the police or government, but rather served to highlight how strong the radical ideology behind those groups was.

“Fortunately their capacity is still low. For instance, in recent acts of terrorism, the only fatalities have been the suicide bombers,” she said. “Nevertheless, over time they will become more effective.”

She added that their targets were also changing. Whereas in the past Western citizens and interests were the typical target for terrorists, this had now switched to police stations and government offices in areas where the authorities were deemed not to be supportive of conservative Islamic doctrine, she said.

“Their number one enemy is the police and ‘thaghut’ [infidel] government officials,” Jones said.

“Any public official who doesn’t back Shariah law is seen as an infidel, while their motivation for attacking the police is out of revenge for their colleagues who have been killed or arrested by police.”

Jones also warned that although police were constantly making progress in unearthing new terrorist cells and arresting their members, at a national level the terror network remained strong and should be a cause for concern for the government.

“There’s now a sort of changing of tactics, where terrorists realize that the bigger their organization, the easier it is for the authorities to detect,” Jones said.

“So they’re going with small cells. And there’s no need for any coordination between these cells because they’re all working for the same aims and vision.”

She added that the recruitment drive was also in full swing, with the cells deliberately going after conservative Muslims and those affiliated with Salafi jihadist groups.

“People who used to take part in rallies against the Ahmadiyah minority sect have now gone on to become members of these cells,” she said.

Jones said she hoped the government had a sound strategy in place to tackle the trend of creeping radicalization, to complement the effective law enforcement efforts being made so far.

“What’s needed now are continued preventive measures to address the issue of terrorist ideology,” the ICG adviser said. Jakarta Globe

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