Thursday, June 6, 2013

Indonesia’s Poso Terror Revisited

Poso was one of the hottest of hotspots in the late 1990s when sectarian conflict broke out in the aftermath of the downfall of the New Order regime to and beginning of the reformasi era.

The Malino II peace accord signed in February 2002 effectively brought calm to the region, but within a decade terror has returned to Central Sulawesi, an area identified by police as one of the strongholds of terrorist groups.

A suicide bombing at Poso Police headquarters on Monday morning, confirmed that the area remains a critical center of insurgency: one that demands special attention and treatment, not only by the police, but by the government and the population at large.

Monday’s bombing was a similar to a suicide bombing in Cirebon, West Java, in April 2011, which also targeted the police. The bomb, which hit the Adz-Dzikra Mosque inside the Cirebon Police compound, exploded while the congregation was performing the Friday prayers. The bomber died in the attack and dozens of police officers, who made up the majority of the congregation, were injured by shrapnel.

Central Sulawesi Police investigating the Poso blast, can only say that the bomber was a man in his mid-30s with a height of around 160 centimeters. His face is apparently the only part of his body even slightly recognizable. They have yet to establish his identity or his motives, including whether he is affiliated to any terrorist group.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Suhardi Alius hinted on Monday that the bomber could have been the terror convict Basri, who escaped from Central Sulawesi’s Ampana Penitentiary on April 19, or one of his supporters. Basri was sentenced to 19 years in prison by South Jakarta District Court in December 2007 for a series of terror attacks in Poso in 2005. He was linked to Santoso, leader of
the East Indonesia Mujahideen.

Apparently in support of police intelligence, terrorism experts believe Monday’s suicide bombing was in retaliation for police raids. Last month, Densus 88 counterterrorism squad gunned down seven suspected terrorists and arrested 16 others in a series of raids across Java and Lampung. Among the slain suspects was Abu Roban, the West Indonesia Mujahideen leader, who allegedly masterminded robberies around Java to finance Santoso’s terror campaign.

The latest Poso bombing should not have happened with the precedent in Cirebon. Although it is bound to be too little too late, the police need to heighten security in all police posts nationwide, particularly those situated at well-known hotspots.

At the same time, there must be no let up in the pursuit of terrorists. Together, the police and the community can destroy their networks. The Jakarta Post | Editorial |

No comments:

Post a Comment