Counter-Terrorism: Indonesia And The Raid

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January 10, 2014:   Outside the Indonesian capital (Jakarta) police raided a house full of Islamic terrorists on December 31st. They were met with gunfire. After a nine hour siege six Islamic terrorists were dead and one captured. Police found six bombs, firearms and documents. This was what the security forces were looking for as this group was connected with the Santoso terrorist network. Santoso (many Indonesians go by one name) has been around for decades and is one of the few old-school Islamic terrorists still in action. The New Years Eve raid came about because earlier in the day police arrested another terrorist they were seeking and quickly got him to talk, and reveal the location of the house that was raided later that day. 

This raid was part of year-long operation to hunt down a group of Islamic terrorists who were detected a year ago planning an attack on the Burmese embassy (in response to anti-Moslem activity in largely Buddhist Burma). This group also made themselves targets by conducting a series of armed robberies to raise cash. This included at least one bank robbery. There was also a failed suicide bomber attack on a police station.  Most Santoso group activity takes place in central Indonesia and the capital and are believe connected with Islamic terror groups active on the nearby island of Sulawesi.

For two decades Sulawesi has been the scene of growing Islamic radicalism and terrorism. That’s because over half the population on Sulawesi is non-Moslem (mostly Christian). In the late 1990s, Islamic militants came along, preaching violence against infidels (non-Moslems). Over a thousand people have died so far, but extra police and soldiers have eliminated most of the violence. Hundreds of Islamic radicals are still on the island and nearby West Java, and are still preaching violence. Police activity in Sulawesi kept increasing because it was believed more members of terror group Jemaah Islamiah (JI) were coming to Sulawesi to hide out.

Christians are a minority nationwide while 87 percent of the population is Moslem. The tensions in Sulawesi are not entirely religious. The Christian areas used to be almost entirely Christian, but over the last three decades, the government has encouraged (with laws, money and land) Moslems from overpopulated areas to move to less populated Christian areas. This has created frictions.

Counter-terrorism efforts appeared to have wiped out the JI presence on Sulawesi but new Islamic radical groups there survived attempts to completely eliminate them. Over the last five years the police have been working their way down an increasingly threadbare list of terrorist suspects. Moreover, it's been years since JI has been able to launch a major attack. This is because counter-terrorism forces have created a good intelligence network. Thus the threat to the Burmese embassy was quickly detected. In the last few years, attacks against non-Moslems have resulted in a stronger and stronger backlash from the police, and Christians. Five years ago the vigilantes switched tactics and began concentrating on driving Christians into ghettos, and reducing the number of Moslems converting to Christianity. Anti-infidel (non-Moslem) violence is a growing problem, as Islamic radicals seek an outlet for their aggression that won't land them in prison. All this Islamic radical activity keeps producing new recruits for Islamic terror groups. With little support from mosques or the larger Islamic organizations, these new Islamic terrorists have to resort to crime to fund their operations.

Several raids over the last year have provided more information on the whereabouts of Santoso, an older JI operative who is believed to be the mastermind behind the new Islamic terrorist groups forming on Sulawesi and elsewhere in central Indonesia. In the last few years the police have been brutal against separatists in Papua but quite lax against Islamic radicals attacking Christians and Moslems who do not follow strict lifestyle rules. The government believes it is following the votes by tolerating the police brutality (which has been common in Indonesia for decades). Many Indonesians (Moslems and non-Moslems alike) believe this policy has allowed Islamic terrorist groups to keep recruiting and avoiding eradication.

 

 


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