Indonesian Antiterror Squad Demands More Tools, Say Radical Groups Waiting to Strike
The Jakarta Globe
The country’s antiterror squad on Thursday called for more power to go after suspected terrorists, warning that radicals have set up new cells in recent years and that some bomb experts belonging to regional terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, blamed for a string of terrorist attacks here, remain at large.
“Whenever they have a chance, they will launch [attacks],” Saud Usman Nasution, head of the National Police’s Special Detachment 88 (Densus 88), was quoted by Reuters as saying on the sidelines of a terrorism seminar in Jakarta.
“Many terrorists responsible for bombings in Indonesia are still at large. Many of them are still preparing themselves, it seems, and many new cells have been formed,” Nasution said.
He said lawmakers should increase the length of time police can hold terror suspects without charges from a week to a month to allow investigators more time to gather evidence and round up other cell members.
“We propose at least one month,” Nasution said, according to AFP. “Because these people are radical, we need to take an approach that will encourage them to talk.”
Police have a seven-day deadline before they must release terror suspects or charge them, but proposals to toughen regulations are to go before the House of Representatives next year.
Police have killed or captured a string of suspected militants, including Southeast Asia’s most-wanted fugitive, Noordin M Top, since suicide bombings on two luxury hotels in Jakarta in July shattered a four-year lull in attacks.
Nasution said that while Noordin’s death was a blow to regional extremists, other groups and networks continued to plot jihad against Western targets, particularly Americans.
Noordin led a splinter faction of the JI regional terror network, which he once dubbed “the Al-Qaeda of the Malay Archipelago.”
“There are many groups, not just Noordin’s group, not just Jemaah Islamiyah. There are many new cells,” he said, naming the Kompak and Jundullah extremist groups as potential threats.
“Their aim to form Islamic states and an Islamic caliphate in several countries has not been achieved yet so it’s not over yet.”
Meanwhile, the country’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, on Thursday called for the establishment of a national antiterrorism board to deal with terrorism here.
Masykuri Abdillah, NU’s chairman, said on the sidelines of the seminar that the current antiterror desk at the coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs had weak positions and could not deal with terrorist attacks in the country.
“It is better for the antiterror desk to be improved by forming a national antiterror board like the National Anti-Narcotics Agency, because both narcotics and terrorism posed similar dangers and threats,” Masykuria, a professor at Jakarta Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, told the state Antara news agency.
Nasution said that since 2000 police had detained 455 militants, of which 352 had been convicted.