The government needs to do more to combat religious violence and improve prison management to better combat terrorism, the International Crisis Group said in its latest report released on Monday.
Titled “How Indonesian Extremists Regroup,” the report looked into new alliances and networks in recent years since the break-up of a paramilitary training camp in Aceh by the country’s counterterrorism unit in early 2010.
“Indonesian police have been good, but they have also been lucky that the capacity of these extremists has been so low,” Jim Della-Giacoma, the ICG’s Southeast Asia project director, said in a statement.
The report mentioned at least 12 plots, which it said had been hatched since the camp was broken up.
“Fortunately for Indonesia, most of these would-be terrorists have been singularly inept,” ICG senior adviser Sidney Jones said. “But there are signs that at least some are learning lessons from their mistakes and becoming more strategic in their thinking. The danger is not over.”
One of the lessons that jihadi movements learned, according to the report, was to invest more time in dakwah, or religious outreach, and that they needed hard-line pro-Shariah advocacy groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) as a base for community support.
“The failure of the government to acknowledge, let alone address, the menace these groups pose to Indonesia’s social fabric is an invitation to more violence in the future,” the report said.
The ICG also warned of growing extremism in places with high intolerance and religious violence but weak law enforcement, such as West Java.
“It’s a place where the police have not been as active as they should be in arresting thugs who commit crimes of vandalism, assault and incitement against minorities in the name of anti-vice, anti-apostasy or anti-Christianization campaigns,” Jones said.
“Allowing this kind of violence to go unpunished encourages extremism and allows it to grow.”
The ICG recommends maximum sentences for vandalism, assault and threats of violence, as well as clear instructions to all officials, including government employees and police, to avoid interactions with groups or members of groups with a known history of such activity.
The government also needs to work on strategies to reduce the influence of extremist clerics, including stricter control of hate speech, incitement and prohibition for institutions receiving government funding to host such teachings, it said.
Prisons also became an area of concern since they are the location for “cross-organizational interaction.”
The late Hilman Djayakusumah, a drug dealer who was shot to death in a police raid in Bali in March, was recruited by Imam Samudera in 2004 when both were inmates in the island’s Kerobokan prison.
Hilman was allegedly plotting a third Bali bombing together with four others, of which two were also former inmates at Kerobokan in 2004.
Lax monitoring of prison visits to jihadis have also been used by their friends and relatives to share information, keep networks together and even recruit new sympathizers, according to the report.
“The penitentiary directorate of the government has so far failed to enforce a universal policy on its prisons regarding terrorist convicts,” Agus Nahrowi, program manager at Search for Common Ground, told the Globe.
The international NGO runs programs for terrorist convicts in several prisons in the country.
“In Cipinang [in East Jakarta], for instance, terrorist convicts are put in separate cells, but in other places they can mix with other criminals,” Agus said.