Nurfika Osman & Candra Malik
Terrorism experts and religious leaders were critical of police after two suspected terrorists were reportedly killed in a raid on Friday, saying security forces missed an opportunity to gather key intelligence on terror networks by failing to take them into custody.
Saifuddin Zuhri bin Djaelani Irsyad and Mohamad Syahrir, both suspects in the July 17 bombings of Jakarta’s JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels , are believed to have been killed in a raid in Ciputat, Tangerang, west of Jakarta, after Muslim prayer services on Friday. Police declined to confirm their identities until the official autopsy was completed on Monday.
Sydney Jones, an expert from the Jakarta office of the International Crisis Group, said police should have captured the suspects alive “because both of them know more information about terrorism links even though they are relatively new people.”
Jones said their deaths did not signal an end to terrorism in the country, as thousands of other terrorists remained at large.
“It is going to be very difficult to unravel terrorism networks if they are dead as we need to know their links,” she said. “Now anyone can be the successor and we do not know who he is,” Jones added, indicating that security forces are still unclear who might take the helm of terrorist groups after the death of Noordin M Top, who was killed last month during a raid near Solo.
She declined to speculate on possible future leaders of the terrorist networks in Southeast Asia, but said other dangerous figures include Nur Hasbi, who is also wanted in connection with the hotel bombings. The list of wanted terrorists also includes Reno, alias Tedi, who has been at large since 2005, and Maruto Jati Sulistiono, who has evaded police capture since 2006. All three men have escaped police dragnets.
Meanwhile, Jaleswary Pramodhawardani, a military expert from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said police violated the country’s 2003 Law on Terrorism, which stipulated that they try their best to capture terrorists alive.
“Murdering is not the police’s job. They have to find solutions to get the links instead of conducting military operations to get the terrorists,” she said.
Zainal Adnan, the chair of the Solo branch of the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), also raised questions about the shootings. “Why are they always caught dead? Why is it that all the public gets is more bodies? This is a bad for the image of Islam and its followers, who have shared the blame for terrorism,” Adnan said. He said killing the terrorists in such a raid would only increase suspicion that police were not equipped to tackle terrorism properly.
“It should be enough for police to immobilize them by shooting them in the leg or another body part that won’t kill them. That way, the suspects can be brought to trial to reveal the case in front of a panel of judges,” he said.
Muhammad Kurniawan, a lawyer with the Islamic Studies and Action Center, who arranged the funerals of suspected terrorists Bagus Budi Pranoto, Ario Sudarso, and Hadi Susilo, said he believed police had an ulterior motive in ensuring the raids ended in death.
“Since the siege in M Zuhri’s house in Temanggung where Noordin M Top was thought to be hiding, and then it turned out he wasn’t, police embarrassment seems to have no end. It seems there’s a plan that requires all suspected terrorists to die rather than to be brought to trial, where it could be legally determined whether or not they were terrorists,” he said.