The Thinker: A Lack of Intelligence

By webadmin on 09:06 am Sep 12, 2012
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Yanto Soegiarto

Poor old Vice President Boediono. He has been assigned to spearhead a new effort to combat terrorism, a job which is much more suitable for the intelligence chief. The plan is to formulate a comprehensive blueprint to root out terrorism which will focus on prevention and deradicalization starting next year. Boediono has experience in coordinating ministries on economic matters but fighting terrorism is a different kind of business.

Boediono will involve the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), Nahdlatul Ulama, Muhammadiyah, the Lazuardi Biru deradicalization foundation, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), universities, the National Police, Indonesian Military (TNI), and the ministries of education, religious affairs, youth and sports, and social affairs, the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) and the Ministry of Finance as well.

The government has been criticized as always being late in responding to terrorism with the recent spate of terrorist acts in Solo, Depok and Jakarta, and that the fight against terror has been waged sporadically, with too much emphasis on repressive actions and not enough on preventative and deradicalization efforts.

But according to Neta S. Pane of the Indonesian Police Watch, such prevention and deradicalization program began after the first Bali bombings in 2002 without much success.

Athough Boediono insisted the plan was acceptable to all parties and would not reinstate dictatorial remedies of the past, Neta cited lack of coordination between the security institutions — state intelligence (BIN), National Police, anti-terrorism squad Densus 88 and the national counterterrorism agency (BNPT) — was the primary cause of the setback. He suspected that the security agencies were in fact competing with each other instead of working together to achieve the goal.

Neta said that in the last decade, 18 terrorists have been arrested, 80 killed on site and 8,833 suspected terrorists have been interrogated, which means curbing terrorism has not been carried out accordingly. He said the security apparatus had a wealth of information about terrorists cells in Indonesia, but that it did not use the information accordingly. Another factor was that these institutions are always seeking additional funds to fight terrorism.

But according to Mahfudz Siddiq, a member of House Commission I overseeing defense, the security institutions had plenty of money and were in fact competing with each other for an even larger share of the upcoming budget. Neta said that despite huge budgets from the government, the security agencies also received substantial assistance from other countries. Both Neta and Mahfudz expressed concern that terrorism was being “preserved as a project” in order to justify disbursement of state funds to the agencies concerned.

But Neta believes the larger share of the budget goes to Densus 88 and the BNPT while intelligence gets the smaller share. This is why information is sometimes kept and shelved. Retired Lt. Gen. T.B. Hasanudin, who is now a member of the House of Representatives, also criticized the quality of early warning systems possessed by intelligence nowadays. He said in the past, intelligence was far better, saying, “The whole nation countered terrorism while now only police are countering terrorism. De-radicalization programs of today are project oriented instead of focusing on intelligence.”

Pundits said the BNPT should not make hasty comments such as the idea that Muslim clerics be certified to ensure their nationalism and public acceptability. The idea was met with anger by Muslim organizations across the country. The Tebuireng Islamic Boarding School or pesantren , in Jombang, East Java, where prominent scholar Gus Dur came from, rejected the idea of certifying scholars.

Gus Dur’s brother, Salahuddin Wahid, or Gus Solah, said the idea showed that the BNPT does not understand the existence of the pesantrens and deemed it as a counterproductive measure to eradicate radicalism and terrorism in Indonesia.

Yanto Soegiarto is the managing editor of Globe Asia, a sister publication of the Jakarta Globe.