Fri, Oct 12, 2012 - Page 9 News List

Indonesia still suffering 10 years on

A decade after Bali, Indonesian terror has taken aim at the government

By Niniek Karmini  /  AP, BALI, Indonesia

“Nobody refuses a reward in heaven, right?” he says. “But I live like I’m in a large aquarium now, [the] authorities are watching me everywhere I go, and I could not go abroad.”

A turning point for Indonesian militant groups came in 2010, when police raided an alleged paramilitary jihadi camp hidden in the mountains of Aceh Province. A crackdown followed with more than 100 suspected militants either killed or arrested.

Another alleged Bali bombings mastermind, known simply as Dulmatin, was killed in a raid. Radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir was arrested, and last year was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

That led Indonesian extremist religious leaders to order militants to change their mission. Instead of going after Westerners and American symbols they were directed to target Indonesian “infidels” such as the police, anti-terrorism squads, lawmakers and others deemed as obstacles to transforming the secular country into an Islamic state governed by Shariah law.

Most Indonesians, in a country of 240 million people, practice a moderate form of Islam that condemns violence, and the government there is keeping up pressure against extremists. Data from the Indonesian National Police revealed more than 700 militants have been arrested over the past 10 years, including 84 last year. Dozens more have been killed since the Bali bombings.

Though the number of domestic attacks has risen, suicide bombers are more likely to act alone or in smaller groups.

“I don’t think there is any one person who is the current face of terrorism in Indonesia,” said Ken Conboy, a Jakarta-based expert on Southeast Asian terrorism. “Rather, the terrorists have splintered into small cells that have only fleeting contact, if that, with one another.”

That lack of organization makes it more difficult to organise large-scale attacks.

Last year, a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a mosque packed with police, injuring 30 people, and another detonated his explosives in a church in Central Java’s Solo town, injuring 22 worshipers.

Last month, Indonesian police arrested 10 alleged Islamist militants and seized a dozen homemade bombs from a group suspected of planning suicide attacks against security forces and plotting to blow up the parliament building. The alleged bomb maker, Muhammad Toriq, turned himself in to police while wearing an empty suicide vest. The explosives seized were pipe bombs, dangerous but much less powerful than those used in Bali 10 years ago. However, other would-be suicide bombers remain at large.

In March, authorities received a tip that at least one jihadist groom had arrived in Bali. They found a note that he wrote to his family, saying he would carry out a suicide mission and that the family would be reunited in paradise, said Ansyaad Mbai, who heads Indonesia’s anti-terrorism agency.

Security forces killed five suspects who were believed to be plotting a series of armed robberies in Bali to fund their terrorist activities. The groom himself escaped, and it is unclear what attack he had planned or whether he will still attempt it.

Additional reporting by Staff writer

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