Security Forces

Feb 26th, 2007, in News, Opinion, by

Whose side are the security forces on? asks Ross.

An interesting article appeared in the Jakarta Post on 27th January, written by no less than the former boss of the BIN, the National Intelligence Bureau, Indonesia’s answer to MI5.

Mr. A.M. Hendropriyono tells us that he was already familiar with the 29 characters on the ‘most wanted list’ issued by the security forces in Poso a long time ago. The eye of the storm of sectarian violence has been in the headlines a lot recently but evidently intelligence agencies in Jakarta could have saved themselves a lot of trouble -and perhaps several lives also – had they been prepared to act on what was known some time ago.


The BIN boss (retired) says that he gave fulsome information to the police in 2001 but they did not believe him. Now if I handed the cops a list of names, they’d be entitled to doubt my credibility, but the chief of their own country’s intelligence network? Something’s not right here!

The information in his article may be old but is nevertheless startling, not least that understated paragraph where he states that Jemaah Islamiyah in Poso not only has a military wing (the terrorists currently being hunted) but also a political wing. This, he says

has been fighting alongside certain hard-line groups, mass organisations, and individual politicians, in the executive, legislative and judicial bodies.

In other words, sections of the local establishment are tied in with the murder gangs!

The foreign involvement is detailed too, Mr.H says the two terrorists shot dead recently were trained in Afghanistan, Santoso, aka Ryan and Mahmoud, aka Uday.

He says the aim of the terrorists is to set up a Taliban regime here in Indonesia and that they have been trained by “suspected” foreign infiltrators linked to J.I. and Al Qaeda. He asserts he is in possession of classified documents that prove this. He does not shrink from naming the key bad guys who arrived from abroad to interfere in Indonesia’s internal affairs, viz. Seyam Reda, who is apparently a German citizen involved in the financing of the Bali bombings (about time Germany tightened up its immigration laws, maybe!) as well as Omer Faroukh, Abu Dagdag, and Umar Bendal.

All this is fascinating enough, but raises real questions of who is on whose side. It evokes memories of the way Laskar Jihad terror gangs were allowed to operate in Maluku some years ago. There have been reports that Gus Dur’s presidential orders to interdict those vicious thugs were flouted, but nobody has been brought to book for such insubordinate and irresponsible behaviour.

If part of the security forces is not with us, then the logical corollary is that they are against us – and I can distinctly remember a photograph in the Jakarta Post five years or so ago, which clearly showed police at Surabaya harbour welcoming those Laskar louts back from their spree of sectarian violence in the Moluccas.

I thought at the time that it was as if British policeman had stood around smiling and clapping as IRA terrorists disembarked from the Liverpool ferry. Unthinkable, in any sane world. Those cops in Surabaya should have been dishonourably discharged the very next morning.

And what about the cops who did nothing while Ahmadiyah dissenters were chased out of their homes by ignorant fanatics in Lombok? Plenty of the perpetrators were captured on news cameras. But have they been rounded up and sent down with a salutary sentence for their cowardly attack on harmless neighbours?

Personally, I always wonder whose side some of these goons in uniform are on. The torments inflicted on Acehnese civilians during the Megawati years (she who pledged that during her watch, not one drop of blood would fall on Acehnese soil), rapist troops given derisory sentences; surely such tactics were calculated to stiffen separatist feelings, not stop them.

The unleashing of animals like Laskar Jihad on innocent Christian peasants must have been aimed at inflaming separatist tendencies in Maluku. And the evidence from BIN’s Mr. Hendropriyono on the subversives ranked high in politics and the law in Sulawesi indicates that counter-terrorism is handicapped by at the very least a lack of the will to win.

It has also been reported, more than once, that the Laskar Jihad is on the loose in Papua. Whose hidden hand is it that permits known trouble-makers (and I use the mildest word I can think of) to navigate freely in troubled waters?

Or are we left to conclude that much of the security apparatus is plain stupid? I doubt that.

I ask all these questions not as a provocation but because I really have no way of knowing the answers. You may say, and many will, that it is none of our business as foreigners to stick our noses into these matters, but the fact is that jihadist bombs don’t discriminate between expats and locals.

Those of us who have lived here for years have Indonesians we care about very deeply. We wouldn’t stay if we didn’t like Indonesia, despite the many frustrations we complain about in our day-to-day routines.

And if the J.I. has its way, it won’t stop at persecuting us “foreign devils”. Its agenda is to drag Indonesia back to the Dark Ages. It will make the lives of every citizen a misery, as their soul-mates in Afghanistan did there before they were put out of business by decent Afghans supported by friends from the West.

The Jakarta Post on 16th January quoted Ahmad Syafi Masrif, of Yogya University, as saying that “pluralism in Indonesia is deep-rooted and will last a long time”.

And it has, so far, because it has been Indonesians working out their own ways of getting along. It is in danger of breaking down solely because of outside influences. And those influences don’t come from the wicked West, which believe me has its faults, which I could go on about at length, but from the poisonous perversions of Islam that are roiling away in Osama’s fevered brain and those many acolytes in the Middle East. And yes, I’ve visited the Arab world and met and liked many people there too. I’ve defended the Palestinians in public debate, and feel they have been gravely wronged by the West. But I pity the way their sufferings are exploited by the fanatics.

Ross McKay.

12 Comments on “Security Forces”

  1. John Orford says:

    Perhaps it’s due to a lack of good governance (as is the case in much of Indonesian bureaucracy) rather than there being some concerted effort and hidden hands behind these terrible acts.

    Poor governance leads to suffering from unemployment, floods, post tsunami deaths, airplane crashes and terrorist and army atrocities.

    Again, maybe I am too naive. Hopefully further organic strengthening of democracy and improving governance will slowly improve these things.

  2. Tomaculum says:

    Simply thought:
    1. to which religion the majority of the (low grade) policemen belong?
    2. to which social background they belong?
    3. how do the higher and high grade officers in this groups think?
    4. is it different in the army?
    Maybe we then know the answer?

  3. Mohammed Khafi says:

    I doubt that anything in Indonesia can be taken at face value, it is all ‘smoke and mirrors’. The mystics, magicians and puppet masters who control our country do it only for their own benefit. They are all wearing masks and costumes to hide their true identities.

    The only inviolable rule in Indonesia, “He who has the power makes the rules”.


  4. Colson says:

    Security forces almost by definition strive for discretion of decision. They tend to have their own objectives, their own policies and their own “dangerous liaisons” ( didn’t the CIA promote the Taliban in th eighties?). The weaker their state, the stronger their tendency to get out of control.

    The Indonesian democracy has not yet reached maturity, the checks and balances are far from complete and so the military, the police and especially the intelligence services keep on being a liability.

  5. Matahari says:

    Indonesia has a long history of having the trouble to run the country from the first President Soekarno up to the present one, perhaps the time is coming for Indonesians to think of having to hire a President from the west.

  6. John Orford says:

    “perhaps the time is coming for Indonesians to think of having to hire a President from the west”

    I hear Bush II will be available from next year on.

  7. Robert says:


    I hear Bush II will be available from next year on.

    Well I think Bush might get a bit of a hostile reception in Indonesia. Some people might want to turn him into a new Indonesian dish: Sate Bush.



    perhaps the time is coming for Indonesians to think of having to hire a President from the west.

    It doesn’t matter where you get the president from. As long as the invidual policemen and other security forces have their own religion driven agenda, and don’t do what they are supposed to do, every president will fail in establishing a long term period of rest.

  8. Matahari says:

    I was only pulling everybody’s legs, what I was trying to say is: if they want the country to be moving forward like the developed countries then perhaps they need to start to think and act (positives ones) like people in developed country, most of the institutions in Indonesia, government or non government organisations including religion organisations are based on collusion and nepotism, they are the perfect ingredients to produce corruption but seriously Indonesia has serious problems of running the country, they need serious help, there are lots of chronic deseases in the Indonesian government.

    Btw, I am Indonesian who left Indonesia almost 10 years ago, had enough, basically!

    P.S. John, I heard Tony Blair will be handed his resignation in the middle of this year, so there you go, there are two top men will be available for hire.

  9. Robert says:


    I got your point. I am just wondering if there will ever be a president who can solve Indonesia’s immense problems. There are just too much problems and disasters (natural and manmade) happening at the same time and in all layers of society.
    You can bring in all the foreign presidents you want, but they won’t get better results.

    Lots of your fellow Indonesians have done the same and will follow the same path you did. It is a sad thing when people who want to pursue a better life have to leave their home country.

  10. Cukurungan says:

    According to “holy man and holy woman” in this forum, it was sounded that Indonesia is a hell land for the wrong people and wrong society while in the advanced country is a heaven where good people and good society are growing and living. But please take a look at the real facts, is the suicide rates in Indo highest or are crimes, murder and rape rates in Indonesia highest in the world’s? Why I dragged to these matters because if in the advanced country are described so nice place and so perfect why their people are not happy and their suicide is high and crime rates even in some advanced country higher than Indonesia’s rate. Yes our country has many problems but we are a young country with a not mature society however our country is not as bad as Columbia, Bolivia, Srilangka and Brasil where gang war is on their daily menu.

    Yes we have no.1 corrup gov, flooding, traffic jams and some crimes but if you are a bit smart you can enjoy your life here with very little cost so why many “bule tua” want to live here in their remaining ages but our government isn’t smart enough to smell these cakes.

  11. Ivan Rizki says:

    All those thugs with the so called “faith defender” like laskar jihad, front pembela islam are backed by the Indonesia military, recently I read a book “Allah Torch” by Tracy Dahlby that the military use these thugs to stir and create chaos in Indonesia daily life. After the downfall of soeharto the military loosing their grip and influence in order to have their power back in politics is to use thugs as they are the mother of all thugs.

    Ivan Rizki

  12. Chas Caldwell says:

    Are there any non Muslim generals serving in the TNI at the moment?

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