Radicalism and National Security

Dec 30th, 2005, in News, by

A speech by an Indonesian police chief on radicalism and national security.

This is an edited transcript of a speech by the Indonesian national police chief, presented at an international conference on extremist Islam, security issues and economic activities in Indonesia, held on Dec. 7, 2005 at the Borobudur Hotel in Jakarta.

Although radicalism is alien to the character of various religions in Indonesia, practices of radicalism are not alien in Indonesia’s history. In terms of national security strategies, there were occasions in which the country’s national security was declared to be under the threats stemming from the radicalism of right-wing and left-wing extremists. The right-wing extremists refer to the groups of a particular religion while the left-wing extremists are associated with communist groups.

Radicalism has also been employed in various rebellions and separatist efforts recorded throughout the existence of the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia, such as the radicalism of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in Madiun, the DI/TII (Darul Islam/Indonesian Islamic Army) in West Java and DI/TII in Aceh.

Considering the bomb cases in the past five years, we can clearly see that most of these terrorist acts were linked with or committed in the name of religion. This rapid development of terrorist acts committed by these terrorist groups is inseparable from the global development of terrorist acts in the world.

In terms of quality, in the sense of how the bomb is exploded, the terrorists have now opted for the method of suicide bombings, claimed to be committed in the name of jihad, or the waging of a holy war.

This change in method has certainly led to a higher level of danger as it may claim more lives and cause greater damage.

This method is really new and is believed to be copied from the way adopted by the Palestinian freedom fighters, who are quite different from the groups of terrorists in Indonesia in terms of the struggle they are involved in.

At this point, we may pose a rather difficult question: What actually motivated the suicide bombings in the first Bali bombing case, at the JW Marriott Hotel, in front of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta and the second Bali bombing case?

Many of the victims were Indonesians, most of those were Muslims. Will these suicide bombing cases not be a paradox in themselves if they and their impacts are associated with the holy war waged by Muslims?

In this context, it is really very difficult for us to digest the video statements made by the perpetrators of the suicide bombings in the second Bali bombing case about their great conviction that they would die a Muslim martyr in a holy war. This indoctrination must have been fed to them by the masterminds of the bombing case to brainwash them in such a way that they were ready to carry out a suicide bombing. This condition also reminds us of the level of danger that we may still face because it is very likely that there is now a new group of suicide bombers already similarly brainwashed.

In the context of security, certainly this discussion will be given more focus on various matters related to radical acts in the form of terrorism inasmuch as quite a lot of attention is now paid to terrorism at home. A close study of terrorism at home will undeniably show that various bomb cases occurring in Indonesia have exerted a highly adverse impact on security and development efforts.

Indeed, security is not the main factor contributing to Indonesia’s economic depression, but various terrorist acts are believed to have created an impression of insecurity, the effect of which will not be conducive to improvements in the country’s investment and tourism climate.

There are also groups that, although they do not resort to radical or extreme violence or bomb terror, their actions, to a certain extent, have an impact on security too. For many Indonesians, things like damaging karaoke bars and other entertainment centers may not quite affect their daily routines in general, but expatriates living in Indonesia and foreign countries may not have a similar perception like the Indonesians.

Quite spectacular bomb cases in several places such as the first and second Bali bombing cases or the bomb cases at the JW Marriott Hotel and in front of the Australian Embassy were the climaxes of terrorist acts that led to a great alarm over Indonesia’s security. If the masterminds of these bomb cases have intended these terrorist acts to be — a retaliation — against the attitudes and policies adopted by the United States and other Western countries, which are believed to disadvantage Muslims, they must have missed the target because the victims were innocent people, in no way linked with these policies.

Thanks should go to the police officers that have nabbed most of the perpetrators. Many of them have been taken to court and sentenced.

The antiterror unit and all the other units of the police have been doing their utmost to free the country from terrorism. Despite the praise given to the achievement of the police in combating terrorism, the police still hope that efforts to minimize terrorism should not be viewed as the sole responsibility of the police. Various dimensions in national problems outside the area of responsibility of the police and also global problems are believed to also have contributed to terrorism.

It should be noted that, given the generally unfavorable condition of the nation at present, the police are facing no small challenges. Political interests that have gained prominence in the present era of reform sometimes also lead to various kinds of difficulty in publicizing the danger of terrorism and in encouraging the public to participate in dealing with terrorism.

In view of the magnitude of the threat and the potential losses that terrorist acts, in particular, and other radical acts, in general, carry with them (without linking them with religion), our efforts to deal with terrorism should not be confined to removing only the symptoms.

In our experience in dealing with terrorism so far, the impression is that the police have only removed the tip of the iceberg without ever touching the part below the surface, which will of course surface once the tip is removed, simply because there are various dimensions of the problems at hand that prevent this part below the surface from ever being touched at all.

We must reconsider some laws and regulations to prevent and overcome terrorism, while maintaining human rights in order to better guarantee the protection of the nation against terrorist acts.

We need to create global responsibility for the establishment of a world order based on democracy, justice, mutual respect and the exercise of human rights. In this way, it is expected that there will no longer be any feeling of being oppressed, a condition usually serving as a breeding ground for radicalism.

We must participate, as a government, in nurturing the development of tolerance in religious life.

We should publicize various problems in an effort to prevent the development of radicalism and various anti-social acts so that the solutions to these problems can be found, and that would include minimizing various unhealthy social conditions that may trigger the growth of radicalism.

We need to develop a condition that will oppose all forms of interpretation of religious teachings to justify terrorism or radical actions.

We must mobilize the nation to participate in and resist acts of radicalism that harm this society, especially those leaning towards terrorist acts that are obviously counter-productive to the nation’s great endeavor to improve the well-being of all.

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