Easy assumptions no key to diabolical problem
Easy assumptions no key to diabolical problem
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Op-Ed / Asia

Easy assumptions no key to diabolical problem

As Australians and Indonesians cope with the aftermath of the Jakarta embassy bombing and think about how to prevent another one, it is important avoid a few common assumptions.

If you catch the two prime suspects, Azahari Husin and Noordin Mohammed Top, the problem is solved.

Not true. There are other JI leaders at large who also are well-trained in the use of explosives, and more importantly, who have the capacity to mobilise others, inside and outside the JI network. They include Afghan war veterans like Zulkarnaen, the head of JI's military operations; Abu Dujana, a top member of the central command structure; Dulmatin, an electronics expert; and Nu'im, head of military operations for Jakarta.

They also include a younger generation trained in Mindanao, in the Philippines, and others with more homegrown experience in Poso or Ambon.

If Thursday's bombing was anything like past operations, it would have involved several different groups of people: the main strategists; the men who obtained, transported, and stored the bomb's ingredients; the men, usually much more junior, assigned to buy the vehicle used and rent rooms for those involved; the people responsible for casing targets; the technicians to make the bomb; and the dispensable foot-soldier to detonate it.

JI has to be much stronger and more resilient than we thought to pull off an attack like this.

On the contrary, JI has been seriously weakened over the past two years. Many of its leaders are behind bars; its administrative structure, in some areas, is in disarray; its communication and supply lines have been disrupted; and it is short of cash.

But this may have increased the determination of some of the group's ideologues to show that they can still pull off an operation of this size. Individual units of JI may be acting on their own initiative, without going through a central command structure. Individual JI members may be farming out their services to other, newly formed organisations. The weakening of JI could actually make the problem more complex, at least in the short run.

It is true that JI recruitment continues, and some members seem to be preparing their own children and younger siblings to continue the family tradition. But it will be difficult to replace the experience, leadership capacity, and international contacts of the men who built the organisation over the past decade.

Indonesia hasn't been serious about terrorism.

It's unfair to the Indonesian police, who have done so much to penetrate the JI organisation and track down its members, to suggest that they haven't been serious. Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore all get high marks for law enforcement efforts.

The problem is that this issue goes beyond law enforcement. It requires a public information campaign, an analysis of ongoing recruitment efforts; policies designed to steer potential recruits in other directions; improved anti-corruption measures to stop the sale of arms, passports, and other identity cards; and much else.

It may also require tough action against a few institutions that have produced a disproportionate share of JI members, but here the Government has to be extremely careful. It has to avoid stigmatising the generally honourable Islamic school system on which millions of Indonesian students depend, and it has to avoid slipping back into a pattern of arbitrary arrests and curbs on basic freedoms that were the hallmark of the Soeharto days.

US foreign policy is the crux of the problem.

The US's one-sided support of Israel, the war in Iraq, and various aspects of the US-led war on terrorism have certainly not helped. But it is worth remembering that the first JI bombings on Indonesian soil and many thereafter were not committed in the name of avenging the deaths of Palestinians or victims of US aggression in Afghanistan or Iraq. The bombers went after one group of Indonesians that they accused of being responsible for the deaths of fellow Indonesians in Ambon.

Anti-US sentiment is at an all-time high, but ironically, it is too widespread to be a useful factor in explaining terrorist motivation. Clearly, the vast majority of angry Indonesians would never dream of using violence.

The bomb was related to Australia's election.

Until the perpetrators are arrested, we won't know their motives. But if this bombing fits the pattern of earlier ones, the embassy would have been one of several targets considered, and the selection would have been decided on the basis of both symbolic value and logistics.

The Marriott bombers looked at another hotel, the Jakarta international school, and the Australian school, and chose the Marriott because it was an American chain, and one could drive right up to the entrance. In Makassar in 2002 the bombers considered a Canadian mining company, an American-owned diving resort, a church, a McDonald's, and a car showroom owned by vice-presidential candidate Yusuf Kalla before selecting the latter two - again, partly because they were easier to get to.

Nothing in JI's past suggests its leaders paid too much attention to domestic politics, and the anniversary of September 11 may have been more of a factor than the elections. But nothing can be ruled out until the bombers are caught.

This attack could have been prevented.

Once suicide bombers are in the equation, prevention becomes a very difficult task. With the best-trained security forces, a determined government, and the most vigilant population in the world, Israel has not been able to stop such people. But we do need to understand how "martyrs" are recruited in Indonesia - because there will be more.

Op-Ed / Asia

Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force

My four year-old daughter recently came home from her Jakarta kindergarten with a story about a visit to the school from the head of our local police station. 'If there is a robber and he's running away, the policeman will pull out his gun, fire in the air, and if he doesn't stop then he will shoot him in the leg', she recounted breathlessly.

I have spent 25 years working in and around conflict zones, including more than a decade in Indonesia. My reaction might not have been that of the average parent. 'That', I replied, 'is a violation of Perkap Number 8.' Needless to say, my reference to Police Regulation Number 8 of 2009 regarding Implementation of Human Rights Principles and Standards in the Discharge of Duties of the Indonesian National Police was lost on her. She thought the visit was great.

I had recalled Perkap 8 when re-reading the Hansard of the recent sparring between Australian Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr and Victoria Greens Senator Richard Di Natale over the police shooting of protesters in Papua. But it is not just in Papua where questionable use of deadly force by the Indonesian National Police (INP) takes place. It happens across the country. And this was what Perkap 8 was put in place to prevent.

Article 47 of Perkap 8 says that 'the use of firearms shall be allowed only if strictly necessary to preserve human life' and 'firearms may only be used by officers: a. when facing extraordinary circumstances; b. for self defense against threat of death and/or serious injury; c. for the defense of others against threat of death and/or serious injury.' This is Indonesian law, taken from the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, and this is what should be used to assess police actions, wherever in the country they occur.

The fatal shooting on 14 June 2012 of Mako Tabuni, deputy head of the National Committee of West Papua (KNPB), in Jayapura, capital of Papua province, made Senate Estimates in 2012. The shooting of three protesters in Sorong on 30 April 2013, West Papua province, was mentioned in the testy 5 June 2013 exchanges between Senators Carr and Di Natale. You can watch it above.

In the first incident, detectives shot a suspect in the leg as he was running away and then left him to die in a hospital allegedly without making any effort to treat his wounds. In the second, police claim they were threatened by armed KNPB activists. Without more information it is difficult to judge if their response was disproportionate. Police always say they are shooting in self-defense, but it has become such a common excuse that it has started to lose its plausibility.

Cases outside Papua do not garner much attention in Australia, but lethal shootings happen all the time. On 1 September 2011 seven villagers were killed during a rowdy protest against police brutality in the Central Sulawesi district of Buol, a place so obscure even most Indonesians cannot find it on a map.

On 7 March 2013, soldiers burned down a police station in Baturaja, South Sumatra, after their off-duty comrade, First Private Heru Oktavianus, was shot dead by a police officer while speeding away from a traffic violation.

On 8 May 2013 police in Java killed six suspected terrorists in a series of raids. The police usually claim the suspects were armed and resisted arrest. But it is not always true, and many could have almost certainly been captured alive.

Ordinary criminals are shot with distressing frequency, as my daughter's visitor suggests, without any outcry at home or abroad.

Perkap 8 was signed by the then police chief Sutanto, a real reformer. It has not gotten very far. One foreign police officer working on a bilateral community policing program in a large metropolitan command told me he had once seen a copy of the Perkap on the chief's desk but suspected it had been disseminated no further.

Even when progressive regulations or orders are issued and disseminated, they are not always followed. In October 2012, the police chief of Papua, Tito Karnavian, former head of the anti-terrorism unit Detachment 88 (Densus 88), announced that he had banned police from using live ammunition when handling demonstrations in the region. This was progress and it was implemented for some demos, but the deaths in the Sorong case suggest live ammunition was used.

As Article 46 of Perkap 8 says, 'all officers must be trained in the use of power, equipment and firearms that can be used in applying force' and 'must be trained in non-violent techniques and methods.' Training almost 400,000 officers across 33 provinces is a logistical challenge, though it might be a good idea to start with elite units such as Densus 88 or personnel in the Papua provinces.

The new national head of the INP, about to be appointed, might breathe new life into two reforms already in place: implementation of Perkap 8 and Chief Sutanto's other landmark regulation on community policing, Perkap 7. The INP is a very hierarchical organisation that does follow firm orders from above. While its size makes complex reform difficult, its hierarchical nature makes implementing existing regulations with firm orders easier.

The first duty of the incoming INP chief, who reports directly to the president, will be to secure the 2014 elections. Making sure those deployed to safeguard this 'festival of democracy' are properly trained and equipped to use non-lethal force will be an important first step. After a new head of state is elected, he or she should consider issuing a directive that would see Perkap 8 properly implemented. The use of less deadly force could even be politically popular in some parts.

Outside help may also be needed, and this is where Australia comes in. A few decades back, the Victorian state police had a problem of using too much deadly force and created Project Beacon to try to rectify it. They changed the way they thought about the problem, overhauled training, and gave officers on the beat new tools, like pepper spray. Foreign assistance along these lines could help the INP improve performance and increase accountability. Crisis Group has long argued that the INP needs better orders, training, and equipment for the use of non-deadly force.

If the INP is to be more the service it aspires to be rather than the force it is, it needs to shed its military mindset, hold serious post-operation reviews after each fatal incident, and decrease reliance on shooting first and asking questions later, regardless of whether officers are following locally accepted standard procedure. When the time comes and the INP is ready to carry forward the reform of Perkap 8, Australia should be there to help.

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