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Jemaah Islamiyah in South East Asia: Damaged but Still Dangerous
Jemaah Islamiyah in South East Asia: Damaged but Still Dangerous
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Report 63 / Asia

Jemaah Islamiyah in South East Asia: Damaged but Still Dangerous

Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the South East Asian terrorist organisation based in Indonesia, remains active and dangerous, despite the mid-August 2003 arrest of Hambali, one of its top operatives.

Executive Summary

Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the South East Asian terrorist organisation based in Indonesia, remains active and dangerous, despite the mid-August 2003 arrest of Hambali, one of its top operatives.

Though more than 200 men linked or suspected of links to it are now in custody in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, JI is far from destroyed. Indonesian police and their international counterparts have succeeded in seriously damaging the network, but the bombing of the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta on 5 August provided clear evidence that the organisation remains capable of planning and executing a major operation in a large urban centre.

The information emerging from the interrogation of JI suspects indicates that this is a bigger organisation than previously thought, with a depth of leadership that gives it a regenerative capacity. It has communication with and has received funding from al-Qaeda, but it is very much independent and takes most, if not all operational decisions locally.

New information suggests that JI was deliberately set up as a military organisation and that the division into units known as mantiqis and wakalahs – originally defined as districts and subdistricts – was actually a territorial command structure of brigades, battalions, companies, platoons, and squads.

All senior members of the central command trained in Afghanistan in the late 1980s and early 1990s, before JI formally existed. It was in the camps of the Saudi-financed Afghan mujahidin leader Abdul Rasul Sayyaf that they developed jihadist fervour, international contacts, and deadly skills.

Afghanistan veterans became the trainers of a new generation of mujahidin when JI set up a camp in Mindanao from 1996 to 2000 in a reciprocal arrangement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The recruits trained in everything from explosives to sharp-shooting and included not only JI members but also members of like-minded jihadist organisations from other parts of Indonesia, especially South Sulawesi and West Java. This means that Indonesia has to worry about other organisations as well, whose members have equally lethal skills but do not operate under the JI command structure. This background report describes the emergence of one such organisation in South Sulawesi that was responsible for the bombing of a McDonald’s restaurant and a car showroom in Makassar in December 2002.

The JI network is held together not just by ideology and training but also by an intricate network of marriages that at times makes it seems like a giant extended family. Insufficient attention has been paid to the role the women of JI play in cementing the network. In many cases, senior JI leaders arranged the marriages of their subordinates to their own sisters or sisters-in-law to keep the network secure.

JI also depends on a small circle of pesantrens – Muslim boarding schools – to propagate jihadist teachings. Of the more than 14,000 such schools in Indonesia, only a tiny number are committed to jihadist principles, but there is a kind of JI “Ivy League” to which JI members send their own children. Chief among these is Pesantren al-Mukmin, better known as Pondok Ngruki, whose founder, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, is believed to have been JI’s amir or top leader between late 1999 and 2002.

JI thus remains dangerous. The arrests of Hambali and others surely have weakened its ability to operate, and the Indonesian police and their international counterparts have made major progress in hunting down its members. But this is an organisation spread across a huge archipelago, whose members probably number in the thousands. No single individual is indispensable.

The one piece of good news is that there are some indications that internal dissent is building within JI. Members are said to be unhappy with recent choices of targets, including the Marriott hotel bombing that killed mostly Indonesian workers. There is disagreement about the appropriate focus for jihad and over the use of a practice known as fa’i – robbery of non-Muslims to support Islamic struggle. Internal dissent has destroyed more than one radical group, but in the short term, we are likely to see more JI attacks.

Jakarta/Brussels, 26 August 2003

Op-Ed / Asia

Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force

Originally published in The Interpreter

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.