IBRAHIM ISAS FOCUS * * *
HOW INDONESIA REACTS ON BIN LADEN'S DEATH, Thursday, 05 May 2011
IMPLICATIONS OF BIN LADENS DEATH FOR INDONESIA
Sidney Jones, Jakarta | Wed, 05/04/2011
Osama bin Laden is being hailed as a hero and martyr by radical groups around the country, with the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) holding a program of “gratitude for service” later today at its headquarters. Demonstrations against the US by other groups are planned. The question is whether there will be more serious consequences, and three come to mind.
One: a temporary shift back to foreign targets. For the last two years, Indonesian extremists have moved away from attacks on the West, symbolized by iconic brand names of American hotels and fast food chains, to hits and attempted hits on local targets, especially the police.
This was a direct result of anger at Detachment 88 for arresting and killing so many mujahidin after a training camp in Aceh was broken up in February 2010, but it also reflected recognition that international targets had no general recruitment value: Few Indonesians saw the logic of killing foreign civilians to avenge Muslim deaths in Iraq
Bin Laden was such a powerful symbol and so revered in the extremist community, however, that calculations of costs and benefits may be overridden by a felt need to respond somehow to his death. The ubiquitous television images of cheering Americans may strengthen that resolve.
As we wrote in a Crisis Group report last month: “No one should conclude that targeting of foreigners is gone for good. One lesson from this report is that there is a constant process of adaptation, and developments in the Middle East and Pakistan, as well as within Indonesia, could produce new strategic directions.” Bin Laden’s death could be one of those developments.
Two: possibility of revenge attacks. While the possibility of revenge attacks is real, it is not a simple matter to pull them off. Planning an attack takes time, so the danger is less likely to be in the coming days than in the coming months or longer, giving police more time to get wind of a plot. Indonesian extremists also do not have a successful track record in this regard.
Police operations in Poso, Central Sulawesi, in January 2007 killed 14 local fighters and led to demands within the movement for retaliation, but no group had the capacity to respond. The execution of the Bali bombers in November 2008 led to massive demonstrations at their funerals, but no counter-attacks, despite widespread fears.
The fastest retaliation thus far was the Sept. 22, 2010, attack on the Hamparan Perak Police station, North Sumatra, in which three policemen were killed.
It came only three days after police killed three suspects they were hunting for the Medan bank robbery. But the fugitives already had arms, motive, target and opportunity. Putting all that together for a response to Bin Laden’s death may not be so easy.
While that may be somewhat reassuring, it is also true that there are five or six constellations of possible perpetrators, and only one of them needs to be successful.
Three: Strengthened attachment to al-Qaeda. Another possible consequence of Bin Laden’s death is a strengthened attachment of Indonesian extremists to al-Qaeda, both to the idea and to specific parts of the network.
A succession of Southeast Asia extremists have tried to set up local affiliates of al-Qaeda, based more on shared ideology than direct institutional linkage. At the time of the second Bali bombing, Noordin M Top called his group al-Qaeda for the Malay Archipelago.
By 2009 and the Jakarta hotel bombings, he was calling it al-Qaeda for Southeast Asia, even though a Malaysian named Mohamad Fadzullah Abdul Razak (since arrested) was using the same time a year earlier for a completely different group that wanted to send fighters from Malaysia to southern Thailand.
In early 2010, the alliances of extremists that set up the camp in Aceh began calling itself al-Qaeda for the Verandah of Mecca, a common term for Aceh.
By the admission of one participant, the name was in recognition of Bin Laden’s leadership of the global jihad rather than anything more concrete. Finally, only a few days ago, a statement appeared on radical websites here, again in the name of al-Qaeda for Southeast Asia, praising the April 15 suicide bombing at a police station mosque in Cirebon, West Java.
Obviously the idea of al-Qaeda still resonates, to the point that most self-respecting jihadi groups want to identify with it.
But there are also more substantial links. On Jan. 25 this year, Umar Patek was arrested in Abbottabad, the same town where Bin Laden was living. It was probably not a coincidence (indeed, may have been part of the same operation).
Indonesian authorities need to be asking Patek, who remains in detention in Pakistan, exactly what the nature of his communication was with the al-Qaeda organization and who else from Southeast Asia is actively working with al-Qaeda in propaganda, training, or even operations.
In his desire to work with Bin Laden, Patek, a former Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) member who was one of the original Bali bombers, follows in the footsteps of Hambali, the JI leader detained in Guantanamo whose relationship with al-Qaeda until his arrest in 2003 is outlined in a recent WikiLeaks document.
But he is not the only one. Muhammad Jibril, founder of the ar-Rahmah publishing company and arrahmah.com, was in regular communication with al-Qaeda’s media outlet in Waziristan.
And other parts of the radical network in Indonesia are in communication with the radical Yemen-based preacher, al-Awlaki, who is active in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The death of Bin Laden could lead to a renewed push to bolster these ties or to an intensified propaganda campaign based on al-Qaeda materials, especially from AQAP, translated into Indonesian.
There is thus no reason to believe that the security situation in Indonesian has in any way been significantly improved by the killing of al-Qaeda’s founder.
The good news, if there is any, is that none of the groups that have emerged over the last two years have shown the kind of technical capacity that Noordin M Top used to such devastating effect. No one, however, should be celebrating the end of terrorism in Indonesia.
The writer is senior adviser at the International Crisis Group.
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WHAT THE DEATH OF OSAMA BIN LADEN MEANS
The Jakarta Post | Thu, 05/05/2011
As I watched US President Barack Obama announcing the death of Osama bin Laden with his body buried at sea after Saudi Arabia refused to accept it, I posted my reactions through my Twitter account.
“An ideology is hard to kill with the death of its advocates like Bin Laden, but his death can help reduce his global leadership.”
I tweeted further: “Osama and many terrorists have used Islam to sustain their ideologies and actions, but they don’t represent around 1 billion Muslims in the world.”
However, the death has meant different things to different people around the globe. Many in the US and elsewhere have welcomed and celebrated Bin Laden’s demise as a victory over the leader of number-one terrorist network al-Qaeda.
Obama thinks “we can all agree this is a good day for America”. Obama and Hillary Clinton pointed out that “justice has been served” for the victims of 9/11 in particular, and Americans in general. Many say “the world is now safer”.
American Muslim leaders, including that of CAIR (Council of American-Islamic Relations) welcome the death, because “Osama was a mass murderer”.
Muslim Senator Keith Ellison said Bin Laden was responsible for mass killings in the US, Pakistan, Iraq, Kenya, Tanzania and more, and had caused fear and suffering for many.
Some in the US have expressed their ambivalence toward the death: The killing of a man without trial is clearly not correct for them. Some would expect Bin Laden to have been captured alive.
Some, including self-proclaimed Christians, said “they do not rejoice the death of a human being, no matter how monstrous he was”.
“Judgment and punishment are up to God,” Christian author James Martin wrote. Although he prays that Bin Laden’s departure may lead to peace, as a Christian, he is asked to pray for Bin Laden and at some point forgive him, a command that comes from Jesus.
In Indonesia, when people are preoccupied with domestic problems, including how to deal with the spread of the Negara Islam Indonesia (NII, the Indonesian Islamic State) ideology, including in schools and colleges, mixed responses have been voiced in the media: Many have welcomed the death, whereas others, including the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) moderate leader Said Aqil Siradj implicitly welcomed it but added that the Allied Forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Libya could also be regarded as terrorists, radicals and uncivilized.
The US, he implied, should not demonstrate double standards, but serve justice in dealing with terrorism.
Some Islamist leaders have said Bin Laden’s death will not eliminate al-Qaeda. Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) president Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq said the death would have no direct impact in Indonesia because none
of Bin Laden’s family has investments here.
He added that violence came from injustice and poverty, so violence would not stop if justice and prosperity were absent.
Another PKS leader commented that al-Qaeda was based on an ideology and had a developed organization and recruitment system and therefore terrorism remained a threat.
Some liberal progressive activists commented that it would be better if Bin Laden were captured alive so he could stand trial and people could hear what he had to say.
Progressive activists commented only a little. One simply observed that when a friend is killed the loss is mourned, but when an enemy is killed, it is rejoiced.
They seem to agree with an analyst that the loss of a symbolic, semi-charismatic leader whose own survival burnished his legend was significant, but that radicalism and violence were not about to end.
Many questions have been raised, including about the future of terrorist ideology: Will terrorism decline? Will the death of Osama bin Laden bring a new world order? How should the world leaders address the root causes of terrorism and reduce its spread in many parts of the world, including Indonesia?
The fatwas or edicts reportedly from Bin Laden have been read and translated into many languages. The edicts issued in 1996, 1998, 2004 and later years contained a global call to war waged against the US and mention some of the reasons for Bin Laden’s ideology of terror: Because of the US presence in the holy sites Mecca and Medina, the unqualified US support of Israel and of the US attacks on Iraq and other “Muslim soil”.
Bin Laden urges the Muslim world to kill American crusaders and Jews, combatants and civilians as well as whoever is in support of them.
For those who show support or sympathy, Bin Laden constitutes a symbol of resistance against the US power. Some observers like Middle Eastern historian Bernard Lewis have argued that Bin Laden was a model for anti-globalization, anti-Westernization and anti-modernism.
Other scholars comment that terrorists as fundamentalists have lived as by-product of modernity.
But the appeal of Bin Laden cannot be overstated because many fatwas were issued to reject such calls. Most Muslims have rejected terrorism, the killing of civilians and the use of violence.
The struggle and discursive debate among Muslim leaders and groups have intensified between those who agree with the ideas but not the violent tactics; those who reject violence and terrorism without qualification; those who sympathize with terrorists and those who commit similar acts of terror in London, Bombay, Manila, Bali, Jakarta and other places.
A survey conducted by Pew Research Center on Muslim publics around the world a few months prior to Bin Laden’s death indicates little support for the al-Qaeda leader. In the Palestinian territories, which he used as rationale for his war, only 34 percent expressed confidence in him to do the right thing in world affairs.
In 2011, about 26 percent of Indonesians supported Bin Laden, compared to 22 percent of Egyptians and 13 percent of Jordanians. These numbers dropped from the figures in 2003 and 2005. This explains why there have been fewer reactions to Bin Laden’s death in the Muslim world than in the US.
Now that Bin Laden has been officially confirmed dead, some people have remained concerned about the perpetration of his ideology.
Others have raised more ethical, philosophical questions about just war, patriotism based on killing, the value of human beings, violence to end violence, soft power and hard power, and the like. Others have pointed to addressing the root causes of terrorism and its circumstances.
The death of a world terrorist seems to have been welcomed by many, albeit in different ways, but this is not sufficient to make this complex world a safer place to live.
The writer is an assistant professor in Islamic studies, Religious Studies Department, University of California, Riverside. * * *
SECURITY BEEFED UP IN BALI
The Jakarta Post | Wed, 05/04/2011
Ni Komang Erviani
Security check: Police officers stop a truck in Cipinang Muara, East Jakarta, and check its contents for contraband such as drugs and firearms. Police throughout Indonesia have beefed up security in anticipation of possible terror attacks in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death in Pakistan. JP/P.J. Leo
Security in Bali has been heightened for the visit by the US warship USS Guardian at Benoa Harbor on Tuesday to thwart possible retaliation by al-Qaeda followers after the death of Osama bin Laden.
Three Balinese dancers welcomed ship commander Lt. Kenneth Brown and his 84-strong crew with the traditional Penyembrahma dance under the close watch of the Indonesian Navy and police.
Capt. Adrian J. Jansen, Naval Attache at the US Embassy in Jakarta, said the five-day visit was part of a diplomatic journey across Indonesia. Last April, the Guardian docked in Makassar, South Sulawesi.
“After we finish our visit in Bali, the ship will go to Surabaya for training exercises with the Indonesian Navy,” Jansen said.
He added that while in Bali, the ship’s crew would conduct various outreach programs.
“We may visit a few high schools in Bali and talk to Indonesian students about life in America, and answer any question they may have,” Jansen said.
The crew, he added, would also get to enjoy Bali. “It is a chance to see how beautiful the island is, and a chance to meet some of the great people here in Bali,” he added.
Col. I Wayan Suarjaya, the Indonesian Navy commander in Bali, said he expected the arrival of the US Navy vessel would mark stronger relations between the US Navy and its Indonesian counterpart. However, he was quick to add that the visit was not related to efforts to counter terrorist threats on the island.
Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika earlier ordered security be increased at key entry points to the island, tourist destinations, hotels, entertainment centers and other public places in anticipation of possible terrorist attacks following the news of the death of Bin Laden on Sunday.
“Bali has always been a target for terrorist threats as thousands of foreign and local visitors holiday here,” Pastika said.
Bali Police deployed 8,000 officers to safeguard the island since the Easter holidays.
“We are still on very high alert,” police spokesman Sr. Com Sri Harmiti said.
In Jakarta on Tuesday, presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said that “in the context of universal security we have to guarantee the safety of the community, not necessarily in response to [the death of Bin Laden]”.
“Security officers are conducting their duty well to safeguard public places or other locations considered to be prone to terrorist attacks,” he added.
In Yogyakarta, police have also been on high alert to anticipate any possible retaliation by al-Qaeda followers. Two-thirds of the police force in the city have been deployed to safeguard areas such as tourist sites.
Indonesia: Terror suspect went to meet bin Laden
Niniek Karmini, The Associated Press, Jakarta | Wed, 05/04/2011
A top Indonesian terror suspect arrested this year in the Pakistani town where Osama bin Laden was killed was intending to meet the al-Qaida chief, officials here say, raising questions over how isolated bin Laden was in his final months.
Indonesian and Pakistani intelligence officers said the arrest of Umar Patek on Jan. 25 in Abbottabad by Pakistani officers did not lead to the American raid on bin Laden on Monday and the two men did not meet.
A senior American counterterrorism official said Patek's arrest in Abbottabad "appears to have been pure coincidence" and also said they did not meet.
Patek is wanted for his role in the 2002 Bali bombings and trained with al-Qaida in Pakistan before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. He is a key Southeast Asian militant and was one of the last on the run believed to have contacts with al-Qaida's central command.
"The information we have is that Umar Patek ... was in Pakistan with his Filipino wife trying to meet Osama Bin Laden," Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro told reporters Wednesday.
Chairul Akbar, an official at Indonesia's Anti-Terrorism Agency, earlier told the Associated Press that Patek and his wife traveled to Pakistan using false names - Anis Alawi Jaafar and Fatima Zahra - on August 30, 2010, aiming to meet Osama Bin Laden to get his "support and protection."
"He was instructed to go to Abbottabad to meet other militants," Akbar said.
Akbar said it was possible that Patek met al-Qaida leaders in January somewhere in Pakistan but that he did not meet with bin Laden himself.
Many intelligence officials had assumed bin Laden was living in the remote Afghan border region, possibly in a cave, meeting only with a small trusted circle. While its possible that Patek may have been misguided if he thought he could meet bin Laden, the fact he ended up in the same town as him with that intention is striking, and could suggest someone told him bin Laden was there and was prepared to see him.
Pakistani officials kept Patek's arrest under wraps until late March, when the AP broke the news.
A Pakistani official said he was tracked down after authorities arrested an al-Qaida courier in the town called Tahir Shehzad, who worked as a clerk at the post office. Tahir had been under surveillance since last year when he was spotted in Abbottabad with an Arab terror suspect, said the intelligence official.
"Indonesian authorities need to be asking Patek exactly what the nature of his communication was with the al-Qaida organization and who else from Southeast Asia is actively working with al-Qaida in propaganda, training, or even operations," said Sidney Jones, an expert on Southeast Asian militancy.
Muhammad Jibriel, an Indonesian currently serving time in Jakarta over hotel bombings in 2009. was found guilty of obtaining funding for the bombings while visiting Saudi Arabia in 2008. By his own admission, he also traveled to North Waziristan before his arrest.
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