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The Jakarta Post
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Preventive antiterrorism measures on back burner

  • Rendi A. Witular

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Mon, August 9 2010 | 10:10 am

Fears of discrediting Muslims and beliefs that terrorism here is a product of a conspiracy against Islam is one major hurdle of preventive antiterrorism measures, an official said.

Requesting anonymity, the source at the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister’s Office recently  expressed frustration over the revision of the antiterrorism law that he said was urgently needed to help address the root causes of radicalism and terrorism.

He criticized the mindset of colleagues at other ministries who he said largely believed terrorism in Indonesia was a product of a conspiracy designed by the West to counter the rise of Islam.

“Officials involved in the revision often see such efforts as intensified attempts to discredit Islam. This kind of mindset, coupled with weak leadership, has held back all concerted efforts to implement antiterrorism measures,” the official said.

In the wake of the first Bali bombings, the National Police said the terrorist activity “involved” a local organization, Jamaah Islamiyah,  while officials  and others were in denial of home-grown terrorism.

Despite at least eight major terrorist attacks since the deadly 2002 Bali bombing, and a growing trend of sectarian radicalism, antiterrorism efforts are still regulated by a 2003 Antiterrorism Law that focuses more on police crackdowns than on prevention.

Analysts and law enforcers have criticized the law as lacking the  legal infrastructure to bring to justice terrorist masterminds and financiers, and religious leaders for inciting hatred and violence that sow the seeds of terrorism.

A plan to revise the law has been on the table since the attack at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in September 2004.

The head of the Antiterrorism Desk at the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Ministry, Ansyaad Mbai, could not deny nor confirm allegations that the revision faced stiff opposition from Muslim officials and bureaucrats at various ministries.

He said political aspects of the antiterrorism drive were full of twists and turns, given the fact that Indonesia was the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

“The international community sees terrorism here as a grave concern, but most of us don’t see it that way,” said Ansyaad.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto said the only hurdles to the revision were to ensure antiterrorism measures would not violate human rights.

“Certainly it’s not the bureaucrats that are holding it up. We have to get input from activists that the new law will not jeopardize democracy and human rights.”

The revision was initiated by the police with help from the Antiterrorism Desk. The revision was proposed to the Justice and Human Rights Ministry under the watch of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister’s Office.

Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar said the draft was “still in progress”.

“What’s the rush?” Patrialis said, refusing to confirm whether he was satisfied with the revision. He also denied allegations his officials were to blame for stalling the revision.

As a former legislator for the Islam-based National Mandate Party (PAN), Patrialis was among lawmakers who stormed the National Police headquarters in 2005 to demand police drop all charges against hard-line cleric Abu Jibril after a small explosion in front of his house in Pamulang, South Tangerang.

The police claimed the device was similar to those used in sectarian conflicts in Poso between 1998 and 2000.

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