Bali sets up counter-terrorism forum
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Bali has set up a Coordination Forum for the Prevention of Terrorism (FKPT), a special forum tasked with preventing the propagation of radical ideas closely associated with terrorism by designing and launching a deradicalization program.
The forum was needed as the island remained a major target for terrorism, a senior official stated.
“Bali is a primary target for terrorism, as the island is a favorite destination for tourists from all around the world. The main purpose of terrorism is making people live in fear, and they can do this by attacking Bali. This forum will be our strategic partner to counterterrorism, especially for early detection,” the head of the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) Ansyaad Mbai said after the inauguration of the forum in Denpasar on Friday.
“But I’d like to say that Bali is now the safest place in the world, because security is the first priority in Bali,” Ansyaad stressed.
FKPT members are drawn from various stakeholders, including the police, the administration and religious leaders. The main task of the forum is building a cooperation network with local communities that will enable them to detect the existence of radical ideas and launch efforts to counter them.
Ansyaad said that the forum would work by adopting local wisdom on the island. Many indigenous communities will be involved in the forum, such as the Interfaith Communication Forum (FKUB) and the customary village, an autonomous traditional organization that wields a significant influence over the Balinese. Currently, there are nearly 1,500 customary villages across the island.
As of now, there have been 11 FKPT set up in Indonesia, including in Semarang, Ambon and Bali. “This year, we have set the target of forming FKPT in 15 regions in Indonesia,” Ansyaad said.
Ansyaad warned that the seeds of radicalism had been found in many places in Indonesia, including Bali. “Some people, who believe in a radical ideology, commit terror on behalf of their religion. We have to prevent the ideology from spreading within society. It is dangerous,” he said.
He explained that none of the religions agreed with or even taught terrorism. In fact, all religions forbade people from killing each other. “But we admit there are some people with the wrong understanding about their religion. We hope the FKPT can detect them soon enough,” he added.
Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika warmly welcomed the inauguration of the FKPT. “As an open island, Bali has not only the potential to be a transit area for international criminals, but also the main target of crimes, including terrorism. This forum is really needed in Bali,” he said.
The retired three-star police general, who successfully led the investigation into the 2002 Bali bombing, acknowledged that it was not easy to cut the chains of terrorism and radicalism.
“That’s because radicalism stays in their hearts and minds. It has strong roots and cannot be subverted easily. Now it is our task to eliminate the roots so the tree of terrorism will not have the chance to grow.”
Pastika stressed that terrorism would never succeed in achieving its aims. In Bali, for instance, terrorism failed to destroy the interfaith harmony. Balinese Hindu devotees, he said, always lived in harmony with other religions and ethnicities.
“We have a local wisdom that teaches us to view the devotees of other religions as brothers and sisters. That’s why a Balinese person will call his Muslim neighbors nyama [brothers].”