The Jakarta Post
The fight against terrorism is complex and needs the support of all sections of society as well as assistance from friendly countries, both near and far. Having suffered numerous terror attacks, Indonesia has taken several steps, at home and regionally, to improve its capabilities to tackle the various threats from terrorism.
Most recently, the House of Representatives passed the amended Terrorism Law, which gives the Indonesian Military (TNI) greater leeway in combating terrorism, albeit with the National Police still being the lead antiterrorist agency.
Despite concerns expressed by human rights activists, those calling for the TNI’s role to be expanded have cited police limitations and weaknesses in dealing with terrorism, ranging from arbitrary arrests and shootings to the recent takeover by inmates of a prison housing hundreds of suspected militants in Depok, south of Jakarta. However, the police have also scored notable successes in preventing terror attacks.
At the regional level, Indonesia has also promoted and initiated the use of military assets to fight terrorism.
The initiative was taken after Islamist militants, many of whom had returned from the Middle East after the defeat there of the Islamic State (IS) movement, attacked and held siege the town of Marawi in the southern Philippines. To prevent the movement of the militants from the southern Philippines to Malaysia and especially Indonesia, Defense Minister Ryamizad Ryacudu initiated a trilateral mechanism including air and maritime patrols of the three ASEAN nations.
During the recent Shangri-La Dialogue on security in Singapore, Ryamizard announced that a border patrol would also be included in the trilateral mechanism. Training and exercises focusing on antiterrorist and urban guerilla warfare with special emphasis on countering enemy snipers will precede the land patrols.
Another Indonesian proposal is the Our Eyes initiative, which includes Brunei Darussalam, Singapore and Thailand in addition to the aforementioned three countries.
Regional partners, such as Australia, Japan and the United States, have also expressed their support for the initiative.
The minister said more assistance was needed in acquiring the technology to track terrorists and to deploy an early-warning system, especially when they return home.
Indonesia has also proposed a joint exercise between its special forces and those from friendly countries to exchange experience and best practices in dealing with terrorism. Another important form of international cooperation is in tracking and stopping the funding of various terror groups and their sympathizers, which cannot be done unilaterally.
However, the real battle is within minds; as it is important to rectify the skewed mindset indoctrinated by terrorist ideologues into their recruits. A stronger sense of nationalism and better national character building are also important factors in defeating the evil of terrorism.