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Jakarta Post

Police mull extending Operation Camar Maleo

  • Fedina S. Sundaryani

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, January 9, 2016   /  05:04 pm

The National Police are considering whether to continue with Camar Maleo, the operation to hunt down and neutralize a terror group operating in Poso, Central Sulawesi, after its fourth stage concludes on Saturday.

National Police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti said the police were currently reviewing past Camar Maleo operations, adding that the police'€™s counterterrorism unit Densus 88 had arrested 28 terrorist suspects in the past year.

'€œWe had a meeting about this recently and have produced several alternatives but we are still figuring out whether [a renewed operation] should focus on just that region [or expand it further]; the most important part is that it must be effective,'€ he told reporters on Friday at the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta.

The gang in Poso is allegedly run by the Santoso-led East Indonesian Mujahidin (MIT) group, which has been affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) movement in Syria and Iraq since 2013.

Currently, at least 1,000 personnel from the police'€™s Mobile Brigade (Brimob) and Densus 88 have been deployed in the regency, and the Indonesian Military (TNI) has also assisted in the manhunt.

The operation has led to recent arrests of Chinese Uighurs and several women suspected of being part of the MIT, but Santoso himself has continued to lead and take part in terrorist activities.

Badrodin said that although Santoso remained one of their targets, there was a possibility that others would rise to take his place if the most-wanted terrorist was arrested or killed, meaning that it was unlikely that his surrender would result in a reduction in militant activity in the region.

'€œYes, Santoso is our main target, but if he is caught [the terrorist activities] will not simply come to an end. If Santoso is killed then others will rise; this is what typically happens in such organizations,'€
he said.

'€œThis is why we are not making our decisions based [solely on capturing Santoso] but on how effective our actions in the region are. In our evaluation, we see that we have managed to catch 28 [terrorist suspects] in a year, including two leaders.'€

From the late 1990s to the mid-2000s, Poso was home to sectarian conflict between Muslims and Christians. Although the conflict officially ended with the signing of the Malino Accords in 2001 and 2002, the region remains a hotbed of terrorist activity.

Terrorism expert Al Chaidar recently said that greater involvement by the TNI was essential in the effort to apprehend Santoso as they '€œknow how to fight against guerrilla strategy'€ adopted by the MIT.

Although Al Chaidar said he did not believe that radical groups, such as the MIT, currently had the ability to engage in large-scale attacks, the government should take precautions and distribute an official list of radical groups to avoid and report on.

Indonesia ranked 31st among 162 countries surveyed in the Institute for Economics and Peace'€™s 2014 Global Terrorism Index, scoring 4.67 on a scale of 1 to 10.


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