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Jakarta Post

Indonesia, US up the ante on counterterrorism

  • Solomon French and Agnes Anya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, January 24, 2018   /   11:40 am
Indonesia, US up the ante on counterterrorism President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo (left) welcomes United States Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis before a meeting at the State Palace on Jan. 23. (The Jakarta Post/Agus Suparto/Presidential Palace)

United States Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has met with his Indonesian counterpart, Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, on security stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

In a joint press statement on Tuesday, Mattis and Ryamizard highlighted measures to combat threats of terrorism and radicalism in the Southeast Asia-Pacific region, particularly Islamic State (IS) strongholds in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Ryamizard said Indonesia had an initiative described as a “strategic intelligence exchange cooperation” given the name "Our Eyes" in an effort to overcome terrorism threats.

Our Eyes was initially put forward in October 2017 as a "mini-Interpol" involving six ASEAN countries: Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and The Philippines.

"General Mattis said he would help [Our Eyes]. I am very glad because, after all, the US has more sophisticated equipment, [and] we need that help.” said Ryamizard.

“As Asia’s IS is centered in our region, this [terrorism] issue must be thoroughly resolved,” he continued. “To resolve it, we need to send spies. Hence, I formed Our Eyes.”

Our Eyes is based on the "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and the United Kingdom, an espionage alliance dating back to World War II.

Documents leaked in 2013 by American whistle-blower Edward Snowden revealed that Five Eyes was responsible for trading sensitive information on each other’s countries' citizens in order to bypass each country’s respective laws regarding citizen surveillance.

Ryamizard said the initiative would involve elements of “cooperation on defense, military and intelligence networks.”

“This concept is purely cooperation to overcome the threat of terrorism and radicalism in the region without any political agenda in it,” Ryamizard said in a written statement.

Meanwhile, at the same event, Mattis addressed the need for action regarding terrorism threats in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific. He also stated that the US was willing to expand its response to counterterrorism requests from Indonesia to include its special forces units. (dmr)