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Indonesia's spies out to weaken radical groups from within

Updated On: Dec 02, 2005

Jakarta Indonesia's state intelligence agency (BIN) is out to create dissension within the ranks of the country's radical groups. "We penetrate these radical groups and then we create internal conflicts (to weaken them)," BIN director, Mr Syamsir Siregar, said during a hearing with the House of Representatives' Commission 1 on defence and foreign affairs on Nov 28. 

     He refused to identify which groups he was referring to.  "That's a secret, of course. Otherwise, it would not be an intelligence operation anymore," he said. 
      The plan is one of  BIN's eight strategies for stamping out terrorism in Indonesia. Other strategies include seeking  greater powers through legislative amendments; neutralising foreign elements; tighter coordination with other relevant services; strengthening public participation; and cooperation with foreign intelligence services. 
      BIN has been lobbying the House for greater powers, which it considers essential to curb terrorism. High on its wish-list is the power to arrest those who are believed to be involved in terror activities and to hold them for questioning for up to three days. 
     The current anti-terror law only allows the police to detain a person suspected of a particular terrorist act for up to seven days. 
      In an earlier testimony to the commission, Mr Syamsir said he was convinced that BIN's enhanced powers would not result in human rights' abuses as had happened during the Suharto regime. Back then, the government had been accused of using the security forces, including intelligence units, to intimidate government critics by various means, including kidnapping and other forms of violence. 
     "There's a discourse as well to establish a special monitoring body to supervise intelligence units. But even without it, House Commission I can summon us anytime if we're thought to be crossing the line,"  Mr Syamsir said.

* BIN moves to subvert radical groups (The Jakarta Post, Nov 29)

* BIN insists on more power to fight terror (The Jakarta Post, Nov 26)