Why terrorists love Indonesia

Updated On: Nov 15, 2005

Jakarta - A weak legal framework. Low educational level of its people. Poverty. The combination of these three factors in Indonesia make the sprawling archipelago a magnet for terrorists, security and intelligence analysts told Media Indonesia. 

     In an analysis, the newspaper noted that there had been a rise in the number of terrorist attacks in Indonesia in recent years. The biggest terrorist attack was theBali bombings in October 2002, which killed more than 200 people. Two names have been linked to the attacks - Malaysians Azahari Husin, a Jemaah Islamiah bomb-expert, and his accomplice, Noordin Mohd Top, described as the group's strategist and recruiter. Azahari was killed last week during a gunbattle with Indonesian police.  
     According to Mr Wawan Purwanto, a lecturer at the National Intelligence Institute, compared to MalaysiaIndonesia makes for a great hideout for terrorists.  
     Malaysian laws give its security forces the authority to detain anyone who is suspected of engaging in terrorist activies. On the other hand, Indonesian security forces are not allowed to do anything unless they have evidence to prove that a person is a terrorist.  
     "This country makes it easy for people to engage in terrorism, especially with the abolition of anti-subversive laws. The current anti-terrorism laws are insufficient. The security apparatus has become reluctant to take action," he said. 
     The low level of education among the population has also made them easy prey for terrorist indoctrination. Mr Wawan said terrorist groups had taken advantage of the divide between modern Islam and conservative Islam to brainwash large segments of the population.
     Terrorists have also exploited the poverty factor by promising their poor recruits rewards such as money and promises of paradise in their afterlife, he added.
     Media Indonesia, in an editorial related to the above analysis, noted that Indonesians are united in their opposition to the revival of anti-subversive laws - which were used by the Suharto regime to silence its critics - as well as to the introduction of the "repressive" Internal Security Act (ISA). Both Malaysia and Singaporehave the ISA, which allows for detention without trial. 
     However, the newspaper also acknowledged that the presence of the ISA had made it almost impossible for terrorists like Azahari and Noordin to operate inMalaysia 
     "As a result, these two countries (Singapore and Malaysia) are the most stable in Southeast Asia. The two countries are reaping economic benefits amid instability in other countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand." 
     The newspaper ended its editorial by saying: "Indonesia must be firm in saying 'NO' to the notion that it should just act as a witness to the success of Malaysia and Singapore. It is Indonesia's stupidity that has helped Malaysia and Singapore to stay miles ahead."

* Terrorists' three reasons for choosing Indonesia (Media Indonesia, Nov 14)

* Three factors that lure terrorists to Indonesia (Media Indonesia, Nov 13)