Jakarta- In recent weeks, terror alerts have been issued on such a regular basis in Indonesiathat many have problems separating fact from fiction. But senior Indonesian police investigators now believe that some of these warnings are part of a smokescreen created by terrorist bomb-maker Azahari Husin and his accomplices to sow confusion among security forces.
“The rumour-mill is on overdrive. It is psychological warfare. Azahari and his men have done what most terrorists try to do: strike fear and chaos,” a counter-terrorism official told The Straits Times.
The terror alerts issued so far include a warning by Jakartapolice of possible suicide bombings at embassies, international schools, office buildings and shopping malls.
One police operative said: “There is growing frustration with these alerts because most of the information comes through SMS or Internet. Sometimes, it is impossible to verify these sources.” The US, Australian and British governments have also been issuing their own travel alerts on Indonesia, adding to the growing confusion inJakarta.
“The information is sometimes blurred because they all have different sources,” said a regional security expert. “The police and intelligence agencies in Indonesiacan’t seem to work together because they are rivals. The Western alliance is also not exactly one big happy family.”
Some observers believe that some of these terror alerts may be the work of pranksters.
Despite the confusion, Indonesian security forces cannot afford to let their guard down. “Azahari and his followers are at large. As long as they are not caught,Indonesiafaces a serious terrorist threat,” said security consultant Martin Huges.
* Indonesia’s terror alert overdrive (The Straits Times, June 8) – www.straitstimes.asia1.com