News article: Impact of Azahari's Death
bulldogg November 17th, 2005
The impact of Azahari's death |
Aleksius Jemadu, Bandung
Soon after it was announced that Azahari had been killed during a raid on a terrorist hideout in Batu, Malang, Indonesian government officials began making optimistic statements that Azahari's death would hurt the morale of his followers and damage their ability to carry out attacks. National Intelligence Agency chief Syamsir Siregar, for example, said terrorist groups very much depended on Azahari's bomb-making expertise.
However, Azahari's death will by no means automatically reduce the scale of the terrorist threat in Indonesia. Terrorist networks do not depend entirely on any individual, and these networks are able to replace lost leaders.
The series of terrorist attacks that have taken place in the country beginning with the first Bali bombings in 2002 have had certain characteristics that may not exist for terror attacks in other parts of the world. Terrorist attacks in Indonesia rarely target government officials or properties. Former President Megawati was once mentioned as a possible target for assassination but there was no real evidence terrorist groups ever contemplated such an attempt.
Terrorist groups have mainly targeted Western properties and people. In conflict areas like Maluku and Poso, the terrorists also target Christian churches and Christians, with the goal of inciting new outbreaks of religious violence.
There are visible signs the Indonesian government wants to introduce tougher policies in its fight against terrorism. Recently, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono asked the Indonesian Military (TNI) to play an active role in curbing terrorism in the country.
Although this policy is strongly opposed by human rights activists, the government is determined to go ahead with the policy. In addition, Vice President Jusuf Kalla recently disclosed a government plan to monitor the activities of some pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) to prevent the spread of radical and militant views.
The police raid that killed Azahari and several of his followers in Malang could be seen as a sign of the government's tough new stance on terrorism. This tough policy will be perceived by the terrorist groups as an open declaration of war against them.
So far the Indonesian government has expressed its full support for the global war on terrorism, but not to the extent that it will jeopardize its relationship with domestic Islamic groups. When the Indonesian government protested the U.S. military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the protests were not only aimed at upholding the principle of respect for state sovereignty, but also at appeasing domestic political constituents.
Western government leaders sometimes have a difficult time understanding the seeming ambiguities of Indonesia's policies in dealing with domestic terrorist groups. They are naive in assuming that these policies are formulated in a political vacuum. The commitment of the Indonesian government against terrorism does not necessarily mean it agrees with all Western assumptions about the war on terrorism.
Certain political nuances exist and they do affect the formulation and implementation of antiterrorism policies. For example, the Indonesian government continues to shrug off international pressure officially to declare Jamaah Islamiyah a terrorist group and ban it from Indonesia. The government argues that it cannot ban a shadowy organization whose real structure is not clear.
If the killing of Azahari is perceived by the terrorists as an indication of tougher policy measures on the part of the Indonesian government, it is predicted that in the future government officials and properties will become direct targets of terrorist attack. In other countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, government buildings and state officials became targets after their governments introduced harsh measures against the terrorists.
This prospect will become even more likely if the three people sentenced to death over the first Bali bombings, Imam Samudra, Mukhlas and Amrozi, do not receive clemency from the President.
The government should anticipate this threat by mobilizing society in its support, particularly Islamic leaders. Being tough on terrorist groups should not isolate the government from the majority of its domestic constituents. And we cannot deny that the terrorists, with their militant views and murderous plans, are born and grown up in our society.
The Indonesian government will only create more trouble for itself if it neglects the importance of societal support in its war on terrorism.
The writer is head of the Department of International Relations and head of the MA study program in social sciences at Parahyangan University in Bandung.
From my wife's uni no less. http://www.thejakartapost.com/detail...117.E03&irec=2
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