Ruminations On Unreligious Affairs Part 2
In my last post I highlighted the fact that some criminal gangs in Jakarta, with the connivance of the powers-that-be, appear to use their religion as a cloak for their nefarious activities.
We common folk, the rakyat in Indonesian, are seemingly powerless in the face of this anarchy, organised though it may be. The security forces keep their not so blind eyes averted from criminal activities whilst seeking international star status as pursuers of terrorists. I'm tempted to coin another label for the supposed 417 lost souls seeking to create havoc through explosive acts because everyone facing personal danger from purse snatchers, undisciplined road users or the poorly maintained infrastructure can also experience extreme fright at seemingly random times.
Of minor interest is that the crime rate rises in Ramadhan, the fasting month. This seems to please the police as they are able to wipe out a few of the ungodly, although they're probably not so pleased that they don't get their moments of fame on national TV.
A report from the International Crisis Group (.pdf) issued on 27th August makes it absolutely clear that it is an ad hoc network of Muslim fundamentalists who have been responsible for most, if not all, of the various terrorist bombings carried out in Indonesia since 2000, and the police hunt for Noordin Top and the members of his network continues apace.
Current news is focussed on the perceived foreign funding of his operations. This is not so surprising; after all, globalisation in its many manifestations, including the internet, makes it relatively easy to spread 'the word'. One would have expected that Noordin's funding would have come through Syariah banks, but it seems that cash on delivery is the preferred mode, probably because e-transfers are fairly easily traced.
Yet, is it as clear cut as we are lead to, or supposed to, believe? There is strong evidence of the involvement of the military, and possibly the Indonesian intelligence services, in the establishment and probable arming of the different terrorist cells.
Another blog, Spook Terror, set up by Aangirfan has a veritable cornucopia of these indications and I've picked just a few of these, plus a few other sources. However, just because I'm paranoid etc. etc., I think I should preface them with the disclaimer used by Aangirfan.
The posting of stories, commentaries, reports, documents and links (embedded or otherwise) here does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such posted material or parts therein.
1. A spate of explosions in Jakarta in 2000 included a huge car-bomb blast in the underground parking lot of the Jakarta Stock Exchange. Two members of Kopassus (army special forces) were convicted and jailed for that act of terrorism.2. Christmas Eve attacks on churches in 2000In February 2001, the Indonesian newsweekly Tempo published a cover story suggesting links between the bombings and the Indonesian military, the TNI.
The article pointed out that Edi Sugiarto, who was quickly arrested and confessed to assembling 15 of the bombs used in the town of Medan, had long run a car repair shop in the province of Aceh. Members of TNI and Indonesia’s special forces, Kopassus, regularly went to his shop for repairs and just to hang out.
Phone records indicated that Sugiarto called Fauzi Hasbi seven times before the bombings. Hasbi was a leader of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), but Tempo outed him as an Indonesian government mole. In 2005, two years after Hasbi’s death, the Australian television program SBS Dateline provided additional evidence of Hasbi’s long-time links to the TNI (see 1979-February 22, 2003).
Fasbi also called Jacob Tanwijaya, a businessman well connected with the TNI, 35 times. That businessman in turn talked on the phone to Lt. Col. Iwan Prilianto, a Kopassus special forces intelligence officer, over 70 times.
In 2005, Umar Abduh, an Indonesian Islamist who worked with Hasbi, claimed that in retrospect he realized that he and other militants were completely manipulated by the government.
3. The Bali Bombs
i. The airline manifest of Garuda airlines shows that at least two generals from Jakarta visited Bali three days before the bombings and that they returned to Jakarta one day before the Sari Club was blown up.
This was confirmed by armed forces chief General Sutarto, who claimed that General Djaja Suparman was on vacation, while General Ryamizard Riyacudu (1), chief of staff, was said to have gone to Bali for health reasons.
General Suparman is allegedly one of the generals behind certain 'Moslem' militias and reportedly set up militias to counter student demonstrations in 1998.
One of these militias, Pram Swarkasa, allegedly became Laskar Jihad.
ii. On 16 October 2002 Indonesian police arrested a former Air Force officer who confessed to building the bomb. This officer was later released.
According to a news story (now removed from their archives) on 2 November 2002 in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Indonesian security services may have handled the Bali bomb.
"Some time around the 30 October 2002, senior officers in the Indonesian military HQ gave a piece of information to a military attache from a Western embassy in Indonesia - the source of explosive used in the October 12 bombing in Bali was the head of the counter-terrorism unit with the army's special forces."
The father-in-law of the officer concerned is Hendropriyono (3), who was then Indonesia's spy chief.
iii. It was reported in the Jakarta Post that convicted Bali bomber Ali Imron (aka the Smiling Bomber) had been seen in 2004 having a Starbucks coffee in a plush Jakarta shopping mall in the company of top police official Brigadier General Gorries Mere. Imron apparently also visited the Hard Rock Cafe.
After Amrozi had been arrested for his part in the Bali Bomb, National Police chief General Da'i Bachtiar had a face to face meeting with him. Bachtiar laughed, shook hands and posed for photographs with him.
4. Ambon 2000-2004
Sydney Jones of the International Crisis Group has said that in Ambon in mid-2001 a small group of soldiers from TNI (Indonesian Military) provided basic military training to Laskar Jihad, a Java-based fundamentalist militia, and supplied them with modern weapons.
Tempo magazine reported in January 2003 that Kopassus supplied the Coker Gang, a group of gangsters who are of the Christian faith directives, weapons and bombs to carry out every attack (in 2002).
5. Brig. Gen. Koesmayadi
May 22nd 1998. Prabowo was sacked as commander of Kostrad, the strategic reserve, the regiment Suharto commanded when he took power in 1965. Prabowo's friend Muchdi (2) * ran Kopassus (special forces)
August 2nd 2000. Lt. Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu is appointed Commander of Army Special Forces (Kostrad). Brig. Gen. Koesmayadi is appointed as the Assistant of Logistics to the Kostrad Commander.
October 17 2002. The Australian newspaper The Age reports: The TNI's image is ... tarnished by the evident backing by its Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad) and other elements for the Laskar Jihad, a force of Islamic fanatics set against the Christian communities in the Moluccan islands and the coastal towns of Papua.
June 25th 2006. Brig. Gen. Koesmayadi died.
June 26th 2006. At Koesmayadi's home in Ancol, North Jakarta, the army’s Military Police discover 145 weapons -"enough to equip two companies". Among them were 96 rifles, seven ungrooved rifles, 42 short-barreled rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
.........................................To sum up, units of the Indonesian army have supplied directives, training and arms to both Muslims and Christians in the sectarian 'wars' that have plagued Indonesia since reformasi. So who has been, and probably still is, fomenting the jihad against westerners and Indonesians alike? The evidence suggests that Noordin Top also has the backing of forces separate from but in league with al-Qaeda.
(1) In spite of strong lobbying, Ryamizard Riyacudu was passed over by SBY, , for the position of army chief..........................................
(2) Muchdi was tried in 2008, but acquitted, for the assassination of Munir, the human rights activist.
(3) When A.M. Hendropriyono was chief of Indonesia’s National Intelligence Agency (BIN), Muchdi was his deputy.
And if SBY wants the army to be involved in rounding up terrorist groups, it should be a speedy operation considering army units, or renegade elements of them, reportedly set them up in the first place.
A Balanced View?
The media-friendly shootout in Cilacap raises some interesting questions, the possible answers to which I'm going to leave to folk who don't actually live here in Indonesia.
In case you're wondering why, consider this: just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get me. So, if what I post here reaches the ears of certain military figures, please note that I do nothing other than raise questions because I'm a sceptical observer rather than a bigoted activist and my blog is an attempt to make sense of this fascinating and diverse country.
Who is (was?) Noordin Top?
England have withdrawn from the World Badminton Championships in the Indian city of Hyderabad because of "a specific terrorist threat" against the championships. This might seem to be irrelevant, but consider that the threat comes from Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is Urdu for Soldiers of the Pure, a Pakistan-based organisation fighting against Indian control in Kashmir.
It has been blamed for a number of terrorist incidents in India including the October 2005 bomb attacks in Delhi, which killed more than 60 people, and is alleged to have played a part in the armed raid on the Indian parliament in December 2001. Most recently it was linked with the Mumbai attacks in November 2008, which killed at least 188 people.
Here we have a nationalist group, much like the Basque group ETA and the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), fighting for the resolution of a historical cause, in the case of L-e-T dating from the partition of India in 1947.
Noordin Top's operatives don't have a comparable cause.
Peter Beaumont, writing nigh on seven years ago, suggested that a defining element (of the current 'wave' suicide bombers) is a special kind of nihilistic destructiveness born of a psychological malaise widespread among many radicalised and often well-educated young Islamic men who believe that a world dominated by Western political ideals, culture and economics holds nothing for them.
It has created an existential crisis characterised by a narcissistic cult of death and destruction, postmodern in its fascination with technology and the media of communication, that yet utterly rejects all aspects of Western culture.
I've never understood the term 'postmodern', but that aside we are given a rationale for all the recent bombing outrages in Indonesia, from Bali in 2002, to an earlier attack on the JW Marriott Hotel in 2003, to the Australian Embassy in 2004, to last month's hotel bombings. That one of the recent hotel suicide bombers was just 18 or 19 seems to prove his hypothesis.
But that still doesn't explain Noordin Top's motivation.
One can but conjecture; after all, few of us are as satanic as he seems to be (have been?).
One interesting line of thought has it that he is (was?) but a tool of the military, and, in particular, Kopassus, the army's special forces once led by failed vice-presidential candidate, the billionaire self-styled 'friend of the poor', Gen. (ret) Subianto Prabowo.
Noordin generally holed up in the Cilacap area of Central Java, the Kopassus regular training ground.
It is well-known that the army is still clinging on to many of its businesses which have funded their operations over the years. In Green Indonesia, I showed the links between the army, a conglomerate which fronts for it, and the political élite (of all the major political groups) and agri-business.
It is also public knowledge that there are factions within the army which are not happy with former general SBY as the current and future President. Earlier this year they formed a group called, in rough English, 'Anyone but SBY' (ABS), an effort doomed to failure as he was perceived as being 'better than the rest'.
During his press conference shortly after the hotel bombings, he alluded to a plot against him, apparently to prevent him taking office for a second time. The majority of the poulation presumed that he was making a pre-emptive strike against Prabowo. Could the cell of bombers wiped out in Bekasi have been part of that plot?
One could go further with this line of thought. For example, what is the connection between the military and Freeport in Papua? Given that Freeport is a major American corporation, could there be a tie-in with the US-Indonesia Society, a ... group launched in 1994 and backed by the military - Gen. Prabowo was one of its key sponsors, US corporations and former government officials?
The FBI and the Indonesian police believed that the military were behind the killing of three American teachers in Papua in 2002, and considered to be an attempt to discredit the Free Papua Movement (OPM)
Furthermore, it was alleged in 2002 that the Indonesian military and government figures had links with terror groups.
So, my main question is this: has a renegade military group, and Kopassus in particular, been using Noordin Top for its own nefarious purposes? In the aftermath of the weekend's telethon, another issue is emerging. Having scared the wits out of the farmers and kin dwelling near Noordin Top's supposed hideout, it's now being suggested that this has all been a dramatic display to bolster SBY's image.
That's as maybe, but it could be that he's bolstering his international credentials as I can't see that he's lost much, if any, credibility with the 60% of the electorate who recently voted for him.
However, domestically, he's made one quite worrying decision.
The raids on various hideouts have been carried out by the police who have only been distinct from the army for five years or so. There is still incomplete co-ordination between the multifarious intelligence agencies. SBY has stated that military intelligence should have a role in monitoring 'terrorist' activities in 30 provinces, a decision which can only remind adults of the dwi-fungsi role of the army back in the days of Suharto's autocratic rule, when dissension was verboten, often on pain of torture and/or disappearance.
Given that SBY doesn't have to face the electorate again, he is 'free' to make his mark on the future direction of Indonesian society. One must hope, pray even, that we are not about to see a return to authoritarian rule by a former general.
..............................I am indebted to Aangirfan for many of the links in this post.