Indonesia is South-east Asia's terrorism capital: Jakarta police chief

Indonesian security personnel patrolling in the Sukarno Hatta International airport in Cengkareng.
Indonesian security personnel patrolling in the Sukarno Hatta International airport in Cengkareng. PHOTO: EPA

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post/Asia News Network) - A high-ranking police officer has called Indonesia the capital of terrorism in South-east Asia, pointing to the Indonesian Islamic Group (NII) as one of the region's first groups to spread radical propaganda and to terrorist organisation Jemaah Islamiah (JI).

These groups have thousands of followers in Indonesia, and many have been arrested, said Jakarta police chief, Inspector General Tito Karnavian.

"I said to my friend in Singapore: Your (terrorist group) is only a small branch. (Terrorist groups in) Malaysia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka are also small branches of JI," Tito was quoted as saying on Thursday by news portal tempo.co.

He said Muslim countries should lead the cooperation against radicalism in order to overpower these groups. The public should alert the government to newly formed networks, he urged, adding that it would be helpful to create an online system for such tip-offs.

"The Internet is amazing, but efforts to overcome radicalism via the Internet are, if not a big zero, only 10 on a scale of one to 100," he was quoted as saying.

He also proposed to strengthen the detention system for suspected members of radical groups.

"Most of the radical group members that were arrested (in Poso, Central Sulawesi) were moved to Java... It is dangerous to put the members together there, since they would be able to consolidate," he said.

He also said that wanted terrorism suspect Santoso had been previously captured in a robbery case in Palu, Central Sulawesi, and sentenced to three years of imprisonment. But he had since been released and now leads the East Indonesia Mujahiddin terrorist network in Poso.

"The transfer of prisoners to Java will cut their connections with other radical groups. But, if (we are) unable to control (the situation), they can meet the bigger bosses here who are more radical," said Tito, according to the tempo.co report.