Intolerance breeds terrorism: The Jakarta Post

Indonesian police foiled another ISIS-inspired terror attack in Jakarta, stopping a suicide bombing by a 27-year-old woman who allegedly planned a strike at the presidential palace.
Indonesian police foiled another ISIS-inspired terror attack in Jakarta, stopping a suicide bombing by a 27-year-old woman who allegedly planned a strike at the presidential palace. PHOTO: ST FILE

In its editorial on Dec 15, the paper encourages parents, teachers and religious organisations to play their part to counter terrorism threats

Credit should go to Indonesia's counter-terrorism squad, Densus 88, for pre-empting a suicide bomb attack outside the Presidential Palace reportedly planned for Dec 11.

A homemade bomb, which the police say contained a highly explosive compound called triacetone triperoxide (TATP), was seized from the 'bride' or would-be executor of the attack following her arrest at a boarding house in the Bintara Jaya area in Bekasi.

The impact of the attack, if it had materialised, would have been beyond imagination.

As a comparison, TATP was used in the Paris carnage of Nov 2015, which killed at least 129 people and seriously injured 99 others.

Other substances and equipment believed to have been prepared for the attack on the heavily guarded location were discovered in a boarding house in Surakarta, shortly after the Densus 88 personnel nabbed one of the suspected bomb makers, who is a student of a university in the Central Java sultanate.

Early investigations reportedly revealed that the suspects were in communication with Bahrun Naim, the Indonesian terrorist network leader now fighting for the Islamic State (IS) movement. The police say Bahrun taught the suspects how to assemble the bomb and prepare for the suicide attack.

The choice of a woman as the perpetrator of a suicide bombing is unprecedented in the history of terrorist groups whose aim is to set up a caliphate in Indonesia.

While security policymakers will have to analyse this new phenomenon, the main role being entrusted to a woman shows that terrorist groups targeting Indonesia will take any path to reach their goals.

The efforts have included participation in the mass rally on Nov 4 to demand the arrest of non-active Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for alleged blasphemy.

The police arrested nine terrorism suspects who mingled with thousands of others who took to streets that day with the suspected aim of seizing firearms from police guarding the rally.

The most saddening fact of the latest arrests is of course the vulnerability of our youths to the lure of terrorists, who spread their devilish teachings via the internet.

The dilemma posed by easy access to the internet is evident in the passage of the revised Electronic Information and Transactions Law, which freedom activists say compromises democracy for security.

Densus 88 will never cease hunting down members of terrorist cells, but its personnel cannot succeed in their mission alone.

Parents, teachers and religious leaders will help the efforts to eradicate terrorism if they instill in youth the values of mutual respect and peaceful co-existence that characterise our nation.

The state, too, can make a significant contribution by strict enforcement of the law against intolerant groups or those who spread hatred toward people of different faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds. It is intolerance that breeds terrorism.

The Jakarta Post is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 22 media companies.