Security tightened in Bali ahead of Interpol meeting expected to focus on ISIS threat

Indonesian police guard at the site of a militant attack in central Jakarta, Indonesia on Jan 16. Indonesia has deployed 3,800 police personnel to secure the resort island of Bali ahead of the 85th Interpol General Assembly.
Indonesian police guard at the site of a militant attack in central Jakarta, Indonesia on Jan 16. Indonesia has deployed 3,800 police personnel to secure the resort island of Bali ahead of the 85th Interpol General Assembly.PHOTO: REUTERS

NUSA DUA (JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Indonesia has deployed 3,800 police personnel to secure the resort island of Bali ahead of the 85th Interpol General Assembly, attended by police chiefs and representatives from 167 countries, slated to kick off on Monday (Nov 7).

The four-day meeting is expected to spark controversy from hard-line groups, particularly given the presence of a delegation from Israel in Bali.

The National Police said they were aware of a number of threats and had prepared accordingly for the second-biggest event after the UN General Assembly, including from ISIS related groups in Indonesia.

"The Bali Police have been instructed to anticipate terror threats from ISIS-related groups or followers of Santoso," said Bali Police operational division head Adj. Sr. Comr. Wayan Sri said on Sunday in Bali, referring to an Indonesian terrorist who was shot dead in Palu, Central Sulawesi, in July.

Santoso's followers are believed to be hiding in the jungles of Palu.

Interpol has 191 member countries, of which 167 have confirmed their attendance at the event. Some 1,200 members of delegations, including member countries' national police chiefs, are expected to attend the conference.

Indonesia Vice-President Jusuf Kalla is scheduled to open the conference, which will discuss assessing and tackling threats posed by returning foreign terrorist fighters among other issues.

Indonesia, where ISIS has exerted increasing influence on extremist cells, is set to push the 167 Interpol members attending the event for greater cooperation to contain the spread of ISIS in the Asia Pacific Region.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said Indonesia needed to push for greater cooperation especially on the extradition of Indonesians fighting alongside ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

As an initial move, Insp. Gen. Boy said the National Police would seek greater cooperation with police authorities in the Middle East. Indonesian fighters returning from Iraq and Syria have reportedly orchestrated a number of attacks in Indonesia.

One person on the wanted list is Bahrun Naim, who is linked to at least four terrorism plots in Indonesia, including a plan to attack Singapore with a rocket from Batam, Riau Islands.

"We expect that we can bring those fighters home. For example, many Indonesians have become victims because of attacks carried out by Bahrun's groups in Indonesia. We brought home [TERRORIST]Umar Patek from Pakistan in the past, so we hope we can do the same with Bahrun," Insp. Gen.Boy said.

He said he hoped all Interpol member countries could swiftly follow up any red notices on terrorism sent by Indonesia in the future.

There are currently around 300 Indonesian citizens fighting alongside ISIS in the Middle East.

Terrorism analyst Ridwan Habib from the University of Indonesia (UI) said Indonesia should be able to push for a scheme whereby a member country could directly send a red notice to a destination country.

Under the current system, Ridwan said, a member country must send its red notice to Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France. It is then delivered to the destination country to be followed up. Such red tape could hamper counterterrorism efforts that needed a swift response for better results, said Ridwan.

Ridwan said the Bali forum was the best opportunity to push for this reform. "If the decision is taken in Bali then it would be something revolutionary," Ridwan said.

He said direct intelligence sharing had been practiced by intelligence agencies at the international level, so there was no reason for Interpol not to apply the same concept in order to step up the fight against terrorism.