The fight against terror - Indonesia

Tighter security and checks even before entering airport terminals

Indonesian security forces patrol inside Soekarno-Hatta International airport near Jakarta, Indonesia, on March 24, 2016.
Indonesian security forces patrol inside Soekarno-Hatta International airport near Jakarta, Indonesia, on March 24, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Indonesia has beefed up security at its airports, with more intensive checks on those entering the terminals and increased patrols. The measures extend beyond the terminal buildings to carparks, cargo areas and even nearby access roads.

The Transportation Ministry had raised the alert level at airports across the country from "green", which is for normal conditions, to "yellow" following the Paris terror attacks last Nov 13, according to airport operators. The "yellow" status, which is still in force, requires additional security measures such as random checks on vehicles entering the airport, officials said.

At Soekarno-Hatta Airport in the capital Jakarta, 60 heavily armed officers from Brimob, or the police mobile brigade, were added to the 700-strong team from the police and army at the terminals.

Police sniffer dogs, intelligence officers in plainclothes and hundreds of closed-circuit television cameras have also been deployed, the airport's operation and services executive manager Andhika Nurjaman said. "The security now is tighter than tight," he said. "Cars and passengers and drivers entering the cargo area will be checked. Those arriving at the terminals will be screened."

At Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport, bomb detectors have been installed at carpark entrances and eight new scanners put up at the international and domestic terminals. Airport general manager Trikora Harjo said: "People used to be able to go right up to the check-in counters without getting checked but not anymore. We also screen everyone now, not just randomly."

Intelligence sources have told The Sunday Times that security levels in Indonesia, particularly in Jakarta and Bali, had been raised in the weeks before the Brussels attacks.

Brigadier-General Agus Rianto, national police spokesman, said surveillance is conducted at ports, embassies and shopping malls.

"Evil people will do anything to realise their intentions. What we can do is not to give them the opportunity to do so and to minimise any possibility," he said.

Security analyst Yohanes Sulaiman from Universitas Jenderal Achmad Yani, noting that "nowhere is safe proof", said: "No matter how sophisticated the security system is, it's impossible to cover every area. These terrorists, if they can't enter the airport, they will do it just outside. The best prevention is still educating people against radicalism."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 27, 2016, with the headline 'Tighter security and checks even before entering airport terminals'. Print Edition | Subscribe