Paris attacks: Siege is a reminder that Indonesia must stay vigilant

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo joined world leaders in condemning the siege in Paris.
Indonesia's President Joko Widodo joined world leaders in condemning the siege in Paris.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - Indonesia's President Joko Widodo joined world leaders in condemning the siege in Paris and called for more international cooperation in the fight against terror.

"The Government and people of Indonesia strongly condemned the violence and atrocities that occurred in Paris," said Mr Joko as he was leaving for the G20 Summit in Turkey on Saturday. "Terrorism for whatever reason should not be tolerated."

Mr Luhut Pandjaitan, the country's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, added that the latest attack is a reminder that Indonesia must remain vigilant against similar threats.

Several groups of terrorists, reportedly armed with assault rifles and bombs, set upon different parts of the French capital as revellers kicked off the weekend late Friday night.

At least 120 have been killed in what seemed to be coordinated attacks on various locations in the city, including a packed concert hall and football stadium.

 

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. But an eye-witness reportedly heard the attackers blaming French President Francois Hollande for the country's involvement in Syria, while another claimed the gunmen shouting "Allahu akbar" or "God is great" as they fired into the crowd in the Bataclan theatre in eastern Paris.

"The terrorists have become so sophisticated that they managed seven almost simultaneous attacks in Paris," said Mr Luhut. "This even though intelligence agencies in France are so advanced.

The former Special Force general was speaking at an event in Surabaya, East Java, which was attended by more than 2,000 Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) members, on Saturday. NU is Indonesia's largest Islamic organisation, and he called on the body to play a larger role to counter violent ideology and help the authorities detect possible threats of terrorism.

"Radicalism has become a serious problem, complicated by poverty and a low level of education," he said. "Our intelligence agency is doing a good job, but you can do even better and I'm glad that NU has elements within its wide networks that penetrate into the grassroots to help guard and ringfence us from extremism."

Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, practises a tolerant brand of Islam. About 85 per cent of the population are Muslims. The remainder include Christians, Buddhists, Confucians and Hindus.

The country's anti-terror campaign since the 2002 Bali bombings has been able to curb the threat of terrorist networks such as Jemaah Islamiah, linked to Al-Qaeda. But it is now grappling with a small radical fringe that includes sympathisers of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Mr Luhut told The Straits Times previously that about 800 Indonesians have travelled to fight for ISIS, of whom more than 60 are said to have been killed.