From Legislation to Action: Indonesia’s Strides in Counterterrorism”

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Over the years, Indonesia continued measures to detect, disrupt, degrade, and restrict haven for terrorist groups operating within its borders. The country’s counterterrorism instruments work cooperatively with the U.S. administration’s law enforcement agencies. The Indonesian government and most civil society leaders condemn ISIS and support CVE measures in tandem with a robust civilian-led law enforcement effort against terrorists. The Indonesian National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) regards Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) to be the most dangerous terrorist group currently working in the country. BNPT estimates that Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) is hazardous but disorganized and thus also remains a priority for law enforcement.

In 2022, Indonesia captured and charged several hundred individuals for their association with terrorist groups, including members of JI and JAD, displaying Indonesia’s sustained counterterrorism effort

The 2018 Law on Counterterrorism holds Indonesian counterterrorism agencies’ legal mandate and authority. In 2022, Indonesia’s Congress enacted a revised criminal code incorporating the 2018 counterterrorism law.  To furnish a secure trial, terrorist suspects are presently tried in two courts in Jakarta. Although courts convey a 100 percent conviction rate on counterterrorism cases, sentences average only about three years. 

Civilians lead Indonesian counterterrorism measures within the Indonesian National Police (INP), with primary investigative responsibility allocated to the particular counterterrorism unit “Densus 88.”  The INP, including Densus 88, acquired ongoing training and capacity-building assistance from the U.S. government.  In 2022, Densus 88 notified the arrests of several hundred suspected terrorists from JI and JAD in addition to the destruction of the terrorist group Mujahidin Indonesia Timur.  

The INP also proclaimed successes in its deradicalization programs, which prompted several prominent terrorists to renounce violence. In addition to Densus 88, the INP operates its Mobile Brigade Corps (Korps BRIMOB l) for counterterrorism, riot management, hostage rescue, and bomb disposal procedures.  

The Indonesian government has also incorporated INTERPOL databases for terrorist screening at points of entrance. The BNPT has dedicated itself to developing a national terrorist watchlist and acknowledges that commitment, which is consistent with UN Security Council resolutions 2396 and 2309.  

Indonesian government officials have publicly suggested designating Papuan armed groups as terrorist organizations. After a 2022 attack by a Papuan armed group that massacred ten people, a senior Indonesian official expressed that the Indonesian Cabinet classified Papuan armed groups as terrorist organizations.

The BNPT and INP lead Indonesian government actions on Countering Violent Extremism with help from ministries dealing with social and religious affairs.  Indonesia’s National Action Plan for Countering Violent Extremism (NAP-CVE) is a multiagency action based on a Presidential Executive Order 2021. INP continued to use former terrorists in its public messaging to indicate the success of its deradicalization program. Notingly, Umar Patek, a terrorist convicted for his role in the Bali bombings in 2002, has featured prominently in the messaging campaign.  

Indonesian government messaging was concentrated on narratives intended to weaken the appeal of terrorism.  The Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology, which manages public schools and universities, and the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which governs Islamic boarding schools and universities, have programs to control student radicalization. The national mosque, Istiqlal, whose head imam is a government designee, has led training programs on counter-radicalization for youth. The government shared these programs throughout mosque networks and media entities to promote messages of tolerance.

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