Hardcore national security efforts alone cannot end Indonesia's terrorism threat, observers say. The government must also attack its economic roots: the widespread poverty that is fertile soil for sowing the seeds of radicalism.
"Poverty alleviation must also be made a root of resisting terrorism," Kyai Haji Cholil Abdullah Junaidi, director of the Darul Falal pesantren in Jakarta, told Khabar Southeast Asia. "There must be enforcement actions and seriousness (from the) government to save the nation by freeing society from poverty.
"The number of poor must be reduced in order to prevent the emergence of terrorism."
Teachers at the school remind their pupils that even in the face of poverty, it is important to resist the lure of extremism, he added. "Although we experience economic hardship, we don't wish to be involved in terrorist actions."
Mudji Sutrisno, an instructor at the Driyarkara School of Philosophy in Jakarta, also sees the link between poverty and radicalism.
"Poverty and social injustice are a source and trigger that fertilise armed radical movements, like terrorism. Therefore, the government has to lessen social imbalances by increasing the economy of the poor," Mudji told Khabar.
Commenting on a police raid over New Year's Eve in which several suspects were killed, Marzuki Alie, speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR), expressed appreciation for the swift police action. But added the threat of radicalism and terrorism would continue to haunt Indonesia as long as poverty and injustice linger.
"One who performs frontal insurgency has experienced an excess of disappointment because he felt there was no chance out of the condition (poverty)," Marzuki told Khabar, adding the way to counter it is through economic improvements and education.
Despite steady economic growth, poverty in Indonesia remains a persistent-- if not growing– problem. Poverty did fall from 17% in 2004 to 12.5% in January 2013, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) reported.
But it noted: "Those who are poor are now worse-off than they were before the devastating 1997 financial crisis that swept the region and the gap between rich and poor is widening. About half of the population lives just above the national poverty line."
Meanwhile, "the gap between the poor and non-poor is also yawning," Abdurrahman Syebubakar, senior policy advisor at Jakarta-based Indonesian Institute for Democracy Education wrote in a February 21st Jakarta Post opinion piece.
He cited Central Statistics Agency (BPS) data showing the number of poor from March 2013 to September 2013 grew by about 480,000 people to 28.55 million—nearly 12% of Indonesia's 2013 population of 242.3 million.
"The number of people living on the brink of absolute poverty is estimated at 70 million. They could easily plunge into absolute poverty even at the slightest decline in their economic condition," Abdurrahman warned. The figure represents 27.6% of Indonesia's estimated 253.6 million residents this year.