Indonesian security forces on guard against any election-related threats

BNPT conducts special training as one of its efforts to safeguard the presidential election.

By Andhika Bhakti in Semarang and Aditya Surya in Jakarta for Khabar Southeast Asia

May 16, 2014
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About 130 people from the Indonesian Army and National Police received special training to anticipate potential terrorism-related cases as the nation's presidential election draws closer.

  • National Counterterrorism Agency deputy director Arief Dharmawan observes a special pre-election training in Banyumas, Central Java on May 5th. [Robin/Khabar]

    National Counterterrorism Agency deputy director Arief Dharmawan observes a special pre-election training in Banyumas, Central Java on May 5th. [Robin/Khabar]

Arief Dharmawan, head of enforcement and training at the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), said the group has assessed data regarding possible election attacks.

"As for now, everything is under control," he told Khabar Southeast Asia.

The training, which took place May 5th-8th in Banyumas, Central Java, addressed methods to prevent possible attacks during the July 9th presidential election and to manage convicted imprisoned terrorists nearby.

"We have Nusakambangan Island, where many terrorists are currently serving in prison, including Abu Bakar Bashir," he said, referring to the founder of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the leader of Indonesian Mujahedeen Council (MMI).

Moreover, the geography of Banyumas is mountainous and remote, not unlike Poso, Central Sulawesi, so local officials are on alert for any suspicious activity, Arief said.

Abdurrahman Al Ghouzi, a 45-year old Banyumas resident, applauded the preventative rather than reactionary efforts.

"When the attack has already occurred, mostly we have seen innocent people were the victims," he told Khabar in Semarang.

United for secure election

Ahead of the April 9th legislative elections, new military commander General Moeldoko told Khabar that Indonesia ramped up security starting in March.

"So far, we have 30,000 personnel ready," he said prior to the legislative polls. "We will place them at the community base and in several regions experiencing violence, such as Aceh and other places. They will help each other to secure the event.

"However, we realize that the presence of the military and police without support from the community will not be successful," he said. "We need cooperation from everybody."

BNPT Director Ansyaad Mbai was pleased legislative elections went smoothly– but cautioned preparation and teamwork are key for the presidential polls.

"Small or big, we have to be ready. Therefore, we are preparing our team and co-operating with other teams in the exercise, to tackle any possible attacks," Ansyaad told Khabar.

Terrorism expert Al Chaidar, a professor at Malikussaleh University of Lhokseumawe, Aceh, said terrorists are unlikely to mount any election-related attacks.

"Most of them do not even have power to launch any attacks anymore. Their organizations have been lacking leadership and funding. It is OK to be radical but it is not OK to kill innocent people," he told Khabar.

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