Tougher terrorism laws needed to fight ISIS: BNPT chief

Hate speech and intolerance should be categorised as criminal actions to stop the spread of radical ideology, top anti-terrorism official says.

By Yenny Herawati for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

September 17, 2014
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Indonesia needs to toughen its anti-terrorism law to counter the spread of radical ideology, according to National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) chairman Ansyaad Mbai.

  • BNPT Chairman Ansyaad Mbai discusses in Jakarta on August 25th, the spread of ISIS in Indonesia. [Yenny Herawati/Khabar]

    BNPT Chairman Ansyaad Mbai discusses in Jakarta on August 25th, the spread of ISIS in Indonesia. [Yenny Herawati/Khabar]

Terrorism recruitment continues to occur because parties have been able to spread hatred and intolerance among religious followers, Ansyaad said.

"These kinds of people should be brought to justice, because their actions are considered 'triggers' for the spread of terrorism in Indonesia," he said during an August 25th discussion of Indonesia's response to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ( ISIS ) threat.

Growing levels of intolerance can be attributed in part to statements from those claiming to be true believers that other religion's followers are wrong or "infidels", Ansyaad said. "Therefore, we have proposed that any hatred and intolerance should be categorised as criminal actions if we want to prevent the spread of terrorism.

"Our terrorism law is considered [among] the weakest in the world," he admitted, arguing it is viewed as "reactive", focusing on events "after the fact". He called for more pro-active actions to prevent terrorism and cited the enduring influence of jailed terrorism convict Abu Bakar Bashir as an example.

"Bashir's actions are embedding hate against the government and community leaders," said Ansyaad. "At the same time, prison is still weak in controlling this."

Rejecting radical ideology

The discussion was attended by Vice Foreign Minister Dino Patti Djalal , Nadhlatul Ulama(NU) leader Said Aqil Sirodj and representatives from various embassies.

Dino said the nation should be firm in responding to ISIS' growth and Indonesian citizens returning home from fighting in Syria.

"We have learned from the experience of those ex-Indonesian jihadists returning from Afghanistan who were responsible for the Bali bombing," he said. "All elements of Indonesia have agreed to reject ISIS's ideology ."

At NU – with an estimated 30 million members -- no one supports ISIS, Said assured the gathering, adding any found doing so must be expelled from NU.

With more than 2,000 NU pesantrens throughout Indonesia, all of them agree ISIS's ideology is not Islamic. "ISIL's ideology is condemned by God and by the Qur'an. We should avoid it in any way we can," said Said.

Yusuf Aminudin, an NU leader in Jakarta, said Islam is a religion with love and intelligence.

"Islam carries the values of humanity, and also has the goal of creating peace. I urge all Muslims to love your homeland of Indonesia by keeping ISIS away from the archipelago," he said.”

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The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) does not represent Muslims.

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