Indonesia's terrorist hunt bears fruit
The arrest Saturday of Abu Dujana, who was implicated in the 2002 nightclub bombing in Bali, points to Indonesia's aggressive new police tactics.
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Although most observers are quick to credit Indonesian authorities with the successful arrests, officials here concede that they have received significant help from foreign agencies such as the Australian Federal Police and the FBI.Skip to next paragraph
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After the October 2002 Bali bombing, Australia's police force sent dozens of specialists in forensics investigations and counterterrorism to assist with the investigation.
"We couldn't have done it without proper detective work," says one foreign police officer involved in training, "but they did need some help."
Indonesia's Detachment 88 has been particularly instrumental in tracking down the Bali bombers. The powerful police contingent, which received training and funding from the CIA, FBI, and former US Special Forces, was established in 2004 specifically to combat domestic terrorism. "88" is a direct reference to the 88 Australians who died in the October 2002 Bali bombing
The series of police arrests this year, based on what police call "forward intelligence," stands in contrast to the more traditional police approach of pursuing leads based on evidence that followed immediately after the October 2002 attacks.
"They learned to anticipate rather than react," says a Western security official.
Shifts in the political landscape in Indonesia helped as well. Many senior Muslim leaders were skeptical that JI even existed. It was only in 2003 that Indonesia passed an antiterrorist law. A videotaped confession by suicide bombers in November 2005 helped persuade senior Islamic clerics that JI had penetrated some of the nation's pesantren, or Islamic boarding schools. "It called for a whole shift in mind-set," says Nong Darol Mahmada, who works for a liberal Muslim thinktank.
JI's internal divisions
Analysts say the arrest will further weaken JI's military wing. Many JI members, analysts say, have turned away from large-scale attacks that cause collateral damage to Muslim civilians in favor of traditional proselytizing, charity, and attacking domestic, as opposed to international, targets to keep themselves off the international law-enforcement agenda.
"JI may not be a problem in the short term," says Abuza, "It's the next 40 years that worries me."
Former members say that JI has now split into several factions. A hard-line minority continues to support attacks against "soft" targets such as those involving civilians. But analysts such as Ms. Jones of the ICG say that many members remain opposed to terrorist attacks. The removal of Dujana, some analysts says, is likely to further exacerbate internal tensions within Indonesia's militant Islamist communities.
According to Nasir Abas, a former JI member in Jakarta, many members increasingly saw the terrorist campaign as counterproductive and likely to draw unwanted retribution from Indonesian security forces.
"Dujana was a charismatic figure who bridged many of the factions and could unite the organization," says Abuza.