Category Archives: Terrorism & Terrorists

Norway shootings: Anders Behring Breivik

Indonesian non reactions to the killing spree by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway.

There has been little Indonesian reaction to the Norwegian massacre – the most searched for items on Detik’s search engine remain mostly old favourites:

  2. sex
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Apart from standard official statements; Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said

We are very shocked and dismayed by the incidents in Norway. We condemn the shooting and bombing that have killed civilians. We express deep condolences to the victims, their families, and the Norwegian government

The apparent fact that the killer was on an “anti Muslim crusade” has seemed to excite little interest within the country.

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Cirebon Mosque Bomb

The bomb went off at Al-Dzikr mosque inside the Cirebon police complex, injuring the police chief AKBP Herukoco and a number of other policemen.

The bomber was killed, making it a suicide attack, as he had the bomb strapped to his waist. He is believed to have sat behind the police chief during Friday prayers.

The bomb appears to have been of the nail-filled variety.

Cirebon Mosque Bomb is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesian hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta and near Jakarta airport, and more.

Book & Mail Bombs: Bombs Galore

Lots of bombs going off, and bomb scares; a renewed effort by terrorist gangs or part of the vast conspiracy to divert our attention from real issues.

There have been five or six small bombs, mostly hollowed out “book bombs”, going off since 15th March in Jakarta and surrounds.

Ulil Abshar Abdalla
Ulil Abshar Abdalla

The first target was Ulil Abshar Abdalla of Komunitas Utan Kayu, from the Jaringan Islam Liberal (JIL, Liberal Islam Network), also a figure in the president’s Partai Demokrat.

Ahmad Dhani, flamboyant singer, man’s man, and (once) darling of proseltysing American liberals for his anti-hate stance, was another target.

Other targets have been counter-terrorist policeman Goris Mere, and Yapto Suryosumarno, who is the leader of the secular nationalist oriented thug youth organisation Pemuda Pancasila.

A fifth, small bomb, was found in a residential complex in Cibubur, Bogor, and was set off by police after having been moved to a field.

Since the first five bombs there have been a number of false alarms and fake bombs in places as unlikely as a pizza parlour in Surabaya, with police urging people – Don’t Panic. Today there was a bomb scare in Cilandak, Jakarta, but it seems a hoax.

Borrowing from Treespotter, the mainstream theory is that the targets are all liberal Muslims, or enemies of true Islam, and opponents of militant and violent actions otherwise called by some ‘terrorism‘.

The inevitable non mainstream theory is that it is all a conspiracy to deflect attention from the SBY Shock Horror Wikileaks Scandal, and other national and political problems.

On the first theory, the head of National Antiterror Agency (BNPT) Ansyaad Mbai says its probably “old players” connected to Bali bomber Imam Samudra, who went to the firing squad in 2008, who have managed to recruit fresh blood.

A.C. Manullang
A.C. Manullang

Speaking for the second theory and in direct opposition to Mbai is former state intelligence (Badan Intelijen Negara (BIN)) chief A.C. Manullang, who says that the bombs are part of a sinister “grand strategy” to paint Islam as violent. The terrorists are working hand in hand with intelligence agencies, to carry out a program of “deception intelligence”, he says, and the only matter of interest is who is behind it all and who is the sponsor.

This incidentally is what Manullang always says regarding terrorism issues; at other times he has said the United States uses the terrorism/Al Qaeda issue as an excuse to invade countries and further its grand design – “globalisation”.

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Heaven Scent


Abu Bakar Baasyir

To mark the end of the Muslim fasting month detainees and police officers at Jakarta police remand centre held joint Salat Id prayers, and afterwards the customary meal to celebrate Idul Fitri.

Among the 30 or so prisoners at Bareskrim Mabes Polri some of the more famous detainees who took part:

Fraud suspect Mukhammad Misbakhun was over-joyed at being in the presence of Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, speaking of the old cleric in rapturous terms:

I cry every time I hear the sound of him taking a breath and praying.

He’s a total Muslim. I can smell the scent of heaven when I’m with him.

Muhammad Misbakhun

Muhammad Misbakhun

In the state prosecutor’s case against him, Mukhammad Misbakhun is accused of having falsified documents in order to obtain a $22.5 million Letter of Credit from Bank Century (now Bank Mutiara), for his trading company PT Selalang Prima International.

Misbakhun was in 2009 a failed candidate in the national elections, running for a seat in the Pasuruan-Probolinggo district, for the Justice Party/Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS).

Meanwhile after prayers were held detainees were allowed visitors; the most popular jailbird was Baasyir, who had a long line of admirers, mostly people who had brought him food. One of these admirers, named Endang, complained of having to wait a long time to meet her hero: [1] [2]

I came to give him Lebaran food, poor him if he’s hungry.

Heaven Scent is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book domestic flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesia hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.

DFAT Indonesia Travel Advice

Australian travel advice for Indonesia, the threat of angry taxi drivers; comparative threat levels.

In DFAT’s (Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) most recent update to its travel advisory page for Indonesia a new danger of visiting the country is noted, that is: Crime (confrontations between taxi drivers in Bali): [1]

A dispute between rival taxi companies in Bali turned violent during a recent protest. While such incidents are rare and passengers have not been specifically targeted, you should exercise appropriate caution. If you are caught up in a confrontation between taxi drivers, you should seek to leave the taxi and the immediate area if it is safe to do so.

Apart from angry taxi drivers (local taxi companies and the Jakarta-based Blue Bird company are slugging it out for market share) the threat of rabies on Bali (and Nias) was also especially noted.

DFAT concludes its report with its main concern regarding Indonesia: terrorism:

Ask yourself whether, given your own personal circumstances, you’re comfortable travelling to Indonesia knowing there is a very high threat from terrorism and you may be caught up in a terrorist attack. Ask yourself whether travel could be deferred or an alternative destination chosen.

In general DFAT through its Smartraveller service uses five categories to judge the danger level for Australian travellers:

  1. Be alert to own security
  2. Exercise caution
  3. High degree of caution
  4. Reconsider your need to travel
  5. Do not travel

Indonesia is listed in the second worst category:

We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to…

Other countries which are included in this grouping:

  • Ethiopia
  • Eritrea
  • Mauritania
  • Angola
  • Haiti
  • Pakistan
  • Nigeria
  • Liberia
  • DR Congo
  • Yemen
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Algeria
  • Madagascar
  • Zimbabwe
  • Kyrgyz Republic

DFAT Indonesia Travel Advice is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book domestic flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesia hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.

Interesting Times

A smouldering civil war among the elites, Army power plays, and Chinese scapegoats.

This stems from a conversation I had just after the Christmas/New Year’s holidays with an old gentleman of my acquaintance. This man has held senior posts in government, both elected and otherwise, since early in the Suharto regime, he is a serious man who quite literally knows where many of the bodies are buried and understands well how Indonesian society and politics work. For some time now he has been warning me that Indonesia is headed for serious trouble and it will come sooner rather than later. I have until now dismissed his comments as those of a somewhat cranky old man disillusioned with how the younger generation are behaving and have pointed to the remarkable “stability” and economic success Indonesia has been undergoing lately. I am no longer of that opinion and have begun to accept, depressingly, what he has been saying.

I will condense his thesis (which he has written in a private 12 page summary for some friends and associates who have sought his views on the current state of affairs, he was kind enough to let me have a copy) as well as I can and I welcome any commentators who have a deeper understanding than I do of what is happening in Indonesia today. For myself I have come around to the realisation that although I live here and keep myself up to date with Indonesian news I don’t really know what makes this country tick.

It is as follows:

Under the thin veneer of the current Indonesian success story there lie extremely serious stress fractures in this society. Some people point to terrorism as a major concern, my friend dismisses this as actually something that can be and indeed is being contained by the Indonesian state. The deep divisions among the elites of this society however are something that cannot be so easily resolved and will cause a major earthquake if they are not handled with more determination, something that the current President seems incapable or perhaps unwilling so to do.

These elites in business, politics, the media, the police and the armed forces are at this very moment in a state of undeclared civil war, quite literally so in the case of the last two. Beneath these elites is a seething mass of poverty stricken, depressed citizenry which is being stoked up by extremely dangerous individuals that have past form in these matters and who could cause a tsunami to erupt in the streets at any time.

The current hysteria about demonstrations leading to disorder and the police mobilising 10,000 officers to handle demos that end up with less than half that number of protesters may seem excessive but I am assured that behind the scenes there are in fact sinister elements (you don’t need me to tell you who they are) who are gearing up to actually turn one of these events nasty and right now they are simply biding their time for the right opportunity.

I alluded to the army/police split earlier and this is a pivotal element in all of this. The Army should not be dismissed as a busted flush in Indonesian politics, they have been licking their wounds since 1998 and have been getting more and more alienated from the current government.

Anti-corruption drives, divesting the Army of their business interests, giving increased security roles to the Police have all been causing great resentment among the Army high command and the rank and file and they are starting to make some rather ominous comments about this state of affairs. They are starting to get restless and indeed I understand that the head of the TNI dropped some serious hints that the Army wasn’t happy about how Indonesian politics were proceeding during a major speech in December (my apologies, I haven’t been able to link this).

If anyone thinks that it is ludicrous to suggest that the Army could even contemplate trying to get into power again one should only remember that of the three tickets for the presidential election last year, all of them had a “retired” general on them. It was only ten short years ago that Thailand seemed like a peaceful democracy, until one morning the citizens of Bangkok woke up to find tanks on the street.

Coupled with all of this is Indonesia’s nasty little attraction to running amok among the Chinese and this is where all the relentless media attention given to the recent corruption scandals come in. You must always remember that the media reporting these events are not dispassionate, neutral observers but are in fact owned by the various factions in the ongoing political disputes.

The big unspoken thread that runs through all these scandals so deliciously served up to the masses with a nod and a wink,

“say no more but you know what I’m getting at don’t you?”


“Look the Chinese are robbing us again!”.

All the big names in these scandals, Artalyta, Tantula, Anggodo are of course ethnic Chinese, the message being subtly sent to the disaffected in society couldn’t be clearer (when my friend mentioned Artalyta initially he forgot her name and referred to “the woman who was jailed”, I thought he meant Prita, the lady being prosecuted for defamation but he corrected me and then went on to point out the media attention and popular support Prita received, no coincidence of course that she was a jilbab wearing woman being persecuted by a Chinese owned, Christian hospital), the mobs will know what is expected of them when they get the go-ahead.

This leads us to the last point; the trigger, who knows where it will come? It could be some god-forsaken place in the back end of no-where, a crowd of disaffected warung owners protesting at yet another IndoMaret opening in their kampung, don’t laugh, I have been told by several people that there is a lot of tension surrounding these franchises springing up everywhere (“and who do you think is opening them?” one not so subtle informant asked me). It could be workers laid off as a result of the Chinese/Indonesian free trade agreement (another deep source of resentment) or it could be something as stupid as a bunch of football hooligans kicking off.

Whatever the cause the woeful Indonesian police will find themselves unable to handle it and ask the Army for help, the Army will reply

We’d love to help you but we’re a little bit busy right now, call us back when it’s all spiralled out of control and we’ll take over

So what do posters think, am I being over-pessimistic, is my associate simply a grumpy old man? Or is there something in what he is saying and that we may soon be living in interesting times?

Interesting Times is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, which also features listings of Indonesia hotels, special discounts on Bali hotels, Kuta hotels, Ubud hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.

Jakarta Hotel Security

Jakarta HotelSix months after the bombings, is it “business as usual” for Jakarta hotels’ security?

Fast Track logo

Fast Track, the travel show on satellite/cable TV channel BBC World News, featured Indonesia recently: one report covered tourism (especially diving) and reconstruction in Aceh five years after the tsunami, another about hotel security and terrorism.

I must admit that I watched with some trepidation. “Fast Track” seems fairly open-minded, but here was a travel show that seemed like it would once again reinforce stereotypes that a) Visitors to Indonesia were at great risk of attack and natural disasters, and b) Indonesia was full of terrorists.

Anti Terrorist
Move along, nothing to see here… Jakarta’s Anti-Terrorist Police on a training drill in Bali

The story about hotel security – watch it here – discussed how hotels in recent years have become attractive targets for terrorists trying to attack Western people and/or businesses.

Unfortunately, all the major 5-star hotels in Jakarta apparently declined to be interviewed, with only the relatively small and obscure Alila Hotel agreeing to discuss their security procedures.

Alila Hotel, Jakarta
Alila Hotel, Jakarta

So, let us be more helpful to prospective visitors to Jakarta and provide reviews of some of these hotels’ security arrangements. Please share your thoughts below about the following questions:

  1. Is hotel security is a major consideration for you when choosing a place to stay in Jakarta?
  2. (Where applicable) What Jakarta hotels have you stayed at since July 2009, and were their security arrangements sufficiently safe and professional?
  3. In your opinion, has the quality of Jakarta hotels’ security improved since July 2009, or is it the same like before?

N.B. These are not intended to be general hotel reviews as such. You can write them here – and it would be nice if you did – by following these instructions.

Jakarta Hotel Security is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, which also features listings of Indonesia hotels, special discounts on Bali hotels, Kuta hotels, Nusa Dua hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.

Reading More About Indonesia

Indonesia ReaderA review of “The Indonesia Reader”, an anthology of Indonesian history, culture and politics.

This new anthology about Indonesia is a welcome addition to books (like “Culture Shock: Jakarta“) for expats and others who want to improve their knowledge of the archipelago’s history, culture and politics.

The editors have compiled a very wide range of articles and authors, including the current President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, former President Soeharto, Pramoedya Ananta Toer and sporadically controversial Metro TV journalist Desi Anwar.

SBY Soeharto Pramoedya Ananta Toer Desi Anwar

A star studded line-up of authors

Like a long biography, (as the stories are published in chronological order) some of the earlier sections might be a bit heavy and hard going for the casual reader. As such, it is tempting to read the book from finish to start. However, there are several rare articles and some which are published in English for the first time, so there are a number of pleasant surprises, including:

Alfred Russel Wallace

Wallace Line


  • an early article by Alfred Wallace, British naturalist and later the creator of the Wallace Line
  • a story of the 1883 eruption of Krakatau by a Dutch survivor, RA Van Sandick.
  • a history of the very slow Dutch conquest (starting in 1873 and taking at least 30 years) of Aceh, an interesting pre-cursor to later events.

Later sections cover a number of comtemporary subjects including: Indonesian reactions to Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, separatist violence in Ambon, anti-Western terrorism via an interview with Bali bomber Imam Samudera and the new pornography bill.

One man who possibly doesn’t support the Pornography Bill

There are also some rare personal accounts of the 1965-1967 anti-communist massacres and being a “comfort woman” (i.e. sex slave) to Japanese soldiers during World War 2.

I would like to say that it is available at all good bookstores, but to my knowledge you cannot buy it within Indonesia. I got my copy in Australia. It doesn’t retail at all good bookstores for $US25.95; you can buy it on Amazon here or direct from the publisher here.

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Tags: Books, Culture, Desi Anwar, History, Imam Samudra, Krakatoa, Maluku & Ambon (Moluccas), Muhammad Cartoons, Pornography & Porn, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Suharto (Soeharto), Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), Terrorism & Terrorists

I Love You Full

Mbah SuripI loph you full Indonesia, youthful, artistic expressions of nationalism by the roadside.

At a building site for a Lenmarc shopping centre in western Surabaya the fence that separates the site from the road is adorned with mural paintings celebrating the 64th anniversary of Indonesian independence day in August. The display is sponsored by Lenmarc and the pictures are still there as some attempt to relieve the ugliness of the scene.

The common themes in the paintings and how the artists view the Indonesian nation and their own patriotism, apart from the obvious red and white national flag:

  • singer Mbah Surip
  • anti-terrorism
  • Lenmarc and shopping
  • batik
  • wayang
  • pluralism and unity
  • Vespa scooters
  • dangdut music
  • Superman

Among other things.

Click image below to watch a video slideshow of them:

Murals Video

Or view them singly:

I Love You Full is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, which also features listings of Indonesia hotels, special discounts on Bali hotels, Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.

Tags: Art, Batik, Dangdut, Mbah Surip, National Flag, Nationalism, Paintings, Photos, Shopping, Students, Surabaya, Terrorism & Terrorists, Vespa, Videos, Wayang, Youth

Funeral Rites & Etiquette

The protests and furore over allowing the burial of killed extremists in and around Solo.


The furore over the burial or not of terrorists like Urwah in Javanese soil has not so far got the IM attention it deserves, so perhaps I can distract myself from the grimness of being back at work with some observations, viz.

First, all hail the villagers who have stood up to protest plans to taint their tiny kampungs by planting a mass-murderer’s corpse therein. It’s about time we heard from the normal decent people of this country, a large plurality, surely, and hopefully a majority.

But more curious by far is the role of the police, one of whom was quoted as saying that the vermin ‘have to be buried,’ (true, but Bantar Gebang rubbish tip in Bekasi would be a more appropriate destination) and then, with that aplomb and thrust we have come to expect from certain security personnel, ‘we’ll see what happens!’

I’m sure we will. If the opponents of the burials are swept aside, we shall see sleazy fanatics of the Baasyir sort showing up to laud the terrorists, with maybe a soft aside about how their methods were a bit off whilst their hearts were in the right place.

Without having spoken to the villagers, I can’t be sure but it is highly probable that their objections are not so much to the insertion of a rancid cadaver in the grave-yard but to the attendant celebrations by friends of murder, and ‘coincidental’ visits on burying day by Dorce the Drag-Queen and similar undesirables, grubbing about for Islamonazi fans.

Instead of ‘waiting and seeing,’ the Police could grasp the nettle and win praise from all but the goatbeards, by simply getting the family members of the unlamented together, over-seeing a night-time rels-only service, and declaring that any ‘cleric’ who showed up speechifying would be given a fast ride out of town and charged with incitement.

There are good cops in Indonesia. We saw some of them in action when that filthy brute Sheikh Puji was arrested in a neat swoop. Unfortunately, others are not so sharp – a high-ranking Jakarta officer almost immediately condemned his smart Javanese colleagues for upsetting the numbskulls who dwell there and ignore pedophilia for the sake of Puji’s largesse.

Let’s hope the sensible brass prevail this time, and ensure these creeps go to their graves without pomp or circumstance.

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Tags: Abu Bakar Baasyir, Javanese, Police Force, Surakarta (Solo), Terrorism & Terrorists, The Island of Java