TNI leaving barracks to root out radicalism

Officials from the National Antiterrorism Agency (BNPT), the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police agreed that the TNI must take the initiative domestically to curb religious radicals.

“We have demanded the TNI’s participation through their vast network of territorial commands to persuade individuals or groups to abandon radical teachings,” BNPT chief Ansyaad Mbai.

“For example, the TNI might visit a cleric who spreads hate speech and radicalism during Friday prayers, and persuade him to deliver more peaceful sermons.”

The TNI, Ansyaad said, could also enlist the Babinsa, non-commissioned officers assigned to villages to promote development, to counter radicals.

The decision to involve the TNI was emphasized during an inaugural BNPT coordination meeting on Tuesday that was attended by all 151 of the TNI’s military district (Kodim)commanders and around 350 district police chiefs.

The meeting was also attended by Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto, TNI chief Adm. Agus Suhartono, Army chief Gen. Pramono Edhie Wibowo and National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo.

Despite the fall of the Soeharto’s authoritarian New Order in 1998, the TNI’s leaders continue to believe that internal threats to the nation’s stability are greater than external threats.

Ansyaad emphasized that the TNI would not have the authority to detain people, which was the sole remit of the National Police as the enforcers of security.

“Don’t get me wrong. The TNI is not authorized to detain people, but they can grab hold of somebody who might harm others, and then transfer him or her to the police for prosecution,” Ansyaad said.

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