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Yudhoyono warns of security threats ahead of Xmas

Publication Date : 13-12-2013


Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday warned of possible security threats during the Christmas and New Year celebrations as a result of the intensifying political competition ahead of the 2014 elections.

Yudhoyono said that although he was confident that the political parties elites would be able to campaign peacefully, he warned that Christmas and New Year could be used by certain political candidates to smear their competitors.

“I received information from the chief of police that certain elements are currently cooking up plans to create disorder [but] they are being watched closely. It appears that the plan could be related to the elections,” Yudhoyono said at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in East Jakarta before leaving for Japan on working visit.

The President said it was normal for political tension to increase ahead of the election, but he urged all parties and politicians to only begin their campaigns when the official campaigning period started.

“But, it is possible that there will be certain number of people with ill intentions. As such, members of the public must be alert and law enforcement agencies and security personnel must work harder,”
Yudhoyono said.

National Police chief Gen. Sutarman said the police had been monitoring what could be deemed as terrorist activity.

“There have been some movements from one region to another. There is a possibility that this could be related to, for example, efforts to assemble explosives,” he said.

Sutarman revealed that some areas targeted included Jakarta, Central Sulawesi and South Sumatra.

As such, Sutarman said, people living in those areas must be vigilant, especially during the Christmas and New Year’s celebration.

He also added that the police could be targeted.

“Terrorists are now scattered and not working under any particular cell. Their aim is to make people feel unsafe. At first the foreign symbol [Western] was their target, but now any other symbols, for example the police,” he said.

The National Police, Sutarman said, were ready to respond to any possible security threat.

“Just stay calm; security measures will be heightened during the upcoming season.”

The police arrested several men for making and supplying the firearms believed to have been used in recent attacks on police personnel. It is believed that the men clandestinely operated an illicit weapons factory in Cipacing, Sumedang, West Java.

Late last month, the police arrested a suspected terrorist, who was alleged to have launched an attack on two police officers in Bekasi on the outskirts of Jakarta, in 2012.

In late August, the police also arrested Khoirul Ikhwan, a bomb maker for the foiled plot to bomb the Myanmar Embassy in Jakarta, and several other suspects linked to the plot in a series of raids in Greater Jakarta.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto, however, toned down both Yudhoyono and Sutarman’s concerns, saying such warning and security measures were normal ahead of the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

He said that such a warning was similar to annual Operasi Lilin (Operation Candle), a seasonal crackdown on traffic violations.

“The President also reminded people [of a potential disturbance] last year,” he said.


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