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Indonesian official warns of uncontrollable explosives distribution

Publication Date : 30-10-2012


The Indonesian National Counterterrorism Agency, or BNPT, has warned against the lack of control over the circulation of explosive devices following the confiscation of several ready-to-use bombs — each containing high explosives — in recent terrorist raids.

BNPT secretary Air Marshal Chairul Akbar said yesterday that it was easy to obtain explosive materials in Indonesia, with many people using them in their daily activities.

"People buy explosive materials for fishing and mining activities. Even children can access material from [illegally made] fireworks," Akbar said.

"Because of that, the terrorists know how to easily obtain the devices they need for an attack."

He also said that it would be difficult for the BNPT and other agencies to monitor the circulation of explosives given the wide use of the goods in question.

Under the law, illegal possession of explosives can carry with it a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. However, law enforcement in this area seems lacking.

"The BNPT has no authority to limit the distribution of explosives. This is the police's task," said Akbar.

The National Police's Densus 88 counterterrorism unit arrested 11 suspected terrorists this weekend in separate raids in Jakarta; Bogor, West Java; Madiun, East Java; and Surakarta, Central Java.

The police confiscated several live bombs, bomb-making materials and manuals and firearms from the suspects' homes.

The finding of the explosives has raised questions over how the authorities enforce limits and monitor the distribution of explosives from factories to the market.

There are at least 10 companies in Indonesia that manufacture explosives, mostly for use in the mining and defence sectors.

However, there are also indications of smuggled explosive devices circulating in the country from the southern Philippines — an area plagued by decades of separatist conflict that has recently seen progress toward peaceful resolution with the government.

Many of Indonesia's terrorists have been exposed to separatist groups in the area through training.

Akbar acknowledged that the fight against terrorism was far from over following the recent raids that exposed the existence of a new terrorist group.

The police alleged that the arrested suspects belonged to a group called the Harakah Sunni for Indonesian Society, or Hasmi.

However, experts have questioned Hasmi's role as a terrorist group, given its lack of a reputation for radicalism.

The group's profile remains shrouded in mystery after the police said yesterday that the group was not the Bogor-based Harakah Sunniyyah for Indonesian Society that shared the "Hasmi" acronym.

"So far, we have not seen any relation between the Harakah Sunni for Indonesian with the Harakah Sunniyyah for Indonesian Society," said National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar.

Saepudin, the spokesman for the Bogor-based group, said the Hasmi that the police referred to was not his organisation.

"It has different name. That is what I should clarify here," he said.

Saepudin said that the organisation he represented had nothing to do with the arrests, although three of the men were arrested just 2 kilometres away from his organisation's headquarters.

He also denied any link to the arrested suspects, claiming that the group had no such members.

The police, according to Amar, will also look into the information provided by terrorism experts who claimed Abu Hanafiah, the alleged leader of the Hasmi group, was a student of Noordin M. Top, a Malaysian who was one of the masterminds of the 2002 Bali bombing.


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