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Military to have direct involvement in counter-terrorism after new laws pass

ABC News - May 25, 2018

David Lipson The Indonesian Parliament has passed controversial new anti-terrorism laws, handing the military direct involvement in counter-terrorism operations approved by the President.

The legislation creates a number of new offences, including engaging in military training with intent to commit terrorism.

The laws also hand police powers to detain suspects for 21 days without charge. After being charged, suspects could be held for another 200 days to give police time to gather evidence before handing the case to prosecutors.

Indonesian security forces did not want the inclusion of "political motives" or "ideological motives" in the definition of terrorism under the act, claiming it would be too restrictive.

But in the end the full definition was maintained in the bill and it passed through the Indonesian House of Representatives. Critics say the laws are unnecessary and could inflame tensions between the Indonesian military (TNI) and police.

"I think it's highly problematic to involve the army and to involve the Indonesian military more generally in the counter-terrorism effort," Sidney Jones, from the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, told the ABC.

"It's likely to result in a big duplication of effort, particularly on intelligence grounds. It will also probably increase the rivalry between the police and the military."

More detail about the military involvement is expected to be revealed via Presidential Regulation, due within 100 days.

Passage of the laws was fast-tracked after a string of suicide bombings in Surabaya early last week. Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) has been blamed for the attacks, but the group's alleged leader has now condemned them.

Aman Abdurrahman is facing trial over the 2016 Jakarta bombing, where 8 people died. Prosecutors want him to face the firing squad, claiming he established, and now leads, JAD.

But in a defence statement read to the court, Aman condemned the families who bombed churches and police in Surabaya. "They are simply sick people, with desperation in their lives," he told the court.

"I believe it's impossible [the attacks on Churches] were done by people who understand the teachings of Islam. As for the parents who took their children... and blew them up at a police station... Clearly that is barbaric and cruel."

He urged the judges not to hesitate in sentencing him. "I'm not even a bit afraid of the sentence, since I have surrendered my faith to God."

Earlier, a security scare in the court saw heavily-armed elite police cock their assault rifles and take up defensive positions around the defendant.

In a sign of the tension surrounding the case, a small explosion at a nearby construction site was mistaken for a bomb blast.

Journalists and police jumped to their feet as armed police rushed outside to investigate. After several minutes, the case resumed.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-25/indonesia-passes-new-terror-laws-in-wake-of-surabaya-attacks/9801704.

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