JAKARTA, Indonesia – JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia should not grow complacent after breaking up a new terror group led by a most-wanted militant because intelligence on extremist groups in the country remains weak and corruption continues to aid terrorist operations, a security think tank said.
The report released by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group on Tuesday said the February raid on a training camp in western Indonesia run by a group calling itself al-Qaida in Aceh and the arrests that followed show the government is taking terrorism seriously, but much more needs to be done.
"Rolling up this network is no mean feat and the Indonesian police, at both local and national levels, deserve credit for their fast work," said Jim Della-Giacoma, the group's Southeast Asia project director. "But no one should be complacent that the job is over."
The group was a splinter of Jemaah Islamiyah, the Southeast Asian offshoot of al-Qaida blamed for deadly bombings in Indonesia in recent years. Since the initial raid on the camp, authorities have killed eight alleged militants with ties to the group and arrested another 48.
The greatest prize for authorities so far has been Dulmatin, a master bomb-maker shot dead last month near the capital, Jakarta. He was wanted for making and priming one of the bombs that killed 202 people in a nightclub strip on Indonesia's Bali island in 2002, and had been assumed to be hiding in the southern Philippines.
The International Crisis Group cited Dulmatin's case as symbolic of some of the problems in intelligence gathering.
"That Dulmatin, one of the region's most wanted terrorists, could leave the Philippines, arrive in Indonesia and live in Jakarta for at least two years without anyone being the wiser suggests that there is still some way to go in improving basic information-gathering and analysis," it said in its report titled "Jihadi Surprise in Aceh."
It said while progress has been made in the last decade in "understanding extremist networks and sharing information across the region about them, the ability to detect their activities remains weak."
A review of the activities of the Aceh group also showed that corruption in Indonesia continues to be a "lubricant" for terrorist activities, the group said. Dulmatin had "no difficulty" obtaining a fake identification card and passport, and other militants in the group used corrupt police contacts to buy weapons, it said.
The group said the government should not grow complacent with the recent arrests and the deaths of Dulmatin and Noordin Top, a Malaysian wanted in connection with five major bombings in Indonesia since 2002 who was killed by police last September.
"Jihadism has taken root in Indonesia," it said. "Jihadi groups do not disappear after waves of arrests; they evolve and mutate, taking on new forms. The killing of a Noordin here or a Dulmatin there does not eliminate the ideology of salafi jihadism; in fact the perceived 'martyrdom' of a few leaders can give the movement new life."
Still it cautioned against using the existence of violent extremists in the country as a "rationale to give arrest and detention powers to agencies other than the police." It warned against a "Singapore-style Internal Security Act that would allow for indefinite preventative detention," saying that could actually lead to greater radicalization.