Australia Updates Indonesia Travel Advice After US Warning

JANUARY 06, 2015

[This story was updated at 10:24 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, to add statement from National Police chief]

Jakarta. Even as Vice President Jusuf Kalla said on Monday — in response to a US embassy statement — that Indonesia was not facing any imminent security threat, Australia has updated its travel advice to include the US warning.

Mentioning the US security alert that was issued on Saturday, the Australian government says in its travel advice for Indonesia: "We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Indonesia, including Bali, at this time due to the high threat of terrorist attack."

The advice was updated on Monday.

In a reaction to the news of the Australian measure, the chief of National Police told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday night that there was no reason for concern.

"Indonesia is safe," Gen. Sutarman said firmly, adding that there were no indications of an imminent threat from known terror networks.

Australian media quoted Foreign Minister Julie Bishop as saying on Tuesday that her country was monitoring the security situation in Indonesia "very closely."

“We work very closely with the Indonesian security and intelligence and law enforcement agencies,” The Australian news portal quoted the minister as saying. “We have seen incidents in the past where Australians have been killed; We all remember the two Bali bombings where Australians were killed. So the threat of terrorist activity anywhere in the world remains.”

The embassy’s security warning was issued on Saturday for hotels and banks in Surabaya associated with the United States.

“The US Embassy has been made aware of a potential threat against US-associated hotels and banks in Surabaya, Indonesia,” a statement on the embassy website said. “The US Embassy recommends heightened vigilance and awareness of one’s surroundings when visiting such facilities.”

The statement did not expand on the nature of the threat.

In response, the Indonesian vice president said there was no need to worry about the security situation in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation.

“Every country has the right to issue a warning for its citizens, it’s up to them,” Kalla said. “Maybe it was based on one of their intelligence reports, it’s fine with us — it’s just like when we issue a travel warning for our people,” Kalla said in Jakarta on Monday.

Kalla insisted that Indonesia was safe.

“Do you see any trouble? We only have the AirAsia trouble and that’s an extraordinary situation,” Kalla said, referring to the crash of AirAsia flight QZ8501 on Dec. 28.

However, A.M. Hendropriyono, a former chief of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), said on Monday that the issuance of the alert was related to the threat emanating from activities of the Islamic State movement, which is outlawed in Indonesia but does have sympathizers here.

“[The warning] is related to ISIS activity. From our own threat analysis it is clear that ISIS is still present,” said Hendropriyono, who is currently an adviser to the administration of President Joko Widodo.

The Islamic State movement is commonly known in Indonesia as ISIS, which stands for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Indonesia, especially the resort island of Bali, is a popular holiday destination for Australians.

There were 88 Australians among the 202 people who perished in the Oct. 12, 2002, Bali bombings. Almost two years later, on Sept. 9, 2004, a car bomb attack on the Australian embassy in Jakarta killed nine Indonesians, including the suicide bomber. The second series of bombings in Bali, on Oct. 1, 2005, left 20 people dead, including four Australians.