East Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Anas Yusuf, second from right, at a press conference in Surabaya last week. (Antara Photo/M. Risyal Hidayat)

E. Java Police: Officers on Alert After US Security Warning

JANUARY 05, 2015

[This story was updated at 4 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, to add statement from American Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia]

Surabaya, East Java. The East Java Police will do their best to safeguard American interests in and around Surabaya, its chief said late on Sunday, a day after the US embassy in Indonesia issued an alert reportedly related to the Islamic State movement.

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 IS, 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.

The former intelligence chief, who is also a retired four-star general with a Special Forces background, made the statement after meeting with the president at the State Palace.

Call for heightened vigilance

"We have to keep guiding our nation — especially the Muslim population — so that we cannot be made to turn on one another," Hendropriyono said. "Or used by people for political reasons and other interests."

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.

Lin Neumann, managing director at the American Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia (AmCham Indonesia), told the Jakarta Globe on Sunday that no business members had come forward with concerns.

"We take such things seriously," he said, however. "It is important to be cautious when the US embassy issues something like this."

Insp. Gen. Anas Yusuf, the chief of East Java Police, told reporters on Sunday night that he had not been officially informed of the decision by the US embassy to issue a warning, but that his officers would nonetheless secure all vital objects associated with American interests.

"We'll provide the best service we can," Anas said.

No link to AirAsia crash

He added that the US statement did not have anything to with the crash of Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501, which departed from the East Java capital on Dec. 28 and crashed in waters off Kalimantan.

"I am not sure what the problem is, but it's clear that there's no link to AirAsia," the police chief said.

In Jakarta, Hendropriyono added that he believed the government should continue to take the threat of IS seriously.

"What we know is that ... this threat is a danger to our nation and humanity," he said. "We have to take firm steps in anticipation. We have seen that there are Indonesian nationals who have joined that stream [IS]."

Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini said on Sunday that she had been in contact with local police to anticipate any threats to US citizens in the city, adding that officials were fully aware of what was going on — from fallen trees and floods to people sympathizing with IS.

However, Risma added, if a threat or would-be perpetrators would be coming from outside of Surabaya, it would be a different situation.

Indonesian troops warned

In a YouTube video uploaded on Dec. 24, an Indonesian IS fighter warns the nation’s security forces that his comrades would be happy to “slaughter” them “one by one” as part of the IS attempt to implement Shariah law in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation state.

“We’ve heard that you want to help the coalition forces, to eliminate the Caliphate. But know that we are truly happy to hear this. Because this means that, God willing, the meeting between you and us will be expedited by God,” a man says in Indonesian in the 4.01-minute long clip.

Intelligence officials have said at least 300 Indonesians are fighting with IS, but estimates vary widely.