A child views a poster hanging in a government office in Depok, West Java, says ‘Reject the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)’. (Antara Photo/Indrianto Eko Suwarso)

Information on Terrorist Threat Warning Not Being Shared: Officials


JANUARY 08, 2015

Jakarta. Indonesia’s intelligence chief reiterated on Wednesday that authorities have yet to see an actual terrorist attack materialize following a security warning from the United States and a travel advice message from Australia.

Marciano Norman, chief of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), said “the situation in Surabaya [East Java] is safe. The provincial police chief and regional officials have conducted steps [to increase security] in response, but in a proportional way.

“The public need not worry, because we have taken precautionary steps. However, we will still act on this information.”

The Australian travel warning was issued just days after the US Embassy in Jakarta issued a security warning for US-affiliated hotels, banks and businesses in Surabaya, East Java.

It was unclear on Wednesday what the specific nature of the threat was that prompted the US and Australian Embassies’ concerns. Such warnings are typically issued only after judging intelligence of a threat as credible and weighing potential political repercussions with a host government.

It is also unclear why it had taken Australia four days to issue its own message after the US warden message on Saturday.

Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno said it was the countries’ rights to issue warnings for their respective citizens.

Australia and the United States “are simply reminding their citizens to be more careful, so it doesn’t mean that there is a threat. We also have the right to remind our own citizens to be careful when visiting another country,” the minister said.

Tedjo said he instructed security forces to increase alertness. However, he said Indonesia was not aware of a specific threat.

“There have been no reports from the National Intelligence Agency or the National Police, but that doesn’t mean we ignore it, we need to be more alert,” Tedjo said on Wednesday.

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.”

Australia has not, however, upgraded its alert level for Indonesia beyond Surabaya.

The US Embassy’s security warning was issued on Saturday for hotels and banks in Surabaya associated with the US.

“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 said on its website. “The US Embassy recommends heightened vigilance and awareness of one’s surroundings when visiting such facilities.”

Indonesia has been the site of several major cases of terrorism, which target mostly Westerners, including the 2002 Bali Bombings which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

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.

Indonesia has since seen a drop in terrorism cases, following a decade of intense crackdown on militant groups. In recent months, however, authorities have raised concerns over a possible new wave of potential jihadist sympathizers.

In total, an estimated 514 Indonesians have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside Islamic State militants. Indonesia has also detained several suspects believed to have trained at terrorist paramilitary camps in Aceh and Poso, Central Sulawesi.