Jakarta. Evidence of intolerance and radicalism in Bogor, West Java, shows that the city has transformed into a breeding ground for terrorism, new research from Jakarta-based human rights group Setara Institute shows, which connected the renowned Bogor Agricultural University with the activities of the recently banned Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, or HTI, organization.
"While Bogor used to serve as a transit area for radical groups, it has now transformed into an incubator area [for terrorism] […] Bogor has experienced quite a serious radicalization process," Muhammad Syaquillah, a Setara Institute researcher, told reporters during a press conference in Jakarta.
In their preliminary study on intolerance and potential for radicalism in Bogor and Depok, also in West Java, Setara Institute listed around 20 suspected Indonesian terrorists who originally come from Bogor from terrorist incidents that have occurred since 2002.
The list included Rohim, who was a suspect in the Kampung Melayu suicide bombing that took place in May, and Sunakim, who was a suspect in the 2016 attack in Thamrin, Central Jakarta.
Hari Pebrianto, a researcher at the One Justice Foundation (Yayasan Satu Keadilan) in Bogor, also touched on the fact that both Bogor and Depok are "buffer cities" where a large portion of inhabitants are residents who spend their productive hours in the capital, Jakarta.
"These empty spaces are utilized by intolerant groups to spread their ideologies, with three main identified areas where radicalization is propagated – mosques, college campuses and Islamic boarding schools," Hari said.
Bogor has also been designated as a military training area for radical groups, including Islamic State and Laskar Jihad. Setara's research attributed this location choice to logistics and access, and high support for an Islamic Caliphate among citizens its residents.
In a 2011 study – "The Face of Islamic Defenders" – Setara Institute found that 46 percent of Bogor residents expressed approval for an Islamic caliphate.
Furthermore, Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) has also served as the center of movement for the recently banned Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), who denounced democracy and promoted the establishment of a global caliphate.
According to Setara Institute’s vice chairperson, Bonar Tigor Naipospos, there is a lack of awareness among municipalities and district governments to tackle the issue of rising intolerance and spread of radicalism in their cities.
"The local governments are reinforcing intolerance, and at times even acting as the perpetrators [...] [We find that] municipalities still consider terrorism as an issue for the central government," Tigor said.
He added that there is a strong linkage between intolerance, radicalism and terrorism, and emphasized that "local governments must put an effort to tackle intolerance first and foremost."
While the findings are preliminary, the research serves as a "warning" for both the government and members of the public to think about necessary steps that must follow to put a stop to the increasing intolerance and radicalism, Tigor said.
In 2010, the Bogor administration revoked the building permit for a local church after hard-line Islamists protested the church's presence in their neighborhood.
Setara Institute conducted the study between July and October through covert in-depth interviews and observation methods.