- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2005

JAKARTA — Counterterrorism analysts yesterday blamed complacent security chiefs for failing to protect Bali, accusing police and army commanders of squabbling over foreign aid that flooded to Jakarta after attacks on the resort in 2002.

“No leader could be forgiven for the ill-designed policies and lack of purpose of his government after the series of terrorist attacks in Indonesia,” said Aleksius Jemadu, head of the Department of International Relations at Bandung University.

“The general mind-set among Indonesian government officials is that the issue of terrorism is mainly perceived as a typical American and European agenda,” Mr. Jemadu wrote in the English-language Jakarta Post newspaper. “They think that there is no need for the Indonesian government to trouble itself with the agenda of other people.”

American, Australian and other Western financial aid was made available to the world’s largest Muslim nation after the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 persons including 88 Australians.

Critics of President Susilo Bombang Yudhoyono’s government said the money has not been used effectively.

“Indonesia’s security policy on terrorism is at best fragmented and very much characterized by a competition for power and money,” Mr. Jemadu said. “The police and the Indonesian military want to get their respective shares from the distribution of the anti-terrorism funding given by donor countries.”

Mr. Jemadu’s remarks were echoed by Bantarto Bandoro, editor of the Indonesian Quarterly, produced by the Jakarta Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Bombings on Saturday that killed at least 22 persons at three Bali restaurants “further exposed Indonesia’s weakness in its intelligence networking and highlight the fact that the country is the region’s weakest link in the fight against terror,” Mr. Bandoro said.

“The attacks have further strengthened international perceptions of Indonesia as a very unsafe country [and] they may support the view that Indonesia is a safe haven for terrorists,” he said. “The government should not delay its pursuit of a more aggressive and indiscriminate strategy against terrorism.”

The 2002 bombings tore the heart out of Bali’s tourist industry. Indonesian authorities, with the help of neighboring countries, were able to capture most of the perpetrators quickly. They also captured suspects in attacks against a Jakarta hotel in 2003 and the Australian Embassy last year.

But Indonesia’s judicial system was criticized for handing a light sentence to Abu Bakar Bashir, the spiritual leader of the regional Islamist movement Jemaah Islamiyah, who is serving two years in jail on minor charges stemming from the 2002 Bali attacks.

Bashir yesterday declared from his prison cell that the latest attacks were a sign of God’s displeasure with the government, which he said should “implement His rules and laws.”

The security forces have appeared powerless to capture Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Mohamed Top, leaders of Jemaah Islamiyah who were blamed for the hotel and embassy attacks and are the suspected masterminds of the bombings Saturday.

Mr. Jemadu and other analysts say that no reliable information is available on the number of Jemaah Islamiyah members, with estimates ranging from several hundred to several thousand, most of them scattered across Indonesia.

Foreign governments have been pressing Indonesia to outlaw the group, but a spokesman expressed reluctance yesterday, saying it would be difficult because of the elusive nature of the group.

Others suggested the government did not want to offend Islamic political parties, which helped bring President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to power.

“Whether the president’s statement that the government will do its utmost to hunt down the perpetrators leads to speedy action will depend partly on the president’s political calculations of the cost and benefits,” Mr. Bandoro said.

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