- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 4, 2004

SEMARANG, Indonesia — With explosions and mock gunfire, Indonesia opened an Australian-funded police training center Saturday to show terrorists that the Asia-Pacific region is united against them.

At a ceremony attended by diplomats and dozens of uniformed police from around the region, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri banged a gong to declare the Jakarta Center for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC) open.

After the opening ceremony, black-clad Indonesian anti-terrorist officers demonstrated their expertise by freeing so-called “hostages” and “killing” pretend terrorists in a mock hotel and passenger jet.

Australia is providing about $27 million over five years to support the center, which shares quarters with a police academy in the capital of Java, Semarang.

“It sends a clear message to those terrorists who want to carry out their evil acts in this region that we are totally united in the fight against terrorism and we are totally united in the fight against transnational crime,” Sen. Christopher Ellison, Australia’s minister for justice and customs, told the gathering.

The center builds on cooperation established between the Indonesian police and Australian Federal Police, who conducted a joint investigation into the October 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 persons.

More than 30 people have since been arrested, including three ringleaders who have been sentenced to death.

Gen. Da’i Bachtiar, Indonesia’s national police chief, said the new center’s first class in post-bomb forensic analysis is under way with 31 participants from 17 Asia-Pacific countries.

“The goal of the JCLEC is to assist the police from different countries to build regional capacity to be professional in countering transnational crime,” Gen. Bachtiar said.

The audience included police from Southeast Asia, South Korea, Australia, Canada and East Timor.

“I’m hoping that by starting the operation of this center, it will contribute a positive impact of stable security in this region, if not internationally,” Gen. Bachtiar said.

Australian police will be involved in the training, Mr. Ellison said. Along with forensics, there will be courses in management of serious crime investigations and courses related to money laundering and trafficking in drugs and people, he said.

There is an “increasing overlap” between those transnational crimes and terrorism, he said.

The center has a railway carriage and a ferry in a small canal, in addition to the mock four-story hotel and twin-engine jetliner used by the Indonesian anti-terrorist squad for its demonstration.

The officers dropped from a helicopter onto the hotel roof after “terrorists” took diplomats hostage and set off an explosive device. The officers also smashed their way through the emergency doors of the jet to battle terrorists there.

Australia pledged support for the training facility during a February regional counterterrorism conference in Bali.

Gen. Bachtiar appealed for wider support of the center during his opening remarks. “I’m hoping that assistance and full support can be made available from friendly nations to further the development of JCLEC training on a continual basis,” he said.

Saturday’s opening of the center came a day after Indonesia and Australia opened the Transnational Crime Center at police headquarters in Jakarta. Its purpose is to increase the coordination of intelligence, information and data sharing.

Police blamed the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah for the Bali attacks and a series of others, including the bombing of the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta that killed 12 persons last August.

Several suspects in both attacks remain at large.

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