"Kill or be killed" in Indonesia

“There are preachers who regularly say in public meetings that it is halal (permissible under Islamic law) to shoot dead the president or kill officials in the Indonesian government — and nothing happens to them.”

True story. But not to worry: they’re only a tiny minority of excremists!

“The police are great at tracking and intercepting new jihadist groups but less effective at entering their thought world,” said Dr Fealy, an expert on Indonesian politics and Islam.

He was commenting on a new report from the International Crisis Group warning that little is being done to study and deal with the conditions that give rise to new recruits and terror plots.

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The report focuses on how jihadis regroup on the run after successful police operations. It suggests that countering incendiary speech by Muslim clerics will be vital to any lasting response to radicalisation.

Dr Fealy said it was important for police to show “more willingness to act against militant preachers who play an important role in spreading and validating the most extremist iterations of jihadist doctrine.

“There are preachers who regularly say in public meetings that it is halal (permissible under Islamic law) to shoot dead the president or kill officials in the Indonesian government — and nothing happens to them.”

As well, Indonesian police could do well to increase their analytical firepower.

“(They) should have analysts expert in Arabic-language sites and jihadist thinking, so that they can detect new trends and how these are being taken up by Indonesian groups.”

The ICG report also suggests that police try to make more use of non-lethal options when confronting armed jihadis.

It notes the role of revenge as a motivator for jihadis after clashes with police; the marriage of jihadi widows as a way in which extremist networks are rebuilt; and the vulnerability to recruitment of younger brothers and children of extremists shot by police.

“Police need to take more steps to ensure that they do not unwittingly contribute to extremist motivation through excessive use of force,” the report says.

“The high rate of killings is almost certainly due to police awareness that they are the number one target and a sense of ‘kill or be killed’.

“But it is not clear that a systematic `lessons-learned’ exercise takes place after operations against extremists to seriously examine what could have been done better or differently.

“It might help to change the incentive structure, so that rewards are higher for capturing suspects alive rather than killing them in operations.”