by Jake Tremblay, Research Intern to Senior Fellow Dr. Lew Stern
Over the past 7 years Densus 88, the Indonesian anti-terrorist task force formed in response to the Bali bombings in 2002, has made incredible strides in policing and has become a prime example of international counterterrorism cooperation. Densus 88, with U.S. training and equipment assistance, has essentially dismantled Jemaah Islamiyah, the terrorist organization responsible for the Bali nightclub bombings in 2002 and 2005, as well as that of Noordin Top’s splinter group which perpetrated the terrorist acts against the Marriot and Ritz-Carlton Jakarta in 2009. Additionally, a Densus 88 operation policed up Mohammed Jibril Abdurahman, the financier of the last year’s hotel bombings who, on 28 June, was sentenced to 5 years in jail. This is the most recent victory for both the U.S. Government and Indonesian police force in the fight against extremism. It follows hard on the heels of the arrest of the most wanted terrorist suspect Abdulla Sonata last week. Add to these recent successes the 2009 take down of hotel and nightclub bombing mastermind Noordin Top and you have a story of focused Indonesian resolve to cooperate with friends and allies in the global fight against terrorism. Pressure from Densus 88 stymied terrorist activities for 4 years before quickly eliminating the threat from a man who was #3 on the FBI’s Seeking Information War on Terrorist List. The Indonesian efforts show clearly that direct intelligence sharing and U.S. investment in capacity building programs can have an enormous impact.
In light of the successes achieved through the US-Indonesian strategic security partnership countering the nascent terrorism movement in Indonesia, are there additional countries where the US Government should offer similar assistance?