07/31/2009, 00.00
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Some 40,000 troops are deployed, more power to intelligence service against terrorism

by Mathias Hariyadi
President Yudhoyono announces the deployment of more troops to back police in their fight against Islamic fundamentalists. Civil rights activists and NGO criticise the move, saying that Suharto used the same tools to control public life.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesia has raised the alarm level against Islamic terrorism. It is deploying some 40,000 soldiers across the country down to the village level to face the Islamist threat. Indonesia’s national intelligence agency (Badan Intelijen Negara or BIN) has been put on full alert for 24 hours.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made the announcement yesterday. He spoke from the presidential palace via teleconference to local government officials as well as police and military commanders across the country.

He called on them to fully cooperate and expressed his disappointment that “some local authority [. . .] are not aware of this important issue and prefer not to address this matter.”

The president said that full mobilisation of all services is necessary to fight the “country’s main enemy: terrorism.”

For the central government, the police cannot tackle fundamentalist groups on its own and guarantee security in the country.

All of the country’s highest authorities were present when the president made his address, including National Defence Forces Commander General Djoko Santoso, and National Police Chief General Bambang Hendarso Danuri.

According to some commentators the president is waving an iron fist in response to accusations that he is indecisive and uncertain about what to do against the terrorist threat, which reared its ugly head again in two attacks against Jakarta hotels in mid-July.

The decision to involve the BIN and revive village intelligence units (Babinsa) has been criticised by civil rights activists and NGOs which fear that they might be use to muzzle public opinion, recreating the type of system set up under the Suharto dictatorship.

In order to allay fears and dismiss the comparison between himself and Suharto, Yudhoyono was quick to state that the military deployment and the involvement of counterintelligence units, especially Babinsa units, “should not be seen as an attempt to gain advantages in favour my mandate.”

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