Indonesia makes arrests as Daesh claims Jakarta attacks

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla visit a bomb blast victim at the police hospital in Jakarta. (Reuters)
Updated 26 May 2017
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Indonesia makes arrests as Daesh claims Jakarta attacks

JAKARTA: Indonesian police arrested three people on Friday suspected of being linked to suicide bombings in Jakarta, as the Daesh claimed responsibility for the attacks that killed three police officers at a bus station and wounded 12 others.
The attack was the deadliest in Indonesia since January 2016, when eight people were killed, four of them attackers, after bombers and gunmen attacked the capital Jakarta.
After visiting the site of Wednesday’s attacks, President Joko Widodo said Indonesia needed to accelerate plans to strengthen anti-terrorism laws to prevent new attacks.
“If we make a comparison with other countries, they already have regulations to allow authorities to prevent (attacks) before they happen,” Widodo told a news conference.
The president said he had ordered the chief security minister to get the revisions done as soon as possible.
Long-standing plans to reform Indonesia’s 2003 anti-terrorism laws have been held up by opposition from some parties in parliament and concerns about individual rights.
The revisions would broaden the definition of terrorism and give police the power to detain suspects without trial for longer. The changes would allow police to arrest people for hate speech or for spreading radical content, as well as those taking part in para-military training or joining proscribed groups. Muhammad Syafi’i of the opposition Gerindra party, who chairs a committee deliberating the bill, said discussions should be completed this year but there were still outstanding issues such as ensuring checks and balances on the counter-terrorism agency. “This bill needs to be discussed in a cautious and comprehensive way because the purpose of all regulations in this country is to ensure they do not result in the slaughter of Indonesian people, ... but protect them,” Syafi’i told Reuters.
The Daesh group claimed responsibility for this week’s attacks. “The executor of the attack on the Indonesian police gathering in Jakarta was an Islamic State fighter,” the group’s news agency Amaq said.
Indonesia has suffered a series of mostly low-level attacks by Islamic State sympathizers in the past 17 months, but there are concerns that the sophistication is improving.
Police said Wednesday’s attack had targeted officers, using pressure cookers packed with explosives.
“The explosions were described by police on 24 May as ‘pretty big’, and the number of wounded and dead would suggest a still-crude but developing bomb-making capability for militants in Indonesia,” said Otso Iho, an analyst at Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center (JTIC).
Police have identified the suspected suicide bombers as two 30-year-old men from the West Java city of Bandung.
Indonesian police made three arrests on Friday in Bandung related to the attacks and said they had seized Islamic teachings, phones and other items during the raids, Yusri Yunus, head of public relations at West Java Police, said.


Media urged to deny Christchurch shooting accused the publicity he seeks

Updated 59 min 25 sec ago
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Media urged to deny Christchurch shooting accused the publicity he seeks

  • “We’re just going to be very careful we don’t become a platform for any kind of extremist agenda,” say Radio New Zealand chief
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier urged the public not to speak the gunman's name to deny the infamy he wants

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: The media has been urged to stop naming the man charged with the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch last week that left 50 people dead.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday that she would never speak his name. In a speech to parliament, she urged the public to follow suit and deny the gunman the infamy he wants.
“I implore you, speak the names of those who were lost, rather than the name of the man who took them,” she added. “He may have sought notoriety but we in New Zealand will give him nothing, not even his name.”
Arden said the media can “play a strong role” in limiting coverage of extreme views such as his.
“Of course, people will want to know what is happening with the trial,” she said. “But I would hope there are ways that it could be covered without adding to the notoriety that this individual seeks.
“But the one thing I can assure you – you won’t hear me speak his name.”
The man accused of the mass shootings has so far been charged with one count of murder, but New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush has said further charges will be brought against him. The man said in a manifesto posted online shortly before the attacks that he intended to survive so that he could continue to spread his ideals, and that he intends to plead not guilty. He has said he plans to represent himself in court, although a judge can order a lawyer to assist him.
There have been calls for the media to refuse to report anything he says during the trial. Paul Thompson, the chief executive of Radio New Zealand, said his station will exercise caution and asked editors at all media outlets to take part in a discussion about covering the case.
“We’re just going to be very careful we don’t become a platform for any kind of extremist agenda,” he said, explaining that the station does not want to inflame the situation or become a party to the accused killer’s agenda.
Thompson described the case as “uncharted territory” but said he remains confident that his reporters will do their jobs professionally.
Dr Philip Cass, a senior lecturer in journalism at Auckland’s Unitec Institute of Technology, said the media will have to make “a very fine judgment” about what is reported if the accused killer uses the court as “a forum for the expression of his opinion.” He was wary, however, of calls to completely avoid reporting what is said in court.
“If you do that then we are moving into an area of censorship,” he said, adding that it is the media’s responsibility to provide a record of what is said and done.
Dr Catherine Strong, a journalism lecturer at Massey University, said she is confident that the media in New Zealand media will act responsibly. There is no legal or ethical imperative for journalists to report everything the accused says in court, she pointed out. The country’s media has already shown maturity by not using the name of the accused in headlines and by focusing on covering the shootings from the perspective of the victims, Strong added.

Hal Crawford, the chief news officer at MediaWorks, which owns TV3 and RadioLive in New Zealand, said, "Newshub is open to an industry-wide set of guidelines for reporting on Tarrant's trial, and we are in discussions with other newsrooms. Our aims are to minimise publicity of damaging ideology while reporting the workings of justice objectively." 

The man, who has not yet entered a plea, is due to appear in court again on April 5.