Indonesia’s counterterrorism squad arrests four suspects in different raids

Police stand guard as a car that was used to attack the police headquarters is examined in Pekanbaru, Indonesia. (AFP)
Updated 16 May 2018
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Indonesia’s counterterrorism squad arrests four suspects in different raids

  • Terrorists who stormed the police headquarters in Pekanbaru with machetes had pledged allegiance to Daesh
  • The raid took place after police in Riau province shot dead four militants who stormed the police headquarters in the provincial capital, Pekanbaru, and attacked the police with machetes

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s special counterterrorism squad, Detachment 88, has taken into custody four people after they raided three houses early Wednesday morning in Tangerang on the southwestern outskirts of Jakarta. 

National police spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said in a televised press conference that the police arrested three men and detained a woman from the raid. However, he declined to comment further about the raid, saying the police were still investigating the case. 

The raid took place after police in Riau province shot dead four militants who stormed the police headquarters in the provincial capital, Pekanbaru, and attacked the police with machetes. 

Riau police spokesman Sunarto said the terrorists rammed their car into the police station where four of them were shot dead as they attacked the police while the driver tried to flee the scene. He killed a police officer and injured two journalists in the attempt but was later captured. 

Wasisto said the group, along with two other militants from South Sumatra, came to the police detention center in Depok, West Java, allegedly to launch an attack following a riot that erupted inside the facility, and were on a standoff after 155 militants held in the facility killed five police officers and took another one hostage. 

The standoff started late Tuesday last week and ended early on Thursday morning with all 155 militants surrendering unconditionally. 

“They came to Depok but returned after seeing the situation was back to normal there,” Wasisto said, adding that the two from South Sumatra were arrested in Palembang, the provincial capital, on Tuesday. 

“The other four were the ones who were shot dead this morning,” he said, adding that the men were believed to have pledged allegiance to Daesh. 

The attack was the latest in a string of militant attacks that have hit Indonesia since Sunday, beginning when a family of six suicide bombers, including young children, attacked three churches simultaneously in Indonesia’s second biggest city, Surabaya. 

Later in the evening, a bomb went off prematurely in a family apartment in Sidoarjo, near Surabaya. The police said the family of six had been planning to launch an attack in a place in Surabaya. Three siblings lost their parents and an older sibling in the blast. 

On Monday, a family of five blew themselves up at a checkpoint in Surabaya police station. One eight-year-old child survived the blast. The attack killed at least 13 people and injured at least 40. 

The National Commission on Violence against Women said although the women had voluntarily launched the attacks, their willingness to be actively involved in the mission was deeply rooted in unbalanced gender relations and women’s low bargaining position in the militant group’s highly masculine culture, which indoctrinates women to obey their men without question. 

“We are concerned that the militant groups are taking advantage of women’s strategic role as mothers that can instill their radical ideology to their children to become martyrs,” Thaufiek Zulbahari, one of the commissioners, told Arab News. 

“We condemned the use of women and children in all kinds of violent extremism,” he added.


Thailand immigrant crackdown eyes ‘dark-skinned people’

This photo taken on October 18, 2018 shows Thai immigration bureau chief and police Major General Surachate Hakparn speaking to foreigners held for investigation in Bangkok's Patpong district during a police operation called "X-Ray Outlaw Foreigner". (AFP)
Updated 41 min 18 sec ago
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Thailand immigrant crackdown eyes ‘dark-skinned people’

  • Thailand’s reputation as a place to disappear and reinvent yourself combined with lax visa rules can be a headache for law enforcement
  • Thailand is not a party to the UN convention recognizing refugees and made headlines in 2015 for deporting more than 100 Uighurs back to China

BANGKOK: Allegedly aimed at busting visa abusers and illegal migrants, a Thai police operation called “X-Ray Outlaw Foreigner” has raised questions about racial profiling and fears for asylum-seekers caught in its web.
Tens of millions of tourists come to Thailand each year for the cheap living and postcard-perfect beaches, with some seeking out the seedier thrills of a bustling sex industry.
But as weak law enforcement, porous borders and corruption help make the country a hub for transnational crime, Thai authorities are intensifying Operation X-Ray — a program that started about a year ago — with more than 1,000 people arrested in recent weeks, most for overstaying their visa.
Although the vast majority caught in the dragnet are migrants from nearby countries, the racial overtones of the campaign have sparked concerns about profiling based on skin color.
“Our job is to classify who are the good dark-skinned people and who are the ones likely to commit crimes,” said immigration bureau chief Surachate Hakparn.
He told AFP that the operation was aimed at weeding out visa overstayers and nabbing criminals — especially “romance scammers” who lure lonely locals online to defraud them of cash.
He insisted that the romance scammers are often Nigerian or Ugandan.

At the start of one night time operation witnessed by AFP in Bangkok’s rowdy Nana district earlier this month, about 75 Thai police officers stood in rows at a briefing.
“The suspicious targets are the dark-skinned people,” shouted an officer. “First, we search their bodies, then we search their passports.”
Soon they began stopping suspects, including three people from Mali who were tested for drugs on the spot.
By 11:55 pm, almost 30 individuals — about half of whom were black — had been rounded up.
Only one was Caucasian, a Frenchman caught smoking marijuana.
Surachate’s staff said details on the breakdown of nationalities was “confidential.”
But in the first two weeks of October, police arrested a Korean citizen wanted by Interpol for sexual assault, and busted a team of four Nigerians and 16 Thais allegedly involved in romance scams, according to authorities.
They also found a Laos national who had overstayed his visa by more than 11 years.

Thailand’s reputation as a place to disappear and reinvent yourself combined with lax visa rules can be a headache for law enforcement.
The junta that seized power in 2014 justified its power grab by promising stability amid street protests and political upheaval.
But rights groups warn that refugees and asylum seekers who transit through Bangkok en route to a third country for resettlement are also being ensnared in the latest police operation as they lack legal protections.
According to rough estimates from the non-profit Fortify Rights, there are about 100 adults and 30 children who fit this description, mainly from Pakistan but also from Syria and Somalia.
“Thailand’s immigration crackdown has swept up refugees and asylum seekers, sent young children into horrid, prison-like conditions, and appears to have clear aspects of racial profiling against South Asians and Africans,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
Thailand is not a party to the UN convention recognizing refugees and made headlines in 2015 for deporting more than 100 Uighurs back to China.
More than 70 Pakistani Christians were rounded up and detained this month by police under charges of illegal entry and overstay even though they were assumed to be in transit and escaping religious persecution in their Muslim-majority homeland.
But the authorities remain unapologetic.
According to immigration chief Surachate’s count, Thailand is home to more than 6,000 people who ought to have left the country already.
“In order to clean house, we need to bring in the good people and deport the bad people so that the country will have sustained stability,” he said.