France’s Macron pays homage to ‘victims of terrorism’

French President Emmanuel Macron stands at attention by the coffins of the four victims of the Oct. 3 attack at Paris police headquarters, during a ceremony in Paris, France on Oct. 8, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 09 October 2019

France’s Macron pays homage to ‘victims of terrorism’

  • Macron paid homage to the 4 police officials killed by their own colleague
  • French prosecutors are investigating the killings as a potential act of terrorism

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron led a national tribute Tuesday to the four police employees slain in last week's knife attack in Paris, calling them victims of terrorism.
At a ceremony at the police headquarters where they were stabbed to death in last Thursday's bloody rampage, a solemn Macron endured drizzle as he paid homage to the three police officers and one police administrator killed by their own colleague, a 45-year-old deaf technology administrator.
"They had made the choice to wear the uniform, to devote their lives to protecting others. They died in service, at work," said Macron, who was also met privately with families of the victims.
French prosecutors are investigating the killings as a potential act of terrorism as it transpired the knifeman likely had links with members of an ultra-conservative extremist movement.
"The whole nation (must) unite, mobilize, act... We will only win if our country gets up to fight against this underground (extremism) that corrupts the children of France," he added.
He proposed establishing a "society of vigilance" to protect France, a country still reeling from numerous extremist attacks in recent years — but he warned the French against "suspicion that corrodes."
Though Interior Minister Christophe Castaner initially said there were "no warning signs" ahead of the attack, he has since acknowledged breaches in security over a failure to detect signals of the attacker's radicalization. The man had previously "justified" the deadly 2015 extremist attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in front of his colleagues. No written report was made at the time.
It took some 24 hours after the attack for authorities to say it was a potential act of terrorism, and the French government initially maintained there was nothing to suggest the armed attacker had any ties to extremist groups.
Earlier Tuesday, Castaner posthumously bestowed France's highest award, the Legion of Honor, on the four victims. The fifth fatality, the knifeman himself, was shot dead by a rookie officer who had completed police academy training six days before the attack.
Authorities said the attacker had worked for the Paris police force as a technology administrator in the intelligence unit since 2003 and didn't have a history of psychiatric problems.
Tuesday's ceremony came as justice officials said French investigators found a USB stick belonging to the killer containing information about his colleagues.
Officials did not immediately confirm several French media reports that the memory stick contained extremist propaganda.


Indonesia targets ‘virus’ of religious radicalization

Indonesia’s Vice President Ma’ruf Amin says the government is on a quest to stop the spread of radicalism. (AN photo by Yudhi Sukma Wijaya)
Updated 25 February 2020

Indonesia targets ‘virus’ of religious radicalization

  • Vice President Ma’ruf Amin shares concern over former Indonesian Daesh members who want to return home
  • There are 600 former jail inmates under observation of national counterterrorism agency BNPT

JAKARTA: The Indonesian government has decided not to repatriate hundreds of citizens who joined Daesh in a bid to counter the rise of radicalization in its society.

President Joko Widodo said on Feb. 12 that the government was prioritizing the security of its 260 million population by reducing their exposure to terrorist attacks from those who had fought for Daesh.
Indonesia has experienced a number of attacks by people linked to militant groups that support Daesh. Recent attacks include a suicide bombing at a police headquarters in November and an attack on the then-chief security minister, Wiranto — a retired general who like many Indonesians uses one name — who was stabbed in the abdomen last October by a man affiliated to a Daesh-supporting network.
Chief Security Minister Mohammad Mahfud MD said that there were 689 people in camps in Syria — most of them women and children — who said they come from Indonesia, based on data provided by the CIA, the the Red Cross and other agencies.
The government will consider on a case-by-case basis whether to repatriate children aged 10 or younger, and based on whether they have parents or are orphaned.
Mahfud said that the government was concerned that if foreign terrorist fighters were repatriated they could become a dangerous new “virus” for the country.
Indonesians who had been repatriated from Syria have to take part in a government-sponsored deradicalization program for a month.
In addition, the national counterterrorism agency BNPT has rolled out deradicalization programs for terror convicts incarcerated in more than 100 correctional facilities. It continues to monitor at least 600 former jail inmates who have served their terms and are undertaking empowerment programs to prevent them from rejoining fellow militants.
Vice President Ma’ruf Amin has been tasked with the responsibility of coordinating efforts to take on radicalization. His credentials as a senior Muslim cleric are expected to carry weight in countering the spread of hardline Islamic teachings.

INNUMBERS

260m - Total population of Indonesia.

689 - Number of people in Syrian camps who say they are from Indonesia.

600 - Number of inmates under observation of national counterterrorism agency BNPT.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, septuagenarian Amin, who is chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council, although in an inactive capacity, acknowledged his background as a religious figure was the reason why President Widodo assigned him to the task.
“We want to instill a sense of religious moderation and develop a nationalist commitment,” he said.
He added that the government did not want former Daesh members who claimed to be Indonesians bringing “a plague” to the country, becoming “a new source of radicalism” if they were repatriated.
The government uses the term “radical terrorism” to avoid confusion with other types of radicalism.

Hundreds of Indonesians joined Daesh in Syria, to fight against President Bashar Assad. (Getty)

Amin said that prevention and law enforcement were required to combat terrorism. While Indonesia has gained international recognition for its counterterrorism efforts, there remains much to do to curb the spread of radical terrorism, he said.
“If radicalism turns into action, it could become terrorism, so we begin from their way of thinking and we realign their intolerant thoughts, which are the source of radicalism. We deradicalize those who have been exposed,” Amin said.
There are five provinces where the spread of radicalism and terrorism have been particularly being targeted: Aceh, Riau, Central Sulawesi, West Kalimantan and East Java.
Amin said that the government was on a quest to prevent the spread of religious radicalism in Indonesia.
“The cause of terrorism and radicalism could be triggered by religious teachings, the economic situation, injustice, therefore it takes a comprehensive approach from upstream to downstream,” Amin said.
A coordinated approach involves various government agencies and institutions, and begins with early childhood education through to college.
“We want to instill religious moderation, a sense of nationalism and patriotism and introduce Pancasila into early childhood education,” Amin said, referring to the country’s foundation principles.
According to the Global Threat Landscape report issued in January by Singapore’s International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), deradicalization programs targeting women and children are necessary given the growing number of women involved in terrorist activities. The programs need to be different to those provided for male militants.
The report found that family networks which include wives would continue to play a part in militant activities in Indonesia this year. Family units are likely to be involved in future attacks as some pro-Daesh families have indoctrinated their children with its ideology.
Previous attacks have seen women and children involved in attacks such as the suicide bombing in Surabaya targeting churches and a police headquarters in 2018.
Asked if the BNPT efforts have been enough to counter radicalization in Indonesia, Amin said that the program was on track, but in the future the government aimed to have a more focused target supported by cooperation with government agencies.
 “We expect the results would be much better than what has been achieved so far,” he said.