Baghdadi killing: Indonesia braced for terror backlash

U.S. special forces move towards the compound of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a raid in the Idlib region of Syria. (Reuters)
Updated 01 November 2019

Baghdadi killing: Indonesia braced for terror backlash

  • Authorities in Jakarta have stepped up security after Baghdadi’s killing

JAKARTA: Indonesia was on Thursday bracing itself for a terror backlash in the wake of the US military raid that resulted in the death of Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

Authorities in Jakarta have stepped up security and surveillance after analysts warned of retaliatory attacks by local militants, possibly targeting Westerners.

Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest during an assault by US forces on his hideout in northwestern Syria, American President Donald Trump announced on Oct. 27.

A string of Daesh-inspired strikes has been carried out in Indonesia over recent years and officials in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country fear possible retribution attacks following Baghdadi’s death.

“We’re preparing ourselves with heightened caution, covering the gaps that can possibly lead to such attacks,” Hamli, director of Indonesia’s National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), told Arab News. “We’re curbing their intentions, abilities and the chances for attack, and enhancing alertness,” Hamli said.

A local Daesh-linked network known as Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) has been blamed for most of the recent attacks in Indonesia, including deadly suicide bombings on churches in the country’s second-biggest city Surabaya.

Indonesia has tightened its anti-terrorism laws, enabling police to launch a sustained crackdown that has netted hundreds of Daesh-inspired militants nationwide.

HIGHLIGHT

Indonesia has tightened its anti-terrorism laws, enabling police to launch a sustained crackdown that has netted hundreds of Daesh-inspired militants nationwide.

A spokesman for the National Police, Asep Adi Saputra, said its elite counter-terrorism unit had been closely monitoring all networks of Daesh-linked groups to prevent retaliatory attacks.

Some self-radicalized militants from small cells might get a moral boost from Al-Baghdadi’s death to launch crude attacks, Jakarta-based terrorism expert Rakyan Adibrata said.

Online chatter among Indonesian Daesh supporters has been rife with rumors of a new leader to replace Baghdadi soon, added Adibrata, Indonesia’s director of the International Association of Counterterrorism and Security Professionals (IACSP).

“This holy war will never end, even if our own caliph is dead,” read a posting seen by Arab News in Indonesian pro-Daesh chatrooms on instant messaging platform Telegram. “This is one of the main things we all certainly want, martyrdom.”

Baghdadi, who had been reported dead several times in recent years, had led Daesh since 2010 before the group’s once-sprawling self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq collapsed earlier this year.

Trump’s televised announcement that sought to portray Baghdadi’s last moments as humiliating could possibly lead to a shift in the target of Indonesian militant attacks from local police back to Westerners, Adibrata said.

Indonesia has suffered major terrorist incidents including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people, mostly foreign tourists, and the Australian Embassy bombing of 2004 in Jakarta which left nine people dead including the bomber. In recent years local police have increasingly been targeted.


Taliban aim to sign deal with US by end of month

Updated 18 January 2020

Taliban aim to sign deal with US by end of month

  • Washington has for weeks been calling on the militants to reduce violence
  • The Taliban and the US had been negotiating the deal for a year

KABUL: The Taliban are aiming to reach a withdrawal agreement with the US by the end of January and are prepared to “scale down” military operations ahead of signing the deal, according to their chief spokesman.
The statement by Suhail Shaheen to Pakistani daily Dawn comes as the group and the US held discussions in Doha this week, after insurgent sources told AFP they had offered to initiate a brief cease-fire.
“We have agreed to scale down military operations in days leading up to the signing of the peace agreement with the United States,” Shaheen told Dawn in a report published Saturday.
He added that the Taliban were “optimistic” a deal with Washington could be signed before the end of the month and that the reduction in fighting across the country would also include the targeting of Afghan forces.
“It’s now a matter of days,” said the spokesman.
Washington has for weeks been calling on the militants to reduce violence, posing it as a condition for resuming formal negotiations on an agreement that would see US troops begin to leave the country in return for security guarantees, after a near two-decade fight.
The Taliban and the US had been negotiating the deal for a year and were on the brink of an announcement in September 2019 when President Donald Trump abruptly declared the process “dead,” citing Taliban violence.
Talks were later restarted between the two sides in December in Qatar, but were paused again following an attack near the Bagram military base in Afghanistan, which is run by the US.
Any agreement with the Taliban is expected to have two main pillars — an American withdrawal from Afghanistan, and a commitment by the insurgents not to offer sanctuary to militants — and would ultimately have to be given final approval by Trump.
The Taliban’s relationship with Al-Qaeda was the main reason cited for the US invasion more than 18 years ago.
A deal would hopefully pave the way for intra-Afghan talks.
Many observers agree that the war can no longer be won militarily, and that the only route to a lasting peace in Afghanistan is for an agreement between the Taliban and the US-backed government in Kabul.
The Taliban have until now refused to negotiate with the Afghan government, which they consider an illegitimate regime, raising fears that fighting will continue regardless of any deal ironed out with the Americans.

Related