Plan to Give ‘Cell Phones’ to Jailed Terrorists
The Bali Times
ALLOWING convicted terrorists to have mobile phones in jail could help in the hunt for others still on the run, according to former Densus 88 counter-terrorism unit chief Surya Dharma.
He said not one major terrorist suspect had yet been arrested in Indonesia without tracking mobile phone conversations, and said he fully supported the controversial plan put forward by the government.
Allowing mobiles in jail cells would mean anti-terror police could track conversations and learn whether inmates were still in contact with terrorist networks outside prison walls, he said.
“Whenever we have learned that they are planning to launch terrorist attacks, we have been able to foil them by tracking their conversations.”
Surya’s statement followed Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar’s announcement last week that all jailed terrorists would soon be allowed to have mobiles. He stopped short, however, of elaborating on the details of the policy.
“I can’t talk about the reason because it is related to national security,” Patrialis said.
Densus 88’s current chief, police general Tito Karnavian, said the matter needed to be explored further. “We still need to discuss” whether this idea would benefit efforts to combat terrorist activities, he said.
Tito is still in Aceh leading the hunt for members of an armed paramilitary group linked to the regional terror organization Jemaah Islamiyah.
Convicted terrorists in the nation’s prisons have in the past been reported to be in contact with their counterparts on the outside and to have even plotted attacks from their cells. Imam Samudra, one of the 2002 Bali bombers, was found in possession of a smuggled laptop commuter at Kerobokan Prison in Denpasar in 2005.
Terrorist Iwan Dharmawan, also known as Rois Abu Syaukat, was reported this month to have had eight mobiles with him while an inmate at Jakarta’s Cipinang Prison, and to have been in communication with his networks in Aceh.
Separately, Ansyaad Mbai, head of the anti-terror desk at the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, said he was of the opinion that such a policy should not be implemented with all terrorist convicts or suspects in prisons and police detention centres.
“I believe it should depend on each individual. We should determine our purpose in giving convicts such privileges, and this must be related to [how well] we can manage it,” Ansyaad said. “It can be positive if we’re able to monitor conversations or it could have a negative effect,” allowing convicts to plan attacks and spread their extremist ideology.
Currently it is unclear when the policy will be implemented and what effect it may have on other prisoners. It is no secret that graft and drug convicts at a number of penitentiaries across the archipelago can buy luxuries that ordinary inmates cannot, including not just having mobiles or smart phones but access to the internet as well as televisions and laptops.
When asked whether police were worried about terrorists using mobiles not only to plan attacks but also to spread their propaganda, Surya said the police’s hands were tied even though some groups showed clear hostility toward the government, such as when the hard-line Indonesian Mujahedeen Council (MMI) and Jamaah Anshorut Tauhid preached about establishing an Islamic state.
“Our anti-terror laws need to be revised to take preventative measures against such groups. We have to stop them from growing,” he said.
Ali Fauzi, the younger brother of convicted Bali bomber Ali Imron, who is serving a life sentence in Jakarta, welcomed the idea.
“Thank God. It will be easier for me and the family to see how he is doing. It will also be easier to discuss issues occurring outside,” said Ali, who now lives at Solokuro in Lamongan, East Java.Filed under: Headlines