Terror Threat Among Us

While the country’s terror-threat focus has largely been on areas of Central Java where militants are churned out from hardline Islamic boarding schools, elsewhere in the country, to the east of Bali, similar ills have been growing.

The death on Monday of a suspected terrorist at an Islamic school in Bima on the arid island of Sumbawa, when a homemade bomb detonated, and the ensuing three-day armed standoff between police and students, is a stark reminder of the horror of militancy that exists all around us.

It is inexplicable that teachers and students prevented police from entering the school for three days, to investigate what happened on Monday. Quite how they deemed themselves above the law is unknown. At the very least, they should be arrested for obstructing justice.

But there are suspicions that the institution was a bomb-making factory, a notion reinforced by the deadly blast on Monday.

Death and destruction, based on anything but in this case religion, have no place in the classroom. What were these students being indoctrinated in?

It is obvious that the school had something to hide; hence the teachers’ and students’ blocking of police. When police officers finally managed to gain entry on Wednesday it was not surprising that they discovered bombs. None of those preventing their entry were apprehended, however: they had all fled, even though the premises had been surrounded by 200 police and troops, which in itself is disturbing. Eight people have been arrested over the incident, however.

The radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, jailed over the first Bali bombings and then released but imprisoned again, in June, for funding terrorist activities, had links to this remote school, police said.

There is no doubt of the ongoing Islamic militancy in this country; and there is no questioning the fact that some institutions that are supposed to provide academic learning are in fact teaching malleable youngsters how to make bombs and in some cases strap them to their bodies and blow themselves up in attacks against Western targets.

The government must act to stop this rot now. Any place suspected of radical behaviour must be investigated and shut down and its leaders investigated. The laws to deal with this treat have been in place since the Bali bombings of 2002. Failure to act now will see the brainwashing assembly line continue.

Indonesia, including Bali, has suffered enough.

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