Terror Tactics - Shootings of Indonesian Police and the Definition of Terror

Adam James Fenton, Hery Firmansyah, David Price

    Research output: Working paper


    Strategies of Indonesian jihadist groups have undergone significant change over the last five years. There has been a shift away from high-cost, highly planned and lethal bomb attacks on symbolic foreign targets such as embassies, hotels and tourist destinations, in favour of domestic targets, notably assassinations of police officers. In the past five years over twenty Indonesian police officers have been killed in attacks believed to be linked to jihadist groups. While these killings caused public outrage and debate over the ability of police to ensure the safety of the community, they elicited very little sympathy from a community that is suspicious and hardened towards police abuses of power. This paper explores issues relating to this shift, as well as whether the assassinations ought to be regarded as “terrorist” in nature. It appears that these attacks have not caused widespread terror, and were not necessarily intended to do so. The paper questions whether an attack on police which has links to jihadist groups, but does not cause terror in the community, can or should be categorised as an act of terrorism. This, in turns, raises the question of whether those responsible ought to be prosecuted for terrorism or for other crimes such as murder under Indonesia’s Criminal Code. The answers are of relevance as evidentiary and procedur al rules under the anti-terrorism legislation (ATL) are significantly different to those under the Criminal Code. The paper discusses the various interpretations of terrorism in the context of the failure of the international community to arrive at a universal consensus
    definition – due mainly to biased, political usage of the term. It examines the relevant provisions of Indonesia’s anti-terrorism legislation and international law and suggests that, arguably, where an attack fails to cause terror as a matter of fact, logically and legally, it ought not be regarded as terrorism. However, seen in the wider context of a sustained campaign to overturn the Indonesian government and establish an Islamic state, violent actions with connections to Indonesian and international terrorist cells ought to be regarded, and charged, as terrorist crimes. Ultimately the question needs to be considered and settled by a higher Indonesian court, such as the Supreme Court (Mahkamah Agung) or the Constitutional Court (Mahkamah Konstitusi).
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationBandung, Indonesia
    PublisherSunan Gunung Djati Islamic State University
    Number of pages21
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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