Indonesia says it's safe, despite terror warnings
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia is safe, officials insisted on Wednesday, January 7, in response to the warnings issued by the United States and Australia of a potential terrorist attack in the country.
In fact, they say they don't know why the threat warnings were issued.
The US embassy in Jakarta on January 3 warned its citizens of a potential threat in Surabaya, East Java. On Tuesday, January 6, Australia also advised its citizens to “exercise a high degree of caution” in Indonesia, including Bali.
"We continue to receive information that indicates that terrorists may be planning attacks in Indonesia, which could take place at any time,” the Australian travel advice said.
But the minister for politics, law, and security, Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, said Australia was just following the US’ footsteps in issuing the threat warning.
“They just adopted it from the US. The US said it, and [Australia] just followed,” he said.
Purdijatno added that the ministry has not received reports from the country’s National Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the police indicating a potential threat .
“But it doesn’t mean that we ignore it. It means that we have to become more cautious. I have asked the police, BIN, and the military to be more careful,” he said.
Intelligence Chief Marciano Norman on Wednesday further said he has contacted his Australian counterpart.
“Regarding the travel warning, we have checked it with Australia. But based on our observation, the situation in Surabaya is under control. Local police are exercising safety measures,” Norman said.
“People need not worry about it because we have taken preventive measures ourselves.”
Norman added that there were no strong indications to explain how or why Australia issued a warning, and that he was sure the warning would later be revoked.
Indonesia has waged a crackdown on extremist groups over the past decade following attacks against Western targets, including the 2002 Bali bombings – a campaign that has been credited with weakening key networks.
But in recent months authorities have raised concerns that a wave of potential jihadist sympathizers is emerging from the world's most populous Muslim nation.
In total, an estimated 514 indonesians have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside Islamic State militants.
Six people – including a couple and their 10-year-old child – were arrested at Jakarta airport in late December for attempting to travel to Syria to join the IS group.
A large number of Muslims around the world have gravitated towards the radical group, which this year declared a caliphate spanning territories it captured in Syria and Iraq. – with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com