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Examining Indonesian Terror Tactics: Characterizing Attacks on Indonesian Police

Adam James Fenton, David Price


Strategies of Indonesian jihadist groups have undergone significant change over the last five years, away from high-cost, planned, and lethal bomb attacks on symbolic foreign targets such as embassies, hotels, and tourist destinations, in favor of domestic targets, notably assassinations of Indonesian police officers. In the past five years, over twenty police officers have been killed in attacks believed to be linked to jihadist groups. This paper explores issues relating to this shift, and whether the assassinations ought to be regarded as “terrorist” in nature This, in turn, raises the question of whether those responsible ought to be prosecuted for terrorism or for other crimes under Indonesia’s Criminal Code. The paper 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, in the wider context of striving to overturn the Indonesian government and establish an Islamic state, violent actions connected to Indonesian and international terrorist cells ought to be regarded as terrorist crimes. Ultimately, the question needs to be considered and settled by a higher Indonesian court, such as the Supreme Court or the Constitutional Court.

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