Saturday, Oct 19, 2002
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By P. S. Suryanarayana
The ordinance or "regulation'' was expected to be promulgated by midnight on Friday.
Stringent measures of counter-terrorism, consistent with Indonesia's ongoing process of democratic evolution, were considered likely to form the centrepiece of the presidential fiat.
Even as the decks were cleared for this proclamation, in the specific context of the international outcry over last weekend's terrorist offensive in Bali, the Indonesian Government and the House of Representatives agreed, earlier in the day, that a decree was indeed required to meet the current emergency-like situation in the country.
Under Indonesia's evolving democratic process, consultations between the President and Parliament were considered necessary, more so because the House of Representatives was yet to debate an anti-terror bill which was first proposed before the Bali blast. The Foreign Ministry today indicated that the decree would be consistent with democratic principles. As Indonesia continued to struggle for yet another day to come to terms with the enormity of the Bali tragedy, the President, Megawati Sukarnoputri, said, "the incident could have been prevented''.
The Political and Security Affairs Minister, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said there was no conclusive indication so far that the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a suspected pan-regional radical outfit, was behind the Bali carnage.
The leader of the JI, Abu Bakar Baasyir (Bashir), was asked to appear before the security agencies in Jakarta tomorrow for questioning.
However, it looked by nightfall that he might not be able to travel to Jakarta from his home on account of a sudden illness for which he was hospitalised.
The summons to Mr. Abu Bakar was related to questions about some earlier terrorist strikes and not the Bali massacre.
All the same, international diplomats in the region remained concerned about his activities. For his part, though, Mr. Abu Bakar has consistently denied any terrorist agenda.
Singapore today pointed out that Mr. Abu Bakar's name first surfaced during the investigations it carried out in the context of some pre-emptive detentions last December.
He was referred to by those detained as "amir'' and he began his operations in Malaysia before turning his attention to Singapore as well, it was further gleaned.
On a different but related plane, the Indonesian police said that Omar al-Faruq had, during investigations, admitted to being a part of the Al-Qaeda network.
He was detained by the Indonesian authorities in June this year before being deported to the U.S. for counter-terror investigations.
It was Al-Faruq who, while in detention, alerted the international community to the existence of Jemaah Islamiyah, according to available indications. Unrelated to the Al-Faruq episode was the decision by Laskar Jihad, a homespun Indonesian outfit with a suspected terrorist agenda, to disband itself in the present circumstances.
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