Jakarta public 'can help' war on terror

Iman Mahditama in Jakarta/The Jakarta Post
Asia News Network

Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - The Jakarta Police held a meeting with representatives of municipalities and regencies in Greater Jakarta yesterday in an effort to tackle possible terror threats and placed emphasis on how communities were an important part of preventing future attacks.

At the meeting, which came fresh on the heels of a series of terror-linked incidents in the capital over the last seven days, Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Untung S. Rajab urged community leaders to be more proactive in compiling profiles of residents in their neighbourhoods.

"Everyone, not just police officers, must feel a responsibility to keep the city safe and secure. Neighbourhood units [RT] and community units [RW] chiefs must be more sensitive to all goings-on in their neighbourhoods," he said at the meeting, which was held at Jakarta Police headquarters.

According to Rajab, community leaders must increase their vigilance so that they can spot suspicious behavior in their areas immediately.

"If they see a house continually empty, they have to ask why. If they see someone who often receives guests late at night, they have to ask why. They have to ask questions and get answers. It is their right and responsibility."

The statements came mere days after the police arrested several suspected militants across Greater Jakarta. The suspects are believed to be connected to the terror-linked shootings in Surakarta, Central Java, that killed one policeman last month.

Police have also confiscated bomb-making materials in Tambora, West Jakarta, and in Beji, Depok, where a bomb exploded prematurely on Saturday night, injuring at least three people.

On Monday morning, police raided a house in Bojonggede, Bogor, after a tenant Arif, 26, was linked to the Depok bomb blast. In the house police seized pipes that had been cut into pieces and filled with explosives, along with notes on how to make bombs.

In light of these terror-linked incidents, Jakarta Police deputy chief Brig. Gen. Suhardi Alius urged Jakartans to develop a "crisis sense".

"The bombers in Depok had moved into the so-called Pondok Bidara orphanage [where the blast occurred] for a whole month. Why didn't anyone ask where the orphans were, or why there were no orphanage activities taking place in the building?" he said.

Bekasi Mayor Rahmat Effendi said an ever-increasing egoism and individualism among urbanites may have made them less alert to their surroundings.

"However, as egoistic and individualistic as we can be, we still live with one another in this big city and that involves a moral obligation to get to know one another and keep each other safe at the very least," he said.

South Tangerang Mayor Airin Rachmi Diany said that the requirement of newcomers to report to community leaders within a day of their arrival should be reinforced in light of the recent incidents.

"It must be more than just placing warning stickers on neighbourhood entrance gates. I believe that reporting to community leaders will do much to prevent possible terror threats," she said.

Alius went one step further by suggesting punishments for newcomers who failed to report their arrival within a day.

"Perhaps [the newcomers] can be reported to the police, because people will usually be frightened by that," he said.

Meanwhile, security measures across Greater Jakarta have been increased in the days after the incidents in Tambora and Depok.

Depok Police chief Sr. Comr. Mulyadi Kaharni said that more officers were deployed during night patrols and that security in border areas had been strengthened. They also conducted random identification document inspections in the street, Kaharni said.

Such raids were also conducted in Tangerang, west of Jakarta, Tangerang Police said. The raids were reportedly conducted on numerous major thoroughfares throughout the city.

"The raids were conducted in anticipation of various crimes, including terrorism," Tangerang Police chief Sr. Comr. Wahyu Widada said, as quoted by tempo.co.

Buildings in Jakarta are also visibly increasing security measures by employing more security guards on their entrance gates.

Indonesian Shopping Centre Association chief Stefanus Ridwan told The Jakarta Post recently that the association had warned all security guards in malls across the city to increase their vigilance.