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Control of Bomb Experts

Monday, 18 October 2010

Almost all units in the military have personnel that are explosives experts.  However, they are few in number.  A soldier in an elite unit of the Indonesian Army confirmed that in his unit only around one percent of all personnel in that unit are explosive experts.  ”So not all soldiers have the expertise.  They are chosen, not because they want to be, but because they are picked out by a higher ranking officer,” he explained.  Even then they still have to pass a test to become explosives experts and explosive defusing specialists.


It would appear that only members of the Special Force (Kopassus) have the basic ability to construct and detonate bombs.  This ability was also possessed by the soldier accused of detonating the bomb at the Jakarta Stock Exchange, Second Sergeant Irwan, a member of the Special Force anti-terrorist squad Group V/A, garrisoned in Cijantung, East Jakarta. Although Irwan is only a driver of military vehicles at the Company barracks were his unit is garrisoned, Irwan holds a very important position in military operations that requires special expertise.  Even General Commander of the Special Force, Major General Amirul Husaini admits that all members of the Special Force are required to have the basic ability to construct and detonate bombs.


One school that specialises in teaching the use and defusing of explosives to the military and the police is Zeni School in Bogor, West Java.  The explosives experts at this unit supervise each other and are tightly bound by doctrine as the defenders of nation and state.  Therefore, it is highly unlikely that there would be any traitors in their midst.


So, among civilians, the military and the police, only certain people have the ability to become explosive experts.  Their data are neatly recorded at the institution under which they work, including the name of the school at which they were educated.  They are generally highly disciplined individuals, because they have to deal with materials that need special handling with a high degree of accuracy.  But, of course, they can only do their work if explosives are available.


In the military and the police, the use of explosives is tightly controlled.  Never mind explosives like TNT, a single bullet removed from the ammunition store is properly recorded.  At least four authorised officers or personnel are required to sign all letters for the withdrawal or use of these explosives.


It is relatively easy to identify who owns explosives, especially commercial explosives, since the purchase and distribution of explosives in Indonesia are very tightly controlled.  Unlike in Australia, for example, where just by making a phone call an explosives vendor can approve a purchase order and send the goods to the purchaser’s warehouse.


Important Points:


It is necessary to note a number of points regarding the series of explosions described above and the measures taken in response, including:


First, the closed investigation of these explosions constitutes a systemic resistance—reinforced by the use of political threats—on the part political powers who feel their interests are being meddled in, and some of whom are very likely a part of the existing bureaucratic structure and state apparatus.  This even more likely to be the case if we look at the number of explosions that have occurred since the change in national politics brought down Soeharto in May 1998 (see above).


Second, while this series of unexplained explosions was going on and the victims were still suffering, the political elite, the bureaucracy, and the state apparatus leisurely continued their with their political debate and squabbling over power.  This inclination was of course part and parcel of the political interests behind hostilities.


Third, judging from the explanations for these explosions, it can be substantiated that these atrocities in the form of terrorist action and bomb explosions were perpetrated by a professionally organised group, which at a given time (after the explosion) were able to make rapid decisions appropriate to the situation in the field, for example by immediately arresting the perpetrator.  This made it difficult to break down the chain of responsibility between the field operators, those giving the orders, the mastermind behind the explosions, and the financiers, particularly since these actors were “unknown to one another” as is the case in any intelligence operation.  Furthermore, in intelligence operations, apart from the controller of operations, certain other operators are authorized to recruit key operations agents, back up agents, and agents or other parties to be used as primary or back up scapegoats.  It is at this latter level that there is stigmatisation of certain groups.


Fourth, analysis of data from investigations that have so far been conducted into these explosions, it is clear that these bomb terror campaigns and bomb explosions are not ordinary crimes, but are politically motivated.  The aim is to play one group off against the other, to create political instability, and to construct public distrust in the government because their political interests have been frustrated.


Fifth, specifically, the political shortcomings in the explanation of the bombings that occurred on Christmas Eve, December 24 2000, including:


1.         Government plans to set up a Panel Commission and Joint Fact-Finding Team involving members of the public were thwarted.  To this day, there are no indications whatsoever of any commitment on the part of the state institution to following up on this announcement by setting up a Panel Commission or Joint Fact Finding Team, even though preliminary action was taken in the form of several meetings at the office of the Coordinating Minster for Political, Social and Security Affairs, in follow up to a prior meeting with the President.


2.  The bureaucratic structure of the Indonesian Police as the law enforcement agency responsible for investigating all crimes, proved sluggish and lacked political power when faced with the indications of armed forces involvement in these bombings.  Further investigation into the mastermind behind these incidents seems to present a large stumbling block for the police, or it could also be because of the involvement—direct or otherwise—of the police apparatus itself.


The possibility of making a full investigation is made even harder as long as the military bureaucracy fails to open the way for further investigation into the possibility of there having been deviation from procedure in the use of explosives within the armed forces, bearing in mind the abundance of facts that point to the involvement of this institution, from the type of explosive used to the number of field operators.  As the only institution with the ability to use explosives, the Indonesian National Forces should be more open in its response to efforts to investigate these bombings.


The passive attitude of the armed forces institution is completely unjustifiable in the face of the evidence of armed forces involvement.  Therefore, the institutions that need to be investigated are the Armed Forces (Army) Directorate of Equipment, the Armed Forces Logistics Division, the Armed Forces (Army) Central Ammunition Warehouse II in Saradan, Madiun, East Java, and the military arms manufacturer PT PINDAD in Bandung, as well a factory that is owned by PT Pindad and produces explosives, located in Turen, Malang, East Java.


3.  The absence of a positive response from the House of Representatives to urge the full investigation of the bombings that took place on Christmas Eve.  There was no commitment whatsoever from the House of Representatives, when with regard to the Christmas Eve incidents, the House of Representatives was asked to audit the manufacturers of explosives that control or have access to the production, distribution and use of explosives, i.e. PT PINDAD, PT DAHANA, PT ERMINDO PRIMA, PT MULTI NITRO KIMIA, and PT TRIDAYA ESTA.  A proposal to establish a Special Committee was also rejected.  So, it can be concluded that the political reaction of the members of the House of Representatives and People’s Legislative Assembly during the ‘Special Session forum” on July 23 2001, demonstrates a kind of counterproductive irony in the fact that prior to this the House of Representatives wanted nothing to do with this investigation.  In fact this sympathy campaign and fund raising seemed to constitute make up politics for what they did at that time.


Conclusions and Recommendations


The Police and the Armed Forces Must be Accountable


Kontras observation of these bombing cases—and also of several previous bombings—suggests that is it is very difficult to separate these incidents from the relations and internal strife in national politics.  Therefore, we find it necessary to make the following points:


1.  It is indisputable that the facts indicate a significant connection and relationship between the number of explosions occurring and the fact that only military personnel and relevant military institutions could possibly have access to these explosives, bearing in mind that in almost all incidents, the explosives were known to have originated from a company owned by Army (PINDAD).


2.  Given this connection and judging from the fact that the each of these incidents occurred at significant moments in national politics, it is clear that all these bombings were carried out in the interests of particular political goals; creating a web of fear among the public, destroying the opportunity for building a peaceful democratic society by creating the instability necessary to give a negative impression of the democratic process and leadership, and to make the people once again dependent on an authoritarian power.


3.  The fact that these bombing incidents are increasingly closely linked to the reinstatement of an authoritarian power, is also evident from the strength of conservative politicians in parliament who on the one hand rejected the establishment of a Special Committee to fully investigate these bombings, while on the other hand mobilised a kind of political fundraising among the members of the House of Representatives.  This kind of politicking not only reflects the lack of morals and concern on the part of these members of parliament, but also indicates that the House of Representatives has positioned itself as an institution subordinate to military conservatism.  This is largely due to their lack of courage to openly declare the involvement and the sources of these explosives.


In light of the above, we recommend that:


1.  Firm action be taken immediately—including audits—of the companies involved in the misuse of their licences for the manufacture of explosives.  Not only are all these companies clearly recorded with the Police, and they (the police and the companies) have an ongoing relationship, from applying for a licence, through guarding and distribution of these explosives.  If the police apparatus proves unable to control the distribution of explosives to the point where widespread terrorist action occurs, this would of course raise the question of whether the police apparatus is operating optimally and in accordance with procedure, or whether in fact there are so many personnel involved that investigation is difficult, or even almost impossible.


2. There is a need to investigate the involvement and misuse of explosives by elements within the Armed Forces and Police who are involved in the process of issuing production licences, supervision and use of explosives.


3. Demand that the House of Representatives/People’s Legislative Assembly justify the political rhetoric during the “Special Session forum” with regard to these bombings.  They must indicate their commitment to investigating these mysterious bombings.  As long as they prove unable to do so, this would indicate that the House of Representatives/People’s Legislative Assembly are taking advantage of these bombings.


Jakarta, July 24 2001

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