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Azahari, hard work and stupidity JAKARTA - If there was ever an occasion when the words "terrorism" and "good news" can ever be used in the same sentence, then Wednesday's police raid that led to the death of bombmaker Dr. Azahari was certainly one of them. It had been a long time coming. The work of the notorious Demolition Man is believed to have been behind four of the worst terrorist attacks in Indonesia -- the Bali bombings of 2002, the JW Marriott Hotel bombing in 2003, the Kuningan bombing in Jakarta in 2004, and last month's bombings in Kuta and Jimbaran.

In many respects, this Malaysian bombmaker was atypical in every sense of the word. He was a well-educated and worldly man who gained a degree from a British university. Our National Police should be given kudos for their latest success. After years of evasion, it was no small feat to capture this man. Azahari's demise certainly handicaps the terrorist network that has embedded itself into the country. The police ring has increasingly tightened around Azahari's group. Their resources and network have slowly been restricted making it increasingly difficult to launch attacks the scale of the first Bali bombing in 2002.

We should also be proud that the discovery of Azahari's hideout was not brought about by the employment of coercive political measures -- which some advocate Indonesia should adopt -- but rather good, investigative police work and intelligence. But it is too simple to say that Azahari's death marks a turning point in Indonesia's fight against terrorism. If anything, Wednesday's siege of Azahari's hideout in East Java proves that he and his cohorts are a dedicated lot. Ready to die for their misguided brand of religion, just as we are to defend this nation against people like him.

After years of living underground, it is certain that Azahari would have passed down his knowledge and converted more than a mere few to his treacherous path. Smaller-scale attacks earlier this year have shown the span of the terrorist network, with recruits from one end of the archipelago to the other being arrested for terror activities. Neither must we forget that Azahari's compatriot, Nordic M. Top, remains at large and has proven to be just as slippery to track down as the bombmaker.

Just because the tumor has been lifted, does not mean the cancer has not spread to other parts. Vigilance has been a key in this country's slow countermeasures towards the terrorist threat. A series of major bombings in 2000 -- in front of the Philippine ambassador's residence, Jakarta Stock Exchange and the Christmas Eve bombings -- jolted the nation's consciousness to the presence of terrorism here. However, it seems that is was not until the 2002 Bali bombings was there a unified political will that serious concerted action be taken.

It is this awareness that will carry this nation through its fight to ensure that all terrorists throughout the country are truly weeded out. Without being gloomy, we should not pat ourselves in the back just yet. It was this laissez faire attitude that got us into the terrorist hole in the first place. This kind reckless attitude was recently displayed by Poso Regent Piet Inkiriwang. When confronted by journalists in Jakarta about the recent resurgence of communal killings, he asked that the situation not be "over-exposed" since it would damage the regency's image.

With a warped logic akin to a child, he argued that there was no need to focus on events in Poso so much since similar murders and bombings also happened in other parts of the country. For a person so relieved of his senses, this regent may need to be relieved of his job also!

We feel sorry and are fearful for the people of Poso to be led by someone whose common sense can justify the muting of truly heinous crimes committed in the regency. Given his statement, it is no surprise that the issue of communal violence and terrorism in Poso remains a recurring threat. Let us pray that there are more responsible leaders among us than Pete Inkiriwang.

Whether in Jakarta, Bali or Poso, the threat remains the same. Just because one is in Papua, for example, where no specific terrorist attack has occurred, does make one immune to attacks caused by communal extremism. Even an Indonesian musician making a simple living in Jordan can become a victim of terrorism, as the case of Perry Pattiselanno, who was killed in the Amman bombing earlier this week.

The smell won't go away just because Regent Pete, or some other publicity seeking official, refuses to speak about the stink. Azahari is gone. But terrorism did not begin with him, nor will it end with his death.

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Posted in Terrorism @ 12 November 2005 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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