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What if I was a terrorist YOGYAKARTA - Just over one week ago it all happened. At walking distance one person was killed, some were arrested and after that the party was over as quick as it started. It wasn't a criminal shootout and n drugs were found as well. It was nothing more than busting some terrorism-suspects by an anti-terror squad from the Indonesian police (Densus 88); they were simply overwhelmed in their hide-out. The one that tried to flea, was directly given some bullets and didn't survive the event. Seven others were arrested. In fact that could be the entire story, but it was just not to happen that way. It proved to be the start of what currently looks like a terror cell uncovered. Within two weeks after the first shooting several more police actions were held. Police is scarce with giving information, but in recent days is became clear that most likely a part of the Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah has been found.

Visible changes in daily life are not really easy to be discovered, or are they? Almost daily Yogyakarta is in the national news. It is already called the 'terror-cell from Yogyakarta'. You can be proud on that if you want. Hundreds of kilograms of explosives, guns and bullets have been uncovered during the first police action in a house directly along the main ring road in Yogyakarta. As you can see being directly along the main road doesn't actually mean someone has to notice anything at all, however it may seem fairly clear at such places. That is not true as is proven here. These little villains also held armed exercises at the high slopes of the Gunung Sumbing volcano west of the town of Magelang, not too far from here as well. While the normal life continues, police does the same, because they are onto something big for sure.

Maybe just in time they prevented a new wave of terror from happening again, just by using some bullets. Or maybe they did actually trigger a new wave by killing one of the suspected terrorists. There is probably not a single person who can tell at this moment, even the police here doesn't seem to know as well, at least that is what shows up in the media. Maybe they have uncovered something far too big, something they cannot handle all of a sudden. It might just happen that some policemen which normally keep themselves busy asking money for made-up traffic offences than doing anti-terrorism until he finds himself on the ring road in the middle of the night.

Directly along the ring road around Yogyakarta is this very normal shop. At the end of last month however is became the starting point of many news items, until today.
Directly along the ring road around Yogyakarta is this very normal shop. At the end of last month however is became the starting point of many news items, until today.

When traveling between different provinces on the island of Java, especially the border between Central and East Java, police has set up checkpoints that are used to check for travelers identities. In some places and completely random cars and other means of transport are stopped for a more comprehensive check. I was able to travel ahead in my 'travel' (minivan in which a maximum of eight costumers which are brought from door to door - in this case from Yogyakarta to Malang - and a driver) without stopping at any of the invisible borders. Maybe I didn't fit in the profile of a terrorist? Or did the van originate from a city - the license plate started with 'N', which is Malang - where there were no terrorists? That's for sure not true, so it seemed to me as pure random activities. It was not possible to do anything else as well; to check many small and big roads at a purely administrative border is impossible to be honest.

Azahari Husin

In a town near the city of Malang, Batu to be precise, they know the phenomenon terrorist from up close and personal. For years, bomb-doctor Azahari Husin was able to make bombs there which were later used to be detonated in several different places throughout the Indonesian archipelago. At the end of 2005 however, police traced him down. Whether it was a bad move from the police or a smart action from Azahari himself doesn't really matter, at the day of the raid he died by blowing himself up with a self-produced bomb. Nothing to loose with almost unlimited access to virgins, or maybe there is some discrimination up there as well and didn't he get anything?

Late 2005, bomb doctor Azahari Husin blew himself up in just an average residential area in the town of Batu, in the mountains near Malang. Here the police arrived a little too late.
Late 2005, bomb doctor Azahari Husin blew himself up in just an average residential area in the town of Batu, in the mountains near Malang. Here the police arrived a little too late.

The small house in the housing complex in the hills of Batu is one like many others. A small garden in front, car park and a separate entrance for visitors. Let's be clear, when I was here for the first time, mister bomb-doctor Azahari has been dead for a long time already and the exploded house has become somewhat of a tourist destination. Even VCD's with tv-images from the police raid were sold here now. I bought one, but I wasn't able to retrieve it anymore, must have gone somewhere though. I bought it so that I would at least watch it at least once, but these kind of VCD's are in fact not needed when you follow the news here just a little bit. You will often see the same kind of images, more often than you would think at first.

So Azahari blew up himself, end of story. All the police could do is watch, because this man would not be making any statements anymore. Outside some directions in the exploded house it stayed relatively peaceful. Of course the police here will not just hand out important information to the media here, but a press release every once in a while about who is busted or killed this time is more common here. In this way, the daily broadcasts with 'criminal' facts can continue to fill their hours broadcasting time, together with a lot of advertisements. Until two weeks ago, terrorism was fairly unimportant at the surface.

Yourself as a terrorist

And when you take a look at what you do in your personal life as a terrorist, then you will find some very basic things as well. Not that every person around here is a terrorist - luckily more often a tourist - but I have to admit that I sometimes think about how to handle something if I truly was a terrorist. Flying within the borders of the Indonesian republic is something like that. I fairly frequently use a plane and represent a minority with that in Indonesia, but still. You can enter a plane at a random airport without any form of identification. Recently I was asked for my identity card for the first time. I had just flown from Yogyakarta to Jakarta with Lion Air to pick up family there. I wasn't allowed to fly back just like that. The cute young women behind the counter looked at me when I told that I didn't bring my identity papers with me, I was just here to pick up some people and didn't even think about that as a matter of fact.

A simple copy of my passport - which I always carry with me - wasn't sufficient as well. My last chance was a shiny gold-colored kartu kredit. That gold didn't originate from any kind of goldcard, but is the standard card of Dutch bank Rabobank. No pass photo on it or any other personal details which they could check. My ticket I simply booked in an office in Yogyakarta and I paid cash, like I usually do. I could only hope they were able to find my name in a somewhat proper way in the computers of Lion Air, because two first names and a last name that is in three pieces, that is really strange. With that name alone I would probably be categorized as a terrorist in some countries; but there were no 'bin' or 'al' in my name, just 'van' en 'der'. The woman walked away with my credit card, out my direct view. Never do that I was told, but until today nothing happened and I already have a new one here, straight from the Netherlands.

Names on tickets are far from perfect as you can see. This ticket was issued by Garuda Indonesia and my name only contains five characters, far too short, but because there is no check or whatsoever, it doesn't really matter as well.
Names on tickets are far from perfect as you can see. This ticket was issued by Garuda Indonesia and my name only contains five characters, far too short, but because there is no check or whatsoever, it doesn't really matter as well.

It took a few minutes - long enough to make a copy of my card for every member of the staff present in that office at that time - before the came back, neutral face. I suspected that she had to tell me that I wasn't allowed on and that the boss was listening just around the corner. She put my credit card through the hole in the window. She sat down in the too large chair with wheels and started typing some details from my ticket. A few moments later I got my boarding pass. How my name was printed on that I don't exactly remember, but not according my credit card - which states the same name as my passport. Later on I wasn't checked again, and that is not because I have a different color of skin, but just because there was no real check again outside scanning some bags and suitcases. Domestic flights are easy, noted.

Transferring money

Because my savings are on a Dutch bank and not an Indonesian one, it might happen that I need to transfer money from the Netherlands to Indonesia. Earlier I was told that amounts above a certain amount will be checked for fraudulent transactions, maybe that was around 5,000 Guilders at that time, a whole lot of money. I never had such amounts of money so I didn't have to worry about that at that time. Since I am here I have more time for things other than working, which makes me think what is the best way to get a lot of money here. In fact it's completely useless, because a small backpack bomb is said to be priced at just a few euro, and at least one stupid person who is willing to pull the cord for you.

Since about three years I have a bank account here, as a foreigner at my own name. Back in the old days you could simply open one with a passport. Soon after these regulations were changes as well and you had to show some form of a fixed address as well. As a foreigner that meant you have to show a stay permit - temporary or not - now. Since July 2004 I received a number of letters reminding me of updating my details at the bank. They all arrived at an address I never lived and since the person who lived there moved out as well. So in fact this would be the classic example of a bank account that could be closed down. Nothing is less true, because I now use that account on an almost daily base. Maybe that is the exact reason why they don't close it, because money is made with it.

Sending money from the Netherlands to Indonesia is just as easy as getting it from your account here. You send the money via your online bank account and four days later - as maximum, it can be done in two as well - it will be on your other account. Then you can go to the ATM to get your bills. What you do with it doesn't matter of course but because I have to eat and I don't have to gill small backpacks with exploding chemical compounds, I am really happy it just works like this. That there are others who abuse this system is a given fact of course, but well, what else to do? Sending the money via Western Union is very expensive for example. Every self-respecting terrorist would not use that, or maybe it's just the best because you don't need to have an own bank account and you have to supply less personal details to get your money.

Saturday evening in the shopping mall

Crowded places always seem a good location for the random Lonely Planet-terrorist, because the other one told that that place was so nice, I will go there a well. Who doesn't know them, a bunch of paper with a blue cover. Nothing wrong to use them as a tourist, but if you have other aspirations, it can be pretty darn dangerous for other people on that location. A first I would like to say that I'm not afraid for anything like this, however I realize that some things can just happen to you. A terrorist with an exploding bag is still fairly small scale, but a Kijang (car brand) full of easy-to-explode materials causes somewhat more powerful scenes, especially when it is a crowded day at a place that looks like a Western - and thus wrong - in certain people's eyes.

At a crowded Saturday night near Ambarukmo Plaza, not too far from home, dozens of policemen are regulating the dense traffic flow on the main road. One lane is packed with several hundreds of meters of waiting people who want to enter the parking space below the mall; average waiting time is ten minutes. And then you are not even inside yet. Outside, in the cool of the early evening are many youngsters - boys and girls together - sitting down on the wide stairs in front of the entrance; making a phone-call, sending SMS, chit-chatting and what else. The newly planted palm trees are in one row on the pavement and the ugly decoration lights are present here as well.

Near the entrance of the parking-basement is a small sign citing that all vehicles are checked. Two security guards with a plastic hat and a mirror on a long stick are smoking a cigarette. Motorbikes pass the long line of cars on both sides only to queue themselves on the ramp down towards the basement. Some cars - mostly with 'foreign' license plates - are checked with the mirror, but this is mainly just to show to the people who is in charge. No efforts are made to look inside the car as well, the place where more stuff can be put if I'm not wrong.

A white van with Japanese tourists from the southern part of the city passes the long queue of cars. Most likely these tourists are brought directly to the entrance. It is crowded there with dozens of taxi's and hundreds of motorbikes that are parked everywhere, even in gardens. This is a Saturday night and you will know that. Near the huge entrance are a dozen guards with those plastic hats, armed with merely a wooden stick, just in case things get out of hand. The white van speeds up and slowly approaches the huge entrance. Here many people are waiting as well, their boyfriends, friends or someone with transport to get back home. The white van arrives and the six Japanese tourists get out.

A big bang follows, the van is ripped in pieces. Windows in the area explode. Vehicles near the previously still white van are blown away just like dozens of innocent visitors which had a Satuday night off, sinners the are. Guards together with many others lose their life at the same moment car alarms are triggered and the first people scramble away from the scene in pure intuitive fear. It has happened and it wasn't really that difficult to become world news only after leaving the earth as a martyr for a higher aim. That almost al victims are Indonesians has become something less important by now. It has happened anyway.


I want to make clear that I absolutely have no wish that anything like this will happen to anyone, however I try to indicate how easy certain things are, even if there are laws to prevent it from happening. It will never be the law that will stop such things from happening; it will be man themselves who has to take (preventive) actions. It's not the law that caused the arrest of the possible terrorist cell in Yogyakarta late last month, it was man; intelligence, police and fellow Indonesians which probably didn't like their neighbors plans and contacted those who can handle such events properly. This will hopefully prevent the above situation - and others to come.

Posted in Terrorism @ 07 April 2007 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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Mooi in elkaar gezet met foto,s zo iets is prachtig te volgen als je die taal machtig bent ik lees graag colums of hoe ze nu heten Weblog.
helaas is dit voor mij een weg te ver maar dat is mijn eigen schuld had ik maar>>>>>>> rest kan u zelf invullen Emoticon: Laugh out loud Emoticon: Laugh out loud Emoticon: Yeah right!

User icon of kiwimave
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(Edited) Posted @ 07 April 2007 12:44

Jeroen the rules are changing....from next year you have to show your photo ID when checking in for a flight.. fotokopi tidak cukup

User icon of Yerun
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Removed to prevent your adress from being spammed. Click this to go to the user profile. zieleffe;

You can find this story in Dutch as well:

Removed to prevent your adress from being spammed. Click this to go to the user profile. kiwi;

of course things are changing, but officially you have to identify yourself already.. it's just that no one really cares about it. So I am curious about what will happen next year. I guess most people have a KTP (valid or not is another issue) with them, so it should not be a real problem though.

User icon of sidia
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Yes thats correct , everybody has to identified themselfes , there are many Id cards like KTP , SIM , School ID etc.
Foreigners have their own ID , Passaporto, Kitas , Kitap.

There are millions (> 16 mln) indonesians , mostly childeren and the poors who has no Id.

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I'm Sory Ican not vinded the Duts versie?
help maaf stuped, but Sory Emoticon: Laugh out loud

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