The home affairs minister’s portfolio does not include overseeing the police force, which reports directly to the president. However, Tito, 54, will still be indirectly involved in Indonesia’s counterterrorism activities as his ministry is charged with formulating draft bills on domestic security, according to a police source.
Terror expert Ali Fauzi, a PhD candidate from the University of Muhammadiyah Malang, believes JAD cell members are the biggest threat Indonesia is currently facing, as most of the terror attacks in the country since 2016 were perpetrated by the group.
Ali set up the Circle of Peace Foundation to help those convicted of terrorism to disengage from violence and help them find work to prevent them from returning to their old life. He has apologised for his brothers’ actions.
A senior counterterrorism official, speaking to the South China Morning Post on condition of anonymity, said there had been a consolidation of Isis deportees from Syria returning to Indonesia. He also warned of a rise in al-Qaeda’s network in the country, as well as those convicted of terrorism coming together.
“Future threats include the targeting of political events considered ‘un-Islamic’ by terror groups,” said the source, adding that the police force and government officials would be the main targets.
“He has been a true professional, a full-blooded policeman. I had the privilege of working closely with him since 2001 and we had remained very brotherly since then,” said Malaysian Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador, who has spent more than 15 years in domestic and regional counterterrorism operations.
“[Tito] knows how to assemble the best team with the best people,” said Nasir Abas, former leader of al-Qaeda affiliate Jemaah Islamiah. Nasir, once the most-wanted jihadist in Southeast Asia , is now involved in deradicalisation efforts and other initiatives to counter violent extremism in Indonesia after being caught by Tito in 2003.
On Tito’s departure from the police force, Professor Syamsuddin Haris, senior researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences’ Centre for Political Studies, said the country “has been dealing with terrorism for a long time now and all the systems are in place and are well developed”.
The handling of terrorism and political violence will be in good hands under Idham…
President Joko Widodo has nominated police general Idham Azis as Tito’s successor. He has to undergo a fit and proper test in parliament before being officially installed. Idham, 56, is currently head of the police’s Criminal Investigation Agency, and analysts say he has wide-ranging experience in handling counterterrorism operations.
“There will not be any changes [in these operations] as the candidate to succeed Tito, Commissioner General Idham, has had a long career in Densus 88 and was once its deputy commander,” said Solahudin, a researcher from the University of Indonesia’s Centre for Terrorism and Social Conflict.
“He is someone who has a deep understanding of terrorism. Therefore the handling of terrorism and political violence will be in good hands under Idham Azis.”
Idham worked together with Tito on several major counterterrorism operations, including the slaying of Malaysian bomb makers Azahari Husin in 2005 and Noordin M. Top in 2009. The men were key figures in Jemaah Islamiah, and were also responsible for the Jakarta bombings of the JW Marriott hotel in 2003 and the Australian embassy in 2004.
Indonesian Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono sounded a note of caution over the government’s counterterrorism measures, explaining that they sometimes came at the expense of fundamental rights.
“The 2018 counterterrorism law has provisions that facilitate rights violations by authorities, including the police, and ultimately undermines public safety,” he said. “The law relies on an overbroad and ambiguous definition of terrorism. The definition could be used to target peaceful political activities of indigenous groups, environmental advocates, and religious or political organisations.”