Counterterrorism Squad Densus 88 Now Its Own Police Unit

By webadmin on 01:54 am Sep 16, 2010
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Nivell Rayda

Jakarta. Terrorism and legal analysts on Wednesday hailed the National Police’s
move to separate the elite counterterrorism squad Densus 88 from the
detectives unit, saying it would boost the unit’s effectiveness in
fighting extremism.

As part of an internal restructuring
process, the National Police on Wednesday officially turned Densus 88
into a dedicated department within the force, directly responsible to
the National Police chief.

“This would make counterterrorism
effort more effective,” terrorism expert Noor Huda Ismail told the
Jakarta Globe.

“Before, officers from three different
departments were involved in Densus 88. The officers conducting raids
are from different divisions from those conducting surveillance, making
communication difficult and often resulting in unsuccessful operations.”

Ismail highlighted the killing of terrorism suspect Dulmatin,
who is believed to have participated in a series of bomb attacks in the

“The surveillance team had already identified him and
had been on his tail for weeks before there was a raid. The surveillance
team even reported that he was cornered and the raid team could have
easily captured him alive but instead they shot him,” he said.

is much more useful alive because he could provide a lot of valuable
information on the Southeast Asia Al Qaeda terror network.”

Police Watch chairman Neta S Pane said that the separation meant the
counterterrorism squad would enjoy greater funding to fight terrorists.

88 received a lot of financial support from other countries. If it
remains under the detectives unit we wouldn’t know if the entire fund
and equipment aid was channeled to the unit, funneled to other divisions
or pocketed by rogue officials,” Neta told the Globe.

“There is
no guarantee that the money will not be illegally pocketed. But at
least by making Densus a dedicated department there should be more
transparency and accountability of the spending.”

Ismail added
that by making Densus 88 a separate department, communication would
improve with other law enforcement agencies, particularly the newly
established National Anti-Terrorism Agency (BNPT).

Human rights
groups have criticized the formation of the BNPT saying that the agency
paved the way for more involvement from the military, largely criticized
for its past records of human rights violations.

Ismail said
the military may in some cases be needed in counter-terrorism. “The
military has more experience in jungle warfare and should have been
involved in operations like that against the Aceh training camp,” the
expert said.

Ismail was referring to a police crackdown in
February of a suspected terrorism camp in Aceh. It took police three
days, despite deploying at least 300 officers, before they finally took
control of the camp, and another month before the majority of the 50
people involved in the camp were arrested. At least three officers were
killed in the operation.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen.
Marwoto Soeto said the squad would remain under a one-star general,
despite earlier speculation that it would be headed by a two-star
general. Densus 88 is currently headed by Brig. Gen. Tito Karnavian.

National Police also changed its internal structure for other
divisions. Some divisions were merged, like Interpol affairs, which now
comes under the International Relations Division.