Indonesia Casts Wide Net in Terrorism Arrests

Densus 88 element raid.

Densus 88 element raid.

“Jamaah Islamiyah is estimated to have 6,000 to 7,000 members and sympathizers spread throughout Indonesia in its various branches and is thought to have infiltrated various government and civc institutions.” 

Indonesia’s special counterterrorism detachment, Densus 88, conducted a series of arrests in late November targeting members of Jamaah Islamiyah (JI).  According to the excerpted article from Indonesian site, which focused on domestic affairs, the scope of the arrests was unprecedented.  The article notes the arrests extended not only to JI itself, but also to the Indonesian Ulema [Islamic Scholars] Council (MUI).

According to the article, JI has up to 7,000 members, some of whom have infiltrated government agencies and civic organizations.  The justification for arresting MUI members, therefore, is not that MUI itself supports JI, but that JI has infiltrated MUI.  The solution to JI’s infiltration of MUI, according to Indonesian officials cited, is for MUI to conduct more robust background checks of members it recruits. Although the recent arrests by Densus 88 of JI members has affected MUI, the latter’s scholars have shown approval for Densus 88.  The article reports that MUI announced that it supports the government’s efforts to root out terrorism and maintain the security and territorial integrity of Indonesia.  By working with the MUI, Indonesian authorities have been able to arrest JI and MUI members suspected of involvement in terrorism without alienating the MUI more broadly.  Indonesian-language also reported on 13 December that Densus 88 finally arrested one of the JI-affiliated suspects in the March 2021 bombing of a church in Makassar.


“Forum Santri Dukung Densus 88 Polri Tangkap Terduga Pelaku Teroris (Santri Forum Supports Detachment 88 Police Arrest Suspected Terrorist), (Indonesian public affairs focused media outlet), 25 November 2021.

Densus 88 Anti-terror Police have again arrested suspected terrorists who are affiliated with Jamaah Islamiyah, one of whom is an active member of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI). Jamaah Islamiyah is estimated to have 6,000 to 7,000 members and sympathizers spread throughout Indonesia in its various branches and is thought to have infiltrated various government and civic institutions.

The head of FOKSI emphasized that Jamaah Islamiyah should not only be viewed from the angle of terror attacks because its movement has entered into a socio-religious institutions in the community. Regarding the arrest of MUI individuals who are suspected of being linked to terrorism, he argues that terrorist network cells have infiltrated various circles and groups. He hoped that MUI would not be permissive to its administrators who support ideas of radicalism and terrorism. FOKSI conveyed that it supports the government’s efforts in eradicating terrorism in order to maintain the integrity of the country because the Indonesian people must receive safety and freedom from radicalism and terrorism.

Source: Densus 88 Tangkap Buron Teroris, Diduga Terkait Bom Gereja Katedral Makassar (Detachment 88 Arrests Fugitive Terrorist, Allegedly Related to Makassar Cathedral Church Bombing), (Indonesian language news outlet), 13 December 2021.

The Special Detachment (Densus) 88 Anti-terror Police arrested a suspected terrorist in South Sulawesi. The Head of Banops Densus 88 Anti-terror Police confirmed the information. He said the arrest was made last week. According to him, the perpetrator was included on the terrorist wanted list (DPO) and suspected of being linked to the bombing at the Makassar Cathedral Church in South Sulawesi on March 28, 2021.

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Image: Densus 88 element raid.
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