Indonesia Cannot Be Pressured

Indonesian Hostages

JAKARTA, KOMPAS — The Indonesian government cannot be pressured by anyone, including by the Abu Sayyaf pirates who kidnapped 10 Indonesian citizens serving as crew members of the Brahma 12 tugboat and the Anand 12 barge in the Philippines. The Indonesian government must also continue to communicate with the government of the Philippines to ensure the safety of the 10 Indonesians who were taken hostage.

Philippine Armed Forces Chief of Staff Roy Cimatu points to a photo of Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Sabaya during a media conference at the southern command June 21, 2002 in Zamboanga City, southern Philippines. Sabaya has reportedly been killed in an encounter between government troops in the southern Philippines. The Abu Sayyaf group has been linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group.Getty Images/Gabriel MistralPhilippine Armed Forces Chief of Staff Roy Cimatu points to a photo of Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Sabaya during a media conference at the southern command June 21, 2002 in Zamboanga City, southern Philippines. Sabaya has reportedly been killed in an encounter between government troops in the southern Philippines. The Abu Sayyaf group has been linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group.

Regarding this issue, Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) advisory council chief Din Syamsuddin said that he hoped the government would find people who can open a dialogue with the Abu Sayyaf leadership.

"We cannot establish contact with them through the Filipino government as Abu Sayyaf sees the Filipino government as its enemy," Din said in Jakarta on Thursday (31/3/2016).

According to Din, it may be possible that the Muslim population in Mindanao has access to the Abu Sayyaf leadership. Therefore, the government needs to approach them.

According to National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) chief Tito Karnavian, the Abu Sayyaf group currently has no followers or connections with radical groups in Indonesia.

"There was (an Indonesian radical group) connected with the Abu Sayyaf group, but it was a long time ago," he said.

The kidnapping of the 10 Indonesians, Tito said, was alleged to have been done by the Abu Sayyaf group to obtain a ransom. The group is reportedly having financial difficulties.

Regarding this, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung reaffirmed that the government would not pay the 50 million peso (Rp 14.3 billion, or US$1.08 million) ransom requested by the kidnappers. The decision is part of the government's policy of rejecting any form of pressure, especially from militias and pirates, in attempts to release hostages.

Safe

State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Sutiyoso said that the 10 Indonesians taken hostage were all safe. However, he said they were not all in one place. Besides the 10 Indonesians, two Canadians, six Filipinos and one citizen each of the Netherlands, Italy and Norway are currently being held hostage by the same group.

"BIN continues to supply the most updated information to the President to help the government take appropriate actions. Indeed, we have prepared several options," Sutiyoso said.

Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo has ordered training for the Army's Quick Response Strike Force in Tarakan, North Kalimantan. The training, led by the Army Strategic Reserves Command's (Kostrad) Division I Commander Maj. Gen. Sudirman, involves the Kostrad, the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) and the Security Strike Force of the Navy's Eastern Fleet Command.

Tarakan is relatively close to Sulu, the Philippines, reportedly where the 10 Indonesians are being held. However, Mulawarman Military Command spokesman Col. (Inf.) Andi Gunawan said that the training was not related to the hostage case. He said that only the TNI Main Headquarters knew details about the training.

(PRA/RWN/ODY/SAN/INA/ONG/AHA/BEN)

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