Sunday, 12 Sya'ban 1441 / 05 April 2020

Sunday, 12 Sya'ban 1441 / 05 April 2020

The end of terrorist Santoso adventure

Selasa 03 May 2016 18:38 WIB

Red: Julkifli Marbun

Datuak Tjumano

Datuak Tjumano

Foto: istimewa

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, By Datuak Tjumano*)


Santoso alias Abu Wardah, leader of East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT) becomes the most wanted person of Indonesian security authorities, and is on the list of specially designated global terrorist/SDGT released by US Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Santoso pledged his allegiance to IS in 2014, and is believed to be responsible for a number of robberies, abductions, murders, and suicide bombings in some places in Indonesia. According to the developing information, Santoso group has become the main actor of fire shooting towards police officers at office of Bank Central Asia (BCA)in Palu and bomb blast in Korowouw in 2011. Furthermore, Santoso group was also responsible for the death of two police officers, namely Andi Sapa and Sudirman in 2012, as well as bomb blast in Smakertraffic copstation, the attack of Brimob patrol in Kalora, Northern Poso, and Christmas bomb in Sentral market, Poso.   

The long list of crimes of Santoso group, have led to material losses and casualties from both civilians and security forces. Between the years 2013-2014, Santoso group masterminded suicide bombings in Poso district police, bombing in MapolresPalu and Mapolsek East Palu, kidnapped people in Sedoa and Tamadue, as well as killed people inTaunca. This group action is increasingly savage and far from the teachings of religion following the murder of three civilians in Taunca and 3 residents of Sausu throughbeheading, as well as the shooting that killed two members of the police, namely First Police Officer (Iptu) Bryan T and SermaZainudin in 2015.

Based on profiles and crime traces of Santoso group, it’s considered fair for the Indonesian security forces to set Santoso group as the top priority in the operation of a combined police and military security codenamed Operation Tinombala which began in early January 2016. The group ofSantosois not only a threat to the security forces, but also threat to society broadly. It is right to consider Santoso group whichalso involve a number of foreign nationals from Uighur, China, as an international threat. The group also mobilizes support from international terrorist network, so it cannot be allowed to flourish in Indonesia and to be suppressed any risk at stake.

Right Strategy

The joint task force which has been started since January 2016 will be extended until the whole members of Santoso group are arrested. This measure is taken as a field dynamics response that requires the right strategy. Joint task force should ensure that Santoso and his followers are arrested, also gives a warning for other radical groups in Indonesia that Indonesian security forces have the effective operation ability to roll up anyone trying to create terror in Indonesia. Therefore, despite the debate on the necessary resources, either personnel, the budget or the operation time which is understandable, it should not overlook the main goal of ensuring Santoso group can be rolled up to the roots and to minimize the civilian casualties potential.

If we look carefully, Santoso group is a terrorist group that has two important capitals that must be anticipated by the joint task force. First is the ability of guerrillas and field organizing. The group controls the forest terrain in Biru Mountains, Central Sulawesi, and is trained militarily. They have the ability to survive in the jungle and have establishedthe layered operations team, namely the surveillance team, logistics team and the main command team. Second is the doctrine and militancy. As general characteristic of other radical groups, Santoso group also develops the doctrine of jihad and militancy in order to legitimize its goal to form and maintain the solidity of the group. This is done to prevent a split in the group and infiltration from the outside. Both capitalscertainly make the group of Santoso, despite of its few followers, important to bemonitored carefully by the joint task force.

Carl Von Clausewitz (1780-1831), a Prussian army officer in his book titled On War argued that if you want to win over the enemy, you must also consider efforts to confront the enemy defense power (power of resistance), which is expressed as a result of two inseparablefactors, namely the totality of existing means of warfare and the power of volition (will) of the enemy. Will is usually a blend of; fighting spirit, militancy, patriotism, and unyielding, high morale and so on. The strength level of means of warfare can be relatively measured, but “will” is very difficult to determine and quantify.

Clausewitz's opinion is relevant to the situation faced by Tinombala task force. Santoso group is certainly not comparable to the military facilities owned by the task force ofTinombala, but the militancy and doctrine developed within the group of Santoso can lead to a situation that is different from the principles of war in general. Santoso group can use women and children who were brought in their hiding as human shields when they’re oppressed due to reason of Jihad. It is possible that the involvement of women and children is part of the design to face Tinombalatask force operations. As is known, there are three women in the group of Santoso, namely Jamiatun Muslim alias Bunga alias UmiDelimaas Santoso’s wife, Nurmi Usman alias Oma asBasri’s wife, andTiniSusantika alias UmiFarelas Ali Kalora’s wife, and their children.

Strategy of siege in the forest areas of Biru Mountain does not only cut off the supply lines of communication and logistics, but also restrictsthe movement ofSantoso group. Technically, this isolation will weaken the ability to survive and the combat power of Santoso group. As a result, many men were coming down the mountain due to starvation. Psychologically, isolation cause demoralization that accelerates internal divisions and lower the militancy of Santoso group members. The demoralization was detected through the confession of Ibadu Rohman alias Amru and Mohammad Sonhaji alias Fakih, two follower’s of Santoso, who were arrested after escaping on 15 April 2016. Both claimed there were a split and a crisis of confidence against Santoso, mainly due to the presence of women in the group who were favored that it raised jealousy and disappointment. Some members of the group doubted the validity and consistency of the doctrine of Jihad so as to be willing to leave the family that had been taught bySantoso.

Matter of Time

According to Brig. Gen. Rudi Sufahriadi, Central Sulawesi Police Chief as the Person in Charge of Operations Tinombala, as of April 2016, there are three members of the Santoso group who have surrendered, including IrfanMaulana who hasbeen successfully influenced through intelligence operations. It was believed to be the impact of the joint task force operations and internal division within the group of Santoso. TheTinombala operation has successfully shot dead eight members of the group Santoso to date, and is estimated to have shrunk Santoso group members to become around 25 people from initially 40 people.

From the developments related to the important steps that have been achieved by the joint task force, it is clear that the strategy employed in operations of law enforcement and restoration of order has shown progress. The goal to cripple the ability of operations, capture the whole group of Santoso, and force him to surrender is a matter of time. Sooner or later the pressure due to the siege would lead the group of Santoso in two choices, eitherout of hiding and fight against the joint task force or surrender and prepare toreceive fair sentence for their committed crimes. The end of Santoso group’s adventure is just a matter of time.

*The writer is an observer focusing on Indonesia’s strategic issue


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