Yudhoyono says terror threat remains

Indonesia is still under threat from terrorists despite the recent arrests of key militants, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Monday.

Yudhoyono said convicted terrorists tended to return to their old practices after completing their prison sentences.

“Although the key figures who had made our country insecure for the last 10 years have been disabled, terrorism remains a threat because the perpetrators who have been jailed simply repeat the same acts,” he said.

Police announced last week that they had foiled a plot to assassinate Yudhoyono, take over hotels, kill foreigners and establish an Islamic state.

Police have arrested 58 suspected militants and killed 13 in a series of raids since February, when authorities broke up a training camp run by a previously unknown terrorist group calling itself al-Qaida in Aceh.

Authorities believe they have incapacitated the group but acknowledged they were still hunting at least two key suspects, Abdullah Sunata and Umar Patek.

In 2006, Sunata was sentenced to seven years in jail for possession of weapons and for hiding Noordin M. Top, a Malaysian wanted in connection with five major bombings in Indonesia, who was killed by police in September. Sunata was released in April 2009 for good behavior but returned to the terrorist network.

Patek is believed to have been hiding in the southern Philippines since the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings.

Yudhoyono condemned the militants for establishing a base in Aceh, which has been relatively calm since the government signed a peace deal with rebels in 2005, ending 29 years of fighting.

“I call on all people of Indonesia to save our nation, our people, from the terrorism threat, and to all provincial leaders and head of districts to be alert and contribute to terrorism prevention,” the President said. “We have to save our children, the younger generation, from the traps of terrorism.”

Indonesia has battled Islamist militants with links to al-Qaida since 2002, when extremists bombed a nightclub district on Bali Island killing 202 people, most of them foreigners. Since then, a much-praised regional security crackdown has seen hundreds of militants killed or captured and convicted, but they have proved to be a resilient foe. The last major attack was in July 2009 when suicide bombers targeted luxury hotels in the capital Jakarta.

Also Monday, prosecutors were due to read out their sentencing demands for suspected terrorist Amir Abdillah in a Jakarta court.

Abdillah was charged with concealing information about the bombings of the hotels last July. He is the first alleged conspirator to face trial over the hotel bombings, which ended a four-year lull in terrorist attacks in Indonesia.

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We are a young, Indonesian urban family who are exposed to many things in our lives. This is what we see, hear, think, feel and desire.
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