The Jakarta Bombings: What’s Next for Indonesia?

This week, I spoke on WBAI’s Asia Pacific Forum about the recent attacks on the Marriot Hotel and the Ritz-Carlton in south Jakarta and what the country faces in the days ahead.

(Photo source:
(Photo source:

Listen to the segment below:
Asia Pacific Forum, WBAI 99.5fm, July 21, 2009, New York City. Hosts: Leyla Mei and Irene Tung.

On the morning of the bombings, I received an email from a friend in the city. “I’m so angry,” he said. “We’ve been working so hard to make things better for our country.” It’s a sentiment of frustration that I think is shared by many in the country. But questions linger: Who is responsible? Will the violence of the recent past return? How will the country’s neighbors – the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore – react?

A new briefing, released by the International Crisis Group today, concludes that after last week’s bombings “The easiest step and the most unwise would be to turn the anti-terrorism law into an internal security act that allowed for lengthy preventive detention.”

The ICG has long pressed the government on one item in particular: prison reform. Without it, the country’s deradicalization program – which so far has received praise for its work – could be undermined. When I spoke with Sydney Jones, project director of the Southeast Asia region, in her Jakarta office last year, she emphasized this point.

Indonesian media and the Wall Street Journal have identified one of the suspects of the recent bombings as a graduate of the Al-Mukmin school in Central Java. (The school responded to the Jakarta Globe here.) I visited the school last October and spoke with the leader, Ustadz Wayhuddin. I filed a report for World Politics Review in November 2008. Also, you can see a blog post and listen to a radio report from February here.


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