Critical Review: “Security Community and Southeast Asia: Australia, the U.S., and ASEAN’s Counter-Terror Strategy”

Author(s): Andrew Chau – University of California Press

This article specifically talks about ASEAN Security community building initiative which examines the security in the context of regional, sub regional as well as national policy strategies to deal with regional threat of transnational terrorism through networks of cooperation.

The introduction of this cooperation has begun by initiating ASEAN ninth summit in Bali in 2003 which became the starting point of political leaders in the creation of ASEAN Security Community (ASC) by the year 2020. The ASC plan concerns to peacefully resolve transnational terrorism problem through diplomatic processes of dialogue and consensus. Negotiation settlements will be valued under ASEAN norms of respect for state sovereignty and non-interference in the domestic affairs of neighboring. ASC aims to strengthen the dense networks of security cooperation among regional states under the form of collective identity through international relations platform. But it seems like in reality ASEAN only focus on ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) instead of ASC. This article should provides the general overview about three visions of ASEAN and make it specific into AEC on how it is necessary for ASEAN to focus on security in responding today’s phenomenon. The article needs to provide further research about counter-terror policies coordination between regional level and sub-regional level among states need to be equal and not limited to some countries only.

For the further explanation, this articles tries to proof us the management of intra-ASEAN territorial disputes problems among states without any military force approaches. Which under ASEAN Regional Forum leadership upholds the security stability of ASEAN members is still there to maintain the regional security among the larger Asia-Pacific powers, representing an institutional conception of international normative cooperation security interactions environment. But again the explanation about ASEAN history in territorial disputes over the Spratlys and Ligitan and Sipadan islands among states is too much that’s not even related to the main concern of AEC specifically into counter-terror strategy based on ASEAN member states experiences  in dealing with terrorist group.

The threat of terrorism towards terrorism cooperation among ASEAN members states to be an emerging security community.  Commitment of Southeast Asian countries in fighting terrorism after 9/11 phenomenon by declaring Joint Action to Counter-Terrorism as ASEAN’s international counter-terror policies. In order to strengthen national mechanism to combat terrorism in areas of intelligence sharing; law enforcement; regional capacity program to do investigation. Beside that, in responding Bali Bombings ASEAN released a declaration to establish Southeast Asia Regional Center for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT) in following several workshop in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Bali. Beside that, ASEAN and the Australian Agency for International Development (Aus-AID) jointly organized the Foundation Course for Senior Officials in the Theory if Counter-Terrorism Recognition and Multilateral Collaboration in Jakarta in 2004. ASEAN also received the proposal from U.S to interdict vessels suspected of carrying pirates or terrorist under supervision of Regional Maritime Security Initiative for the waterways of Malacca Strait in early 2004 but got rejected of some member countries which are Indonesia and Malaysia because it should become primary responsibility of littoral countries of the strait. Significantly in 2007 ASEAN has ratified the convention of counter-terrorism regarding to law enforcement authority under the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of states as well as non-interference in the internal affairs of other parties.

Since the principle of non-interference in ASEAN, it seems really hard to go further in order to counter-terrorism by maximizing the national capabilities in strengthening information sharing among member states. Even though Australia and the U.S. supports significantly became meaningful effort for ASEAN in developing the region’s counter-terrorist capabilities in the areas of intelligence and law enforcement. But the article does not make it specific in which part of ASEAN fora. whether ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) or other ASEAN fora. At the end the article tries to inform us that there is no specific ASEAN strategy for the future in countering terrorism. There is no further and specific explanation about ASEAN – Australia and the U.S. relations regarding to non-interference value towards the implementation of some policies have made by ASEAN. Even though this article talks a lot about ASEAN, but not really engage to external partners of ASEAN which are Australia and the U.S. so at the end the idea of multilateral cooperation can not be explained well through this article.

In dealing with terrorism in Indonesia, US gave assistance through CIA as well as supported  Australian Federal Police (AFP) since the tragedy of 9/11 and following by Bali Bombings until radical extremist organization such as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Malaysia has supported U.S. military operations in Afghanistan by allowing overflight clearance during Operation Enduring Freedom based on Internal Security Act 9 (ISA). Malaysia and the U.S. also co-hosted the ASEAN Regional Forum Inter-sessional Meeting on Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime in Sabah, which included all 10 Southeast Asian nations. Singapore also supports the U.S. war on terrorism in order to maintain investor confidence in the city-state. Indeed, Singapore’s externally oriented economy relies heavily on foreign direct investment, which would recede if security concerns like terrorism became an issue. That’s why Singapore’s counter-terrorism responses involved increasingly close cooperation with the U.S. The USPACOM Joint Intelligence Center regularly shares information with Singapore’s Joint Counter-Terrorism Center, where U.S. SIGINT is exchanged for Singaporean human intelligence (HUMINT). The Philippines also join US Led anti-terrorism campaign after 9/11 tragedy through military support (training) as well as Thailand through US – Counter Terrorism Intelligence Center (CTIC) in coordinating with Thailand’s security services in coordinating with 20 CIA agents.

Interest mapping of ASEAN member states – U.S. and Australia is really needed to explain in this article in order to reach the objective matter of this cooperation. Because it is impossible for certain country to give a assistance especially budget and military support aim to countering terrorism if there is no interest behind that decision. Since the article tries to examine the security aspect in the context of regional, sub regional as well as national policy strategies to deal with regional threat of transnational terrorism through networks of cooperation, this article is better providing some stakeholders that possibly can be role model in combating terrorist issue such as Terrorist Department of European Union; Counter-Terrorism Fusion Center (CTF) and Fusion Task Force (FTF) of  Interpol or even in coordinating with United Nations under special agency of terrorism. Because some countries are still lacking of central intelligence sharing database on terrorism on in other hand facing the inequality of technology. Overall this article  is  explains too much stakeholders and some specific matters are missing

“Indonesia’s Counter-Terror Strategy in Public Policy”

Transnational crime considered as a serious matter for global security since this  complex criminal actions led international cooperation collectively in order to respond the threat. Transnational crime activities became of one global phenomenon because: (1) organized by more than one country; (2) preparation, planning, instruction and supervision organized in other state; (3) including organized criminal group to connect the criminal action from one state to another state; and (4) creating serious impact for other states as a whole. And these characteristics can be found in terrorism action as global threat for more than 7 decade since after World War II and already stated being global threat of the world until now.

Talking about terrorism will create various definitions related to this international criminal action based on the impact as well as characteristic of  this issue. But internationally, the definition of terrorism universally can be found in United Nations perspective:

“Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed, by (semi-) clandestine individual, group, or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reason, whereby-in contrast to assassination-the direct targets of attacks are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators. Threat-and violence-based communication processes between terrorist (organization), (imperiled) victims, and main targets are used to manipulate the main target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sough”

To make it more specific, United Nations Security Council also release the terrorism definition according to Resolution 1566 on 2014 which is:

Criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking hostages, with the propose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or an international organisation to do or to abstain from doing any act, which constitute offences within the scope of and as defined in the international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism

Indonesia as one of targeted state of terrorist attacks also has its own definition about terrorism as well based on constitutional article 6 number 15 on 2013 which is:

“Everyone that deliberate use violence or violence threat creating terror situation or fear to society globally or creating victim massively, by robbing the freedom or killing people and erasing treasure of people or creating explosion of strategic vital objects or environment or public facility or international facility

The rise of Al-Qaeda as the biggest terrorist group in the world became global concern in the past 12 years. Almost 7 decade United States provided security for global in land, sea, air, as well as outer space based on the capability to maintain the global security after 9/11 tragedy. Several efforts done by United States such as providing special army, adding military budget, systematic military operation, and never ended military services. But the United States power faced biggest challenge in time of war on terrorism era since all of efforts followed by civil war between Sunni and Shia in Iraq and make the situation getting worse over there. Other state, Indonesia also face the same problem and having cooperation with United States through Detachment 88 (Densus 88) operation in order to fight Al-Qaeda operation through Jama’ah Islamiyah. The fact is Pentagon already invest a lot amount of money to show the response to terrorism threat in Middle East and Asia through “Joint Emergent Operational” by using modern technology. Those efforts done to create stability in the states that potentially targeted by terrorism group or being home for terrorism group. Those efforts show us the commitment of several actors in combating terrorist group.

Engagement in military and other supporting mechanisms have been conducted in order to implement the counter-terrorism strategy of Indonesia. The Bali bombings were starting point in Indonesian History to combat terrorism. As a response to the Bali bombings and countering the terrorist threat, especially from the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorism threats and other violent Islamist radical and extremist groups in the future, Indonesia needs a sound strategy. The Indonesia’s Government has established the general frame of work principles and policies to combat terrorism in the country. The general framework has six principles, as follows: supremacy of law, indiscrimination, independence, democracy, and participation. The policy (strategy) used is direct and indirect approaches.

Supremacy of Law means that a legal framework is always the basis for action. Before the Bali bombings, Indonesia had ratified four international instruments related to the prevention and combating terrorism, namely Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft (1963); Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft (1970); Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety Aviation (1979), Chemical Weapon Convention (1993), and Biological Weapon Convention (1972). Additionally, Indonesia has also signed the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (1999), the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (1996) and has implemented two resolutions of the Security Council (1368/2001; 1373/2001).

The Indonesian Government issued two regulations: Regulation In-Lieu of Law No 1/2002 on the eradication of Terrorist Acts; Regulation In-Lieu of Law No.2/2002 on Eradication Terrorist Act in Bali 12 October 2002. In April 2003, The Indonesian Government established a new anti-terrorism Law (Law No 15/2003), which constitutes strong and comprehensive measures in dealing with terrorism threats. This Law defines the acts of terrorism which can be prosecuted by the Government, covers persons, Indonesian citizens, committing terrorist acts in Indonesia and foreign countries, toward foreign countries from Indonesia and vice versa. This Anti-Terrorism Law also introduces punishment ranging from a minimum three years to life sentence to death penalty for those who commit terrorism or assist their actions, authorizes the Government to detain and investigate suspected terrorist for three days based on initial intelligence information; to detain suspected terrorists based on sufficient evidence for a maximum of seven days, empowers the authorities to block bank accounts, to open and examine mail, and to intercept private telephone conversations and other communications of the suspect for sixty days at a time. The following highlights Indonesia’s efforts so far to create a foundation on which Indonesia continues to build the strength and capacity to counter terrorism.

Indonesia recognizes the urgent need to mount a universal and concerted response to rid societies of criminal acts of terrorism. Indonesia adopted Law No.15/2003 and 16/2003 as needs arise to crackdown on terrorism following the terrorist bombing attack in Bali on 12 October 2002. The first law serves as the general guideline for combating terrorists. The second law is specially drawn up to deal with the terrorist attacks against tourists in Bali on 12 October 2002, which left nearly 200 dead. It stipulates the law enforcers’ powers to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the attack. Two Presidential Instructions were also issued in the aftermath of the Bali tragedy, namely Presidential Instruction No. 4/2002 instructing the Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs to formulate a comprehensive policy in combating terrorism, and Presidential Instruction No. 5/2002 instructing the Head of the National Intelligence Agency to coordinate the activities of all the other intelligence agencies. As a follow up to Presidential Instruction No. 4/2002, the Desk for Coordination of Eradicating Terrorism (DCET) was established within the Office of the Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs. The Desk, composed of representatives from the relevant governmental agencies, is tasked to formulate Government policies in combating and eradicating terrorism in a coordinated manner.

The Law 16/2003 is drawn up to allow for the principle of retroactivity to be applied in the case of the 12 October 2002 terrorist attacks. Opposition to this principle of retroactivity maintains that it goes against both general legal principles and the 1945 Constitution. Critics also fear human rights violations resulting from the enforcement of such principle. However, terrorist attacks are not ordinary crimes. Terrorism has an indiscriminate, non-selective or random target. Terrorist attacks are extraordinary crimes intended to create a state of terror. Such crimes demand an extraordinary response. Nevertheless, the principle of retroactivity will strictly apply only for the purposes of investigation and prosecution against the perpetrators of the 12 October 2002 terrorist attacks. The legislation on terrorism provides the death penalty for natural persons and a one trillion Rupiah maximum fine for a corporation convicted of committing or threatening to commit acts of terrorism. It allows the authorities to detain people for seven days in the absence of strong legal evidence that the person may have committed terrorist acts. Intelligence reports can be used as priority evidence after being approved by a court of law with the approval process taking no longer than three days.

For investigation purposes, a suspect may be detained for six months. In implementing these regulations on terrorism, the government will do its utmost to avoid excesses for a better cause, which is to prevent violations of human rights and to protect its citizens from threats to their safety and security. Following the 5 August 2003 bomb blast in Jakarta, the government of Indonesia revised Law No.15/2003 with a view to ensuring its effectiveness in efforts to eliminate the criminal acts of terrorism. It is widely identified that terrorism activities may be funded from other kinds of crime, such as money laundering. Pursuant to Law No. 15/2002 pertaining to the Crime of Money Laundering, the government of Indonesia has also established an independent financial intelligence unit, the Indonesia Financial Transaction Report and Analysis Centre (INTRAC), the main task of which is to prevent and eradicate the crime of money laundering. The Indonesian legislation on combating criminal acts of terrorism is a specific one, as it contains new provisions that are not found in prevailing legislation, and are deviating from the general provision of the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedural Code. This legislation also specifically contains the provision on the scope of international and transnational jurisdiction and special provisions on criminal acts of terrorism that relate to international terrorism activities. These special provisions are not discriminative in nature. Instead, they are the government’s commitment to exercise Article 3 of the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombing (1997) and the Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (1999).

Despite Megawati’s rapid response to the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. and to the increasing signs of international terrorist activities in Southeast Asia, some Indonesian officials took note of the larger terrorist threat. For example, the Office of the Coordinating Minister of Political and Security Affairs, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, held a brainstorming session on counter-terrorism involving government officials, academics, and various experts on September. One of the tasks of the forum was to define terrorism and to remedy the absence of a statute prohibiting it in Indonesia. They began the drafting a counter-terrorism law. In order to support the existing body of counter-terrorism, during Megawati presidential Indonesia established the counter-terrorism coordinating desk under the coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs, a position then held by retired General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono which was mandated to formulate policy and national strategy including intelligence activities for combating terrorism and coordinate the necessary operational stages in the area of investigation and prosecution, as well as other legal steps necessary to fight terrorism; and coordinate international cooperation for institutional and capacity building through technical, police and intelligence cooperation.

In Megawati era, the coordination with Bush was really strong in order to promote the value of war on terror. In order to combat terrorism in Megawati era, The Criminal Investigations Division at Police Headquarters (Mabes Polri) plus Detachment 88 (Densus 88) recruited the most talented Polri investigators for what became known as the Anti-Terror and Bomb (ATB) Task Force. This entity became the core of Detachment 88, a counter-terrorism force organized with U.S. assistance in 2003 and formally established in 2004. Detachment 88 or well known as Densus 88 is the mechanism by which the Indonesian police manage counter-terrorism plans and policy, arrange training, and handle funding, as well as deploy counter-terrorist teams throughout the country under the value of prevention; response and investigation. Following the establishment of Detachment 88, the National Police (mabes polri) as the party which maintain the security and Indonesian Armed Force (TNI) which concern to military issue tried to work hand in hand under the name of law enforcement guideline as well as coordinating with three major intelligence agencies in Indonesia which are the National Intelligence Agency (BIN, Badan Intelijen Negara), the TNI’s Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS), and National Police intelligence, plus intelligence elements in the Justice Ministry, Finance Ministry, and the anti-money laundering agency and keep continuing until Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono  presidential in 2004 for two periods by identifying counter-terrorism as a national priority.

In combating terrorism issue, Indonesia is not alone since regional cooperation such as APEC Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation; ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) ; ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum) became an important part for Indonesia to gain support. Beside that, Indonesia also received foreign assistance such as U.S. Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) program since 2001 to determine the existing counter-terrorism capabilities of the Indonesian National Police and identify training and equipment requirements and the establishment of Densus 88; U.S. Regional Defense Counter-terrorism Fellowships (RDCF); U.S.-Indonesia Defense and Security Consultations (Justice Sector Assistance and U.S. Intelligence Assistance). Australia also became one of neighboring countries who was giving counter-terrorism aid as well as Intelligence Cooperation through The Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) and The Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS); The Bali Ministerial (law enforcement after bali bombing accident); Jakarta Center for Law Enforcement Cooperation (law enforcement – capacity building); Military Counter-Terrorism Assistance (through kopassus). Japan also contributed in helping Indonesia to deal with terrorism issue since Japan is active regionally in building counter-terrorism cooperation and capacity, and has been particularly helpful to Indonesia. Since 2001, Japan has provided capacity building assistance to combat terrorism to Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia, in nine areas: (1) immigration control, (2) aviation security, (3) port and maritime security, (4) customs cooperation, (5) export control, (6) law enforcement cooperation, (7) anti-terrorist financing, (8) counter-WMD terrorism, and (9) international counter-terrorism conventions and protocols. lastly but not least is Singapore by helping Indonesia by providing information to Indonesia about terrorist group such as Abu Bakar Baashir.

Even though the engagement in military or non-military as well as other supporting mechanisms have been conducted in order to implement the counter-terrorism strategy of Indonesia, but Indonesia still need to deal with several problems which need to be concerned of such as the motive of doing terrorism action based on social – economic perspective which are poverty rate and the low quality of life thus government need to pay attention toward this matter by solving the economy problem in society. Secondly is about radicalization of extremist group which potentially become the starting point of terrorism action so the de-radicalization through idea approach is important in order to demolish the radical perspective of terrorist group in spreading the extremist ideas to unstable young age by managing the religion school by religious affairs for example. Last problem is about intelligence problem which is lack of coordination among three major intelligence agencies which are the National Intelligence Agency (BIN, Badan Intelijen Negara), the TNI’s Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS), and National Police intelligence, plus intelligence elements in the Justice Ministry, Finance Ministry, and the anti-money laundering agency. This matter can be solved by strengthening the coordination among parties as well as strengthening the law enforcement instead of military approaches and interrupt terrorist financing as well as the ability to track terrorist financing under one commander.

Visit my online presentation:



The Difficulties in Defining Terrorism under International Law, rights/the-difficulties- in-defining- terrorism-under- international-law/

6 Inilah Definisi Terorisme Menurut Undang-Undang, terorisme-menurut-undang- undang/

Foreign Affairs Volume 93 number 1, 2014, page 101

Tumanggor, Robert Eryanto. 2007. Indonesia’s Counter-Terrorism Policy. UNISCI Discussion Papers

Yudhoyono, Susilo Bambang. 2005.  “Terrorism: A New Fight for ASEAN”, Keynote Speech at the opening ceremony of the 5th ASEAN Chiefs of Police Conference (ASEANAPOL)

Praja, Juhaya. Islam Post 9-11: Indonesia’s Experience

William M. Wise. 2005. Indonesia’s War on Terror. United States–Indonesia Society

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