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VOL. XVI, Issue 5

Recognizing Trade-Offs in Indonesian Counterterrorism Strategy

Counterterrorism policies often suffer from a troubling dilemma: Thwarting violence and the development of extremist networks in the near-term may require uncompromising operations that ultimately impact a broader section of society than the intended targets. When whole communities or certain demographics become entangled in sweeping strategies, the suspicion generated can fuel counterproductive grievances and hinder longer-term prevention initiatives. On the other hand, if policies prioritize softer social programs aiming for gradual (re-)conciliation, this approach may provide undue space for violent actors to exploit. Finding the right balance between deterring violence in the short-term and addressing the underlying issues is crucial—but difficult. A pertinent example is playing out in the criminal justice system of Indonesia. Recent updates to the nation’s counterterrorism legislation have provided law enforcement with preemptive powers that have generated hundreds of arrests since late 2018. At the same time, new regulations have sought to develop a community policing philosophy for preventing violent extremism. While the two strategies are not mutually exclusive, the atmosphere generated by repressive tactics may inhibit the trust-dependent community-focused approach. Balance will depend on ensuring that community policing remains focused on procedural justice and building relationships, rather than cultivating informants and collecting information.

About ICCT

The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) is a think-and-do tank based in The Hague, Netherlands. We provide research, policy advice, training and other solutions to support better counter-terrorism policies and practices worldwide. We also contribute to the scientific and publi.…