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Suharto Kin, Military Suspected Behind Indonesia Terrorism

by Andi Asrun

Indonesia's Bloody Christmas Eve
(IPS) JAKARTA -- Former Indonesian President Suharto has been out of power for three years now, but authorities, political analysts and activists suspect that members of his family are still busy -- wreaking havoc with bombings and bomb threats.

As analysts here see it, Suharto's family -- as well as his supporters in the military -- are determined to prove that the ex-strongman's political successors are weaklings who are unable maintain peace and order.

This is why, they say, bombs have become part and parcel of post-Suharto Indonesia.

The military-backed regime of Suharto lasted more than three decades, ending only when growing public protests forced the strongman to resign in May 1998.

Since then, Indonesia has been wracked by communal conflicts and deadly bombings, including one on July 23, which destroyed two churches in Jakarta and killed one person.

A strong explosive also went off in a downtown shopping center just a week after President Megawati Sukarnoputri was sworn in in late July, killing a passerby and injuring dozens.

Among the more lethal ones was one that ripped through the Jakarta Stock Exchange last September, leading to 15 fatalities, and the Christmas Day bombings last year in three different places that also claimed some 15 lives.

"I am quite sure some elements in the military and supporters of Suharto were behind the bombing and bomb threats," says political analyst Hadimulyo of the Center for Information and Democratic Studies. "The police have strong evidence that Tommy Suharto was behind the recent bombings."

Hutomo Mandala Putra, better known as Tommy Suharto, is the ex-president's youngest child. The 38-year-old multi-millionaire is currently a fugitive from justice, eluding arrest late last year after he was found guilty of corruption.

Earlier, then President Abdurrahman Wahid had also ordered his arrest for supposedly being the mastermind behind the stock exchange explosion, but the matter was dropped after authorities admitted they had no evidence to back the allegation.

Last week, another arrest warrant was issued for Tommy, this time for being one of the main suspects in several bombings and the murder of Justice Safiuddin.

The magistrate, who was killed last July 26, had been a member of the panel of judges that sentenced Tommy to 18 months imprisonment on corruption charges.

Two weeks after Safiuddin's murder, police had found several hundred pieces of explosive devices and firearms in a house in southern Jakarta that is believed to have been used by Tommy.

The police have a standing order to shoot Tommy on the spot if he refuses to surrender voluntarily.

But one of his sisters, Siti Hadijanti Rukmana, who is also being tried for corruption, told reporters recently: "I still believe that Tommy is not involved in any bombing. Please give him a chance to explain all these allegations."

Indonesia Military May Regain Lead Role
Tommy, however, is not the only member of the family that is being eyed for involvement in several bombings. Just last Tuesday, Aug. 14, authorities arrested Ari Sigit, a Suharto grandson, for alleged illegal possession of firearms and ammunition at his house in downtown Jakarta.

The father of Ari, who is in his early 20s, is Sigit Hardijanto, eldest of the six Suharto children.

Authorities have also included two military officers, including a member of the elite Army Strategic Reserve (Kostrad), in their list of suspects in the stock exchange bombing.

Analysts and activists are convinced that none of the bombings or Safiuddin's murder could have been done without some help from the military.

Hadimultyo, for instance, believes that some intelligence officers and members of the army elite troops were involved in the more recent bombings. He says only such people could have carried these out without arousing the suspicion of others.

Munir, chair of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute, meanwhile, cannot help wondering, "Why can't the security and state intelligence detect (who did) the bombings? What have they done so far to protect the people?"

He suggests that Megawati act quickly to unify the state intelligence and military intelligence agencies and put the merged institution under the Office of the President. Both agencies are currently under the control of the military.

Oppositionist Budiman Sudjatmiko, chair of the small People's Democratic Party, for his part argues that the police have been having difficulty solving the series of bombings -- which no group has claimed responsibility for so far -- because the military keeps on rejecting any investigation of any of its units.

While probing into the stock exchange blast last year, for instance, the National Police Detective Unit found at the site pieces of explosives material that came from the East Java Military Command. But top Army officials refused to allow the police to pursue the lead.

Then ex-President Wahid had also claimed that explosives material used in the Christmas Day 2000 bombings were also from the army-run ammunition and weapons factory. But the army top brass flatly denied the allegation.

Unsurprisingly, the military has yet to change its tune. Recently, Kostrad chief Lt Gen Riamizard Riacudu made a categorical denial of any involvement of soldiers in the rash of bombings that have hit several places across Indonesia, but especially Jakarta, in the last three years.

Interestingly enough, Riamizard has refused to comment on the stock exchange blast.

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Albion Monitor August 27, 2001 (

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