13 August 2016
It was chilling news that would ordinarily rock a community: Suspected terror plotters living in your midst who are believed to have links to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS), have weapons, and want to launch a rocket attack — on Marina Bay.
Not so on Batam. Earlier this week, days after they witnessed elite counterterror forces bundling away neighbours who allegedly harboured insidious plans, residents were back to living their normal lives.
When quizzed on their nonchalance, the residents of each of the five neighbourhoods where the five suspects who were arrested last week for a plot against Singapore lived were either complacent about the threat, or had blind faith that nothing would go wrong.
… S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) senior adjunct fellow Bilveer Singh said stemming the growth of extremism in Batam would require the Indonesian government to step up its counterterror measures.
“Despite Indonesia’s talk of having invested in deradicalisation programmes, the Batam incident shows just how much more needs to be done,” he added. “ … We hope that after the discovery of the cell, there may be improvements, but the culture of complacency is hard to change.”
… Mr Jasminder Singh, senior analyst with the RSIS’ International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, said: “An obvious source of local terrorism motivation can be the highly visible foreign presence in Batam, be it tourism or industrial development.”
RSIS head of policy studies Kumar Ramakrishna, who has authored several books on radicalisation in Indonesia, cautioned that the recent arrests show that extremists in Indonesia may be thinking bigger.
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Last updated on 15/08/2016