BALI, Indonesia — Ten years after terrorist attacks at two Bali nightclubs killed more than 200 people, mostly foreign tourists, Indonesia has won international praise for its counterterrorism efforts. Militant organizations have been fractured and many of their charismatic leaders have been killed or jailed.
But an Associated Press analysis shows the number of strikes within the country has actually gone up, especially since 2010, when radical imams called on their followers to focus on domestic targets rather than Westerners. The more recent attacks have been conducted with less expertise, and the vast majority of victims have been Indonesians.
"It turns out that the terrorism problem in Indonesia is not finished yet," said Maj. Gen. Tito Karnavian, a former counterterrorism official recently appointed police chief of Papua province. "The quality of their attacks has decreased, but the quantity has increased."
Since Oct. 12, 2002, when the Bali attacks killed 202 people — including 88 Australians and seven Americans — there have been four major terror strikes targeting Westerners in Indonesia, resulting in 45 deaths. The last was in 2009, when attacks on the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta killed seven people.
That compares to 15 attacks against security forces, local authorities, Christians and some moderate Muslims in just the past two years. Those attacks have killed a total of 11 people — all police officers — and wounded dozens of civilians.
Although the targets may have shifted, the methods for recruiting young men remain the same. They are indoctrinated to believe that as jihadist "grooms" they will reap God's rewards for martyrdom — paradise for the bomber and 70 family members and the gift of 72 virgin angels. It's a belief shunned by most Muslims.
Fadlan, a convicted militant who goes by a single alias name, was trained to be a suicide bomber in 2001 by Jemaah Islamiyah, the al-Qaida-linked group that sent two other bombers to the Bali nightclubs on a busy Saturday night.
Today, Fadlan believes he would be in paradise if he had been picked.
"I still believe it ... because it's not promised by my recruiter, but God," Fadlan said softly in a mosque near his house in central Jakarta.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company